Daughters of the Dragon

Heroes for Hire: Why We Still Need a ‘Daughters of the Dragon’ Show

I think it’s a pretty general consensus, at this point, that the Marvel Netflix shows had their ups and downs. Daredevil had an impeccable first season and set the wheels in motion, and for many, the first season of Jessica Jones was even better. With the exception of Iron Fist, every debut season for those characters crushed it. Hell, Luke Cage crashed Netflix when it premiered. And even though the first season of Iron Fist didn’t exactly set the world on fire, the second season featured some of the most stunning course correction I’ve ever seen. When Davos popped up in season one, he was far more interesting than the actual main villain, so they made him the primary antagonist of season two. Danny was inexplicably unable to use the Iron Fist for most of the season, so that problem was fixed. And, most importantly, viewers immediately caught on to the fact that Colleen Wing was a much more interesting character to watch and naturally asked, “Why isn’t this show about her?” So it became about her. It was a bold, terrific choice to pass the mantle of the Iron Fist to Colleen at the end of the second season, and it’s unfortunate that the show was immediately canceled upon doing so. 

Now the Netflix shows have all been over for a few years, and other than the fervent online fan bases with things like #SaveDaredevil they go largely unspoken. It’s only natural, in a comic book climate like ours certainly is, that even the best shows are treated as a little disposable, at least in the marketing. There’s too much in the pipeline to dwell in the past, there’s always a dozen things on the way, things you’re already aware of, teases you’re already expecting from the moment a new show or movie premieres. It’s an overwhelming amount to ingest for even the most passionate Marvel fan. So in that respect, I get that people don’t talk about the Netflix shows and the street level universe it presented, because now we have shows about the characters from the movies. We now live in an age of series fundamentally set in the heart of the MCU, rather than shows that occasionally make an off-hand reference to the events of The Avengers as “the incident.” It’s almost unsettling how much things can change in only two years, but it speaks to the heart of that rapid-fire content. 

In that respect, it’s easy to forget the amount of things that were teased so heavily in shows that were ultimately abandoned. Only Daredevil and Jessica Jones felt like they were even kind of wrapping up the overall story in their respective third seasons. The others pretty much ended on cliffhangers. Still, in that amount of time, some of the best character relationships on the page made their way to the screen, even with characters who had started out on different shows. While the iconic Luke Cage/Danny Rand bromance took a while to find its footing, it got there, especially in Danny’s guest appearance in a terrific episode of Luke Cage’s second season that basically felt like a backdoor Heroes for Hire pilot. Even better than that, though, was the relationship between Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. Just like Luke and Danny, this is one of the closest friendships in all of comics. Unlike Luke and Danny, the onscreen chemistry was instantaneous and it only grew from there. There were several moments over the course of Defenders, Luke Cage and especially the second season of Iron Fist that felt like they were setting the stage for Daughters of the Dragon, some that outright teased it. 

Now all of the rights to those characters have reverted back to Marvel Studios, and with Marvel Television being no more, it’s really unclear what’s going to happen. The Netflix shows were firmly set in the MCU, but in a disposable manner, to the point that people have already said that we should not consider them canon. Frustrating as it is, it makes sense. Now that Marvel Studios is in control of everything, they only want to count the things they made themselves. Yet there might still be hope, as there have been plenty of rumors about Charlie Cox reprising his role in either Spider-Man: No Way Home or something else down the line. If that’s the case, I would like to see some of the other actors carry over. Daredevil is one of my top five favorite comic book characters, easily. And I think Charlie Cox was perfectly cast. Yet if I were to ask myself which Netflix characters, out of anyone, I want to see continue, my immediate answers would be Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. I loved those characters. Loving them on their respective shows made me rediscover and fall in love with them on the page, as well. I want to see that friendship, that camaraderie continue, and I want to see Marvel make good on Daughters of the Dragon, even more than I’d want to see another season of any of the other series.

For those unaware, Daughters of the Dragon is, essentially, a nickname given to the ass-kicking duo of Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. One of whom is a Japanese martial arts expert, descended from a samurai, the other being an ex-cop from Harlem with a bionic arm. Together they operate Knightwing Restorations, Inc. a business that operates similar to Luke Cage & Iron Fist’s Heroes for Hire, except Knightwing also helps low-level villains get back on their feet after they get out of prison, while also making sure they keep out of trouble. Colleen and Misty have easily one of the most dynamic, engaging, thoroughly entertaining friendships across the entire Marvel Universe. And while it’s always great to see them pop up in other people’s books or to see any scenes they got to share together in Netflix’s Iron Fist, Defenders and Luke Cage, it is so far past time for them to really have something of their own.

