One of the most anticipated relationships in The Defenders is between Luke Cage and Danny Rand. In the comics, the duo are known as Power Man and Iron Fist, Heroes for Hire. What is it like playing two iconic characters with an equally iconic bromance? We sat down with Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Finn Jones (Danny Rand/Iron Fist) to discuss creating their chemistry and the similarities between their two characters.
One of the first things you notice upon talking to Colter and Jones is that their chemistry in real life is palpable. Throughout the interview the two could not stop interrupting each other and cracking jokes. It’s exciting news for fans who are eager to see the two actors together. Jones says they didn’t try to force anything when it came to Danny and Luke’s scenes together. “I think it just was very natural. I don’t think we put too much pressure on ourselves to create something and I think when you do put too much pressure onto kind of creating chemistry you actually do the opposite because you’re trying too hard.”
The credit for the strong relationship between the two characters on screen is also due to executive producer/writer Marco Ramirez. “If it wasn’t for Marco’s great writing with those scenes, I don’t think the chemistry would be as good as it is… I think Marco did a great job at bringing this relationship to life and we just played the part the best we could. We have a great chemistry as actors and also as characters,” says Jones.
Set It Off
The main conflict between Luke and Danny at the start of The Defenders is how to handle conflict. Colter says, “I’ve dealt with having superior strength to people for a long period of time and I’ve known that I have to hold back- I mean I could kill people. So it’s hard to sort of ride the line of morality…you can’t solve things with violence, there are ramifications if you kill someone.” Jones interjects that Danny is just learning the results of his actions. “(Luke is) from the streets, (he) understands the repercussions. Danny doesn’t understand repercussions.”
As a result, this very different mindset puts the characters at odds in their first meeting. The Defenders are all very different people who all have a common cause that brings them together. Part of the struggle of the series (and the fun) is seeing how these strong personalities clash and come together. However, despite the fact that Luke Cage and Danny Rand are extremely different, they do share some similarities. Jones says that Danny can relate to Luke.
“What I see in Luke is strength and vulnerability and I see that in myself as well. And I think that’s the first time Danny’s actually seen that in another man and I think he’s really drawn to that…With that he can let down his guard. And with letting down his guard they’re able to have banter and be friendly.”
Colter talks about how Luke’s past and his time in jail makes it hard for him to connect with people.
“If you’re a convict who’s on the run, who’s changed his name, who has super abilities that are unknown and weird to people and can draw attention to you, and you’re running from your past and your wife has been mysteriously killed by a woman you fell in love with… what do you talk about with people?”
Says Jones, “That’s why the relationship between us is nice because we can relate to each other. We don’t have to have those conversations, we know we all got our baggage.” And baggage is one thing all of the Defenders have in spades.
Built For This
“These characters aren’t superheroes. They’re people with abilities and a lot of f****** flaws. And that’s what’s interesting about it,” says Jones when it comes to describing The Defenders.
“Danny isn’t really a superhero, especially in the first season of Iron Fist. It’s only coming into Defenders that he realized there are other people with abilities using them with responsibility and purpose and that kind of gives him a bit of inspiration.”
Jones promises season 1 of Iron Fist and The Defenders will complete a full arc for Danny. His character will continue this journey in the recently announced second season of Iron Fist. Danny has a lot of growing to do. Hopefully his experiences with Luke and the rest of the team will help him change.
On the other hand, Luke Cage is already a hero. After the events of season 1 of his own series he’s a known figure in Harlem. Colter compares his character to another iconic figure: Superman. (Which makes Jones jokingly yell, “We can’t mention DC!”)
“What I really like about Luke Cage is the character is sort of very grounded. He’s of the people. For me it’s the better version of (Superman) because I don’t have to go away to some faraway place and be mystical-I’m here. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Like Superman, Luke has become more than just a hero. He’s a symbol of hope, a reminder that someone is looking out for the little guys.
The actors are also aware of their roles playing heroic characters. “When I interact with fans that really appreciate the show it’s overwhelmingly inspirational and it really reminds me how important this job is and I just love it,” says Jones.
The Defenders premieres on Netflix on August 18th at midnight PST.