Now, with Marvel and Netflix's Jessica Jones set to hit on our screens in just a few short weeks, and both a second season of Daredevil and a Luke Cage solo series set to arrive in 2016, the future of the online streaming side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is looking decidedly bright.
There are, however, still a few key questions to be answered - chief among which is the question of just when we're going to see an Iron Fist series. The mystical martial artist was, after all, originally expected to arrive in 2016, not too long after his long-time comic book partner Luke Cage. Now, the rampant success of Daredevil seemed to push that arrival back - but with no release date or casting news having surfaced, rumors have begun to spread that the show will, in fact, not be making its way to Netflix at all.
The latest of those, though, has gone further - and suggested a possible replacement for the hero. Specifically:
The Punisher Could Be Set to Steal Iron Fist's Netflix Slot
Yup, that Punisher.
Y'see, the folks over at Peel the Orange are reporting that a source has told them that...
"Marvel can’t quite seem to figure out how to put Iron Fist into the equation and time is running out. They’re very pleased with how Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle for Season 2 of Daredevil and know that the fans have a great appreciation for the character. They also know that a Punisher series would be much cheaper and more marketable. They have a contract with Netflix and have to do something. It appears that for this phase of shows, time is running thin for Iron Fist."
Which, on the surface, would actually make a lot of sense. As the rumor suggests, not only is The Punisher a fan-favorite (with a lot more cultural exposure than Iron Fist), but he's also already set to arrive on Netflix in next year's Daredevil Season 2, played by The Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal. In terms of the path of least resistance, The Punisher would be an obvious pick for an Iron Fist replacement. Add in Iron Fist's (costly and unproven) mystical themes, and there's certainly a solid logic to the rumor.
That being said...
There are Good Reasons to Think Iron Fist Will Still Make His Way to the MCU
Now, for one thing, there's reason to believe that the source in question - along with those behind several other similar rumors in recent weeks - should be taken with a larger than average pinch of salt. After all, there's been no corroboration - as of yet - from an established source, or a more mainstream site - suggesting that the industry at large isn't hearing the same word that Peel the Orange's source is reporting. Now, that doesn't mean it's wrong - just that it's less likely to be right than a rumor reported by, say, Deadline or The Hollywood Reporter.
In addition, there's a solid argument that, with Doctor Strange on the way in late 2016, Marvel is already very much taking the MCU in a mystical direction, cutting the argument against Iron Fist down to a vague sense that no one quite knows what to do with the hero. Which, again, seems a little unlikely, considering two of Iron Fist's long-serving allies (Mike Colter's Luke Cage and Carrie-Anne Moss' gender-switched Jeryn Hogarth) are being introduced in Jessica Jones in just a few weeks, and Daredevil took pains to introduce whispers of Iron Fist's mystical homeland (and foes) back in Season 1.
What's more, Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker's excellent, jointly scripted (and critically acclaimed) run on The Immortal Iron Fist back in 2006 would (with a few judicious cuts) seem to provide a fairly straightforward standalone tale, perfect for Netflix adaptation...
It seems likely, therefore, that there are simply still creative decisions and contractual wranglings afoot behind the scenes of the show - the 'in progress' nature of which would explain the lack of announcements on Marvel's part. A potential Punisher series - which seems likely, irrespective of Iron Fist's fate - could then simply join it in 2017, rather than being forced to kill it off in some sort of bizarre ritual sacrifice.
Or, y'know, the rumors are right, and that's exactly what'll happen. I suspect we'll find out one way or the other soon enough...
What do you reckon, though?