The ideal situation, of course, would be to continue the adventures of Jessica Henwick’s and Simone Missick’s Colleen and Misty, respectively. To see those characters finally establish Knightwing Inc. and make good on the promises and teases of the prior shows, taking on minor villains that have cropped up in the MCU to date (Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker comes to mind, and maybe they could be the ones to finally take down Batroc) would be a dream come true. But honestly, even if the series started completely from scratch, I’d still want it, because whether we’re talking Netflix or not, these are characters who have earned their time in the spotlight. If those other shows aren’t being touched right now, if those versions of the characters have been put out to pasture, it doesn’t mean a Daughters of the Dragon show shouldn’t happen. If anything, it would only cement the fact that it’s long past due. Because when we talk about putting some respect on the names of these women, we are not just talking about the screen. 

The name Daughters of the Dragon originated in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #64 in 1977. It was a name off-handedly and somewhat mockingly given by Davos, the Steel Serpent, to describe Colleen and Misty. It stuck. They opened their business, Knightwing Restorations, Inc. not long after that. And then, despite operating as a two-woman superhero operation similar to Heroes for Hire, they continued to appear as supporting characters in other people’s books. Eventually, they were given their own occasional eight-page stories of their own in Marvel Comics Presents. They did not get so much as a one-shot until 2005 and didn’t get their own miniseries until 2006. And even though they did lead the Heroes for Hire book that spawned out of that mini, the duo have never had an ongoing title to themselves. Their most recent comic, in 2018, was—to add insult to injury—a digital-only release. That is absolutely ridiculous to think about, to have that much time within the Marvel universe, to be an organization for decades without ever getting the spotlight. Imagine if the Fantastic Four just appeared as supporting characters without ever getting a book of their own. People would want to know more, to see what they’re doing when they’re not just stepping in to lend a helping hand. And for fans of Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, that’s what we have wanted for a very long time. 

The central hook of the 2006 Daughters of the Dragon comic was so good, too. It’s a perfect starting point for an ongoing title. The comic sees Colleen and Misty posting bail for baddies, usually low-level super-villains, often bringing them down when they run rampant again or fail to meet their court dates. It’s a great look into what happens in the life of the average Marvel villain after they’ve had their big dramatic fight with Spider-Man and have been handed over to the authorities. That would be a great perspective for a TV series, as well, what things look like for guys like Shocker after they’ve been arrested. How laws are skewed to make reformation next-to-impossible, which must certainly hold true in the MCU, especially if the Sokovia Accords are still in place. And what about displacement? The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has done a good job of highlighting how easily people have taken to extreme measures in the housing crisis caused by a post-blip world. I’d love to see a Daughters of the Dragon show that tackled that problem at street level, as these characters have always done so well. 

More than that, though, I just plain want to see them. There are a dozen different directions that a Daughters of the Dragon show could take, not to mention an ongoing comic. But it’s so tough to imagine when these two women appearing in multiple television shows couldn’t even lead to a print book. Now that those shows are over, these characters aren’t nearly as in-demand as they were then. So any chance of seeing them in their own title any time soon really feels like it’s gone out the window. And even though new shows and movies have been proven time and again to have little to no impact on comic sales, they do at least get comic titles green-lit. I’m confident that we’d get a new Daughters of the Dragon comic if Marvel finally made good on the promise of a show. Granted, it was never something outright promised, but it was teased relentlessly. Fan demand for it was extremely high while those shows were on the air, but that is pretty far from the case now, which makes the actual possibility of a series so much more unlikely. It’s hard to imagine someone striking while the iron is ice cold. 

That’s really where the frustration comes from, for myself and other fans of these characters, I’m sure. I just want more of them, be it in the form of a streaming series, a comic, a movie, a cartoon, a pair of Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots, you name it. And I’m writing this now, of all times, because it seems so obvious that the opposite is going to happen. Without something to reignite that spark of enthusiasm, it seems only natural that the Daughters of the Dragon are poised to fade into obscurity more than they ever have before. They deserve better than that. They’ve deserved better than that for over forty years. If I have to keep rewatching the same handful of episodes and rereading the same total ten issues forever, well, I will. And I’ll be happy any time they make a guest appearance, no matter what they’re appearing in, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever think they shouldn’t be the stars.

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