I’d like to return the last 12 months, please; I think they’re faulty. Politics have been detonated in favour of unpredictable scandal, beloved stars were taken too soon, and – on a much less significant note – Netflix’s spotless Marvel run is blemished with misfires. Iron Fist wasn’t exactly flavour of the month, for instance. Although it’s a fun ride with many saving graces (including Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing), it didn’t live up to the standard Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage set. Similarly, pacing in The Defenders left many scratching their head. It found its feet before the finale, but there’s no escaping the fact that it took two or three episodes for the cast to even meet.
It also pivoted away from some of Daredevil’s more interesting ideas. Because of this, I hope we’ve not seen the last of the Hand; there’s so much more that can be done with them.
Spoilers for The Defenders follow, so don’t read any more if you haven’t seen it – you crazy person, you.
Back when the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen pranced around in a bandana, the Hand were an enigmatic force we barely understood. Horrific taskmasters who blinded their servants to ensure compliance, they dabbled in supernatural goings-on that were never explained. What on earth was that little boy in the shipping crate? The showrunners wisely kept this a secret.
As such, revealing their leaders to be embittered K’un-Lun students who just want to go home is underwhelming. The reveal makes perfect sense and creates synergy with Iron Fist, but it always felt as if there was something more than human about the creepy (yet strangely likeable) Madam Gao. Something demonic, perhaps; she can punch grown men across the room, disappear at will, and move things with her mind. Those aren’t tricks you learn from monks in a martial-arts dojo.
Accordingly, leaving Gao with such a pedestrian backstory reduces her mystique. She’s abruptly less scary.
Equally, we never saw a resolution for that carriage of sand Daredevil stumbled across in his second season. This sent goose-bumps up my arms; in the comics, the Hand’s soldiers are undead ninjas who collapse into ash when destroyed. How chilling would it be for our heroes to see dust coalescing into demon-kin around them? Except that element was promptly forgotten for The Defenders in favour of normal grunts who were bizarrely averse to guns, so I hope we see it again in his third outing.
Finally, can we please do something with the man Stick reported to after his first appearance (the scarred one who seemed to lead the Chaste)? He’s disappeared into a gaping plot-hole, much like any explanation as to what a Black Sky is. We’re still none the wiser on that latter point despite The Defenders showering us in bluster about how they’re prophesised to lead the Hand to victory. It initially seemed like they were powerful vessels for a supernatural presence, but then we learned that they were just great at kung-fu. Or something. Fingers crossed we get a solid and more satisfying answer before long.
You see, there’s still so much that can be done with the Hand; pushing them off the table after The Defenders finale would therefore be a waste. Seriously, ask anyone who’s read a comic featuring them. Here’s hoping we go back to their creepy, inexplicable air from the first season Daredevil.