Netflix released The Defenders today, a new series that brings four of its leading Marvel superheroes to one show. The protagonists in Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have linked up to, as the title suggests, defend New York City. I’m no comic book fan, but I saw a few episodes of Iron Fist and came to my own conclusion about Danny Rand (Finn Jones). And after watching a few episodes of The Defenders, I was glad to see those feelings validated during a great scene between him and Luke Cage (Mike Colter).
Rand’s backstory goes like this. Before both of his parents were killed in a car crash when he was 12, Rand enjoyed all the benefits of having a billionaire businessman as a father. Having survived the plane crash that killed his parents, he ends up in Cambodia, learning martial arts and ancient wisdom. After his return to the United States, he has taken up another fight against the Hand, a criminal organization that is somehow connected to the same people that wiped out the villagers that raised him in his teenaged years.
This brings us to the tense conversation between him and Cage. At the end of episode two, Danny beats up an operative of The Hand who was hired to clean up bodies and blood from a hidden room. The operative is Black, and Danny beats him senselessly, until Luke shows up and they begin fighting each other. When they are reunited a few days later by the women in their lives, the men have to hash out what happened, and Luke doesn’t hold back.
It turns out that the operative that Danny attacked was Cole (J. Mallory McCree), a guy from Luke’s neighborhood. Luke thinks that it was near-sighted and unfair that Danny did such a number on him when he’s at the bottom of the totem pole. Danny doesn’t think he did anything wrong, but people with the race and class privilege that Danny has rarely do. Luke implies this when he tells Danny that he has the power to fight the Hand from the top, not the bottom. And when Danny insists that coming from money doesn’t “define him,” Luke is ready with the perfect clap back. “Maybe not, but that kid is sitting in a jail cell tonight and you’re not,” he says. “I know privilege when I see it. You may think you earned your strength, but you had power the day you were born.” BOOM!
Colter told Vulture why the scene was so important. "People have a lot of influence and money and they are just out of touch. This is the problem with society — people get money and they feel that way," he explained. "And what happens is they forget what it’s like to live the real life, you know?”
Danny spent all of his Iron Fist series and some of the Defenders avoiding serious repercussions for his actions because he was white and privileged. The least we can do is acknowledge that.