Netflix’s Marvel shows are a mostly enjoyable mixed bag, with the critically slammed Iron Fist as the worst of the bunch. While the lazy writing and shoddy choreography were definite strikes against the show, the biggest issue of Iron Fist was a thoroughly unlikeable protagonist. For some crazy reason, many fans were just not into a boyish billionaire who was completely unable to see his privilege due to his wealth and his whiteness. He can whine about how hard life was in Kunlun, but it still doesn’t mean that it’s not good to be Danny Rand (minus the murdered parents).
While work on The Defenders began before Iron Fist landed with a huge thud, the show worked overtime to turn Rand into a more sympathetic character, and one of the key elements of that change was his burgeoning friendship with Luke Cage. While Jessica Jones may have razzed on The Immortal Iron Fist™ the hardest, Cage took his incredulity at Rand’s naïveté and turned it into one of the best scenes of the series.
After their first interaction turns violent, Cage and Rand are left licking their wounds and expressing their own frustrations. Somehow, Marvel managed to turn this into a teachable moment for Rand without becoming over the top or preachy. After calling him out for beating up a scared black teenager for information about the Hand, Cage explains that Rand will always have a leg up on most people simply because of who he is. Although Rand pushes the fact that Cage is bulletproof, Luke is quick to clarify that he’s “not some billionaire white boy who takes justice into his own hands and slams a black kid into a wall over his personal vendetta.”