Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week’s bae is Colleen Wing!
Please note this article contains spoilers for season 2 of Iron Fist!
Who is Colleen Wing?
Colleen Wing is a major character in the Marvel Netflix show Iron Fist. She also played a major role in The Defenders and popped up in season 2 of Luke Cage, so she’s no small character in the Marvel Netflix ‘verse.
We first met Colleen when Danny Rand, the protagonist and titular hero of Iron Fist, sees her hanging fliers in a park in New York. Colleen runs Chikara Dojo, a martial arts school. Since Danny was raised in K’un-Lun by warrior monks, he is proficient in kung fu. He tries to strike up a conversation with Colleen, but she isn’t having it, initially.
Danny isn’t easily dismissed, however. Despite being a billionaire, he asked Colleen if he could have a job at her dojo. She seemed unimpressed by him. Later, Danny shows up at her dojo and asks to stay there, to which she very reluctantly agrees. When Danny is involuntarily hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, he calls Colleen, as she was the only friendly face he knew.
Eventually, Colleen agrees to work with Danny as he tries to shut down a drug operation in Rand Enterprises. Colleen, a highly skilled martial artist and swordswoman, is a good partner for Danny’s superpowers. They also work with Claire Temple, who was a student of Colleen’s at the dojo. Together, they start to unravel a plot by the Hand.
The Hand is a criminal cohort and the sworn enemies of the Iron Fist. They had previously terrorized New York in Daredevil, so Claire was familiar with them. They fought to defeat the Hand, led by Madame Gao, and save New York. The only problem is that, unbeknownst to Danny, Colleen is actually a member of the Hand.
Daughter of the Dragon
Colleen was taken in by the Hand after her family left her. When her mother died, Colleen was raised by her grandfather, a skilled swordsman who trained her in bushido. Her skills attracted the attention of Bakuto, a high ranking member of the Hand. Bakuto took Colleen in and trained her further. Eventually, she set up Chikara Dojo to recruit new members for the Hand.
Bakuto kept the truth of the Hand from Colleen. He framed the situation as a matter of factions: his faction was good and was working to defeat Gao. In truth, Bakuto and Gao were equally guilty as the top ranking members of the Hand, but Colleen didn’t know that. She thought she was helping make the world a better place.
When Danny finds out that Colleen is Hand, he is appalled. She tries to convince him that there’s more to it than he was taught, but he isn’t having it. Eventually, though, Colleen starts to see that the Hand isn’t all she thought it was, and rejects them. She and Danny fight to stop Gao and Bakuto, with Colleen even forced to see her mentor die.
Sadly, the Hand has a way to revive its members, and Bakuto returns. When the Hand tries to destroy New York in The Defenders, Colleen works with Claire to support Danny and Luke Cage as they fight against the Hand. Bakuto has an obsession with his former student and pursues Colleen relentlessly.
Colleen is forced to make a terrible choice. She had previously refused to kill Bakuto but knows that if she won’t stop him he will continue to do terrible things. Worse, Bakuto might kill Claire, a good friend. When Bakuto nearly kills Misty Knight, Colleen makes her choice and kills Bakuto.
After New York is saved, Colleen is shaken. She was forced to kill, and not just anyone: she was forced to kill her mentor. Colleen decides to hang up her katana and give up fighting, for good. She also closes Chikara Dojo, not wanting to train anyone else to send them to their deaths.
Instead of fighting, Colleen focuses on other ways to improve. She and Danny renovate Chikara and turn it into an apartment, where they live together. Their relationship seems to be going strong, even though they have differing opinions on some matters. Colleen grounds Danny as he fights to protect New York.
For her part, Colleen tries to make the city better in a non-combative way. She volunteers at Bayard Community Center, helping the underprivileged of Chinatown reach a better life. Danny occasionally asks her if she wants to go on a mission with him, but Colleen is (mostly) content with her life and her choices.
However, when Danny’s foster brother Davos shows up, things change. Danny loses the power of the Iron Fist to Davos, who wages a bloody war against the Triads. Davos nearly cripples Danny, who then asks Colleen to train him into good enough shape to stand a chance. She faces a choice: stick to her morals, or save her city and the man she loves.
Colleen gives in, returning to her roots as a martial artist and a teacher. Danny nearly pushes it too far when he asks her to take on the mantle of Iron Fist; that’s a responsibility she doesn’t want, and it would break her relationship with Danny. In the end, though, she does it to save New York. Colleen becomes the new Iron Fist and works to keep people safe.
Why is Colleen Wing Bae?
I gotta be honest, I was not a fan of season 1 of Iron Fist. I found Danny Rand uninteresting to the extreme and thought it was a weak follow up to the fantastic other Marvel Netflix offerings. But Colleen Wing stood out as one bright shining spot in the show.
Season 2 was much better, but Colleen still stands out as an icon. I have never been gayer than watching her fight. Jessica Henwick is stunningly gorgeous, and the showrunners seem to have caught on that she’s the main attraction here. Some of the shots from season 2 nearly worship her, and I’m weak. I am so weak. Her eyebrows alone slay me. She is. too. pretty.
We all know I’m weak for a person who can fight. It’s… not ideal. But! For once the person I’m weak for is not a bad or inherently violent person, so progress? Anyway, I love a character who kicks ass and there is no doubt at all that Colleen Wing kicks some serious ass.
Colleen is a highly skilled martial artist. She displays remarkable talent numerous times in the show, often taking on larger opponents (to be fair Jessica Henwick is pretty small, so most opponents are larger). In season 1, Colleen fights in illicit cage matches. She is underestimated but destroys her opponents with ease and skill.
As a partner to Danny’s Iron Fist, Colleen more than holds her own. She assists Danny in his quest to defeat the Hand, often facing opponents with years (centuries, even) more experience. She often also faces multiple opponents at once. Season 2 features a great scene where she handles a group of thugs on her own while Danny is busy elsewhere.
Even better, Colleen is skilled enough in martial arts to teach others. She runs Chikara Dojo to teach people how to defend themselves. When Claire realizes she should learn how to fight better if she’s gonna be running with Luke Cage, Colleen steps in. Colleen is even able to teach Danny, who spent years learning in K’un-Lun.
Colleen is also highly skilled with a blade, which is the quickest way to my heart (my sexuality is swords). She fights with a katana that was passed down to her from her grandfather. Her grandfather taught her bushido, a code of honor, in addition to swordplay. By the time she is an adult, Colleen is skilled enough to defeat Bakuto, a top combatant for the Hand.
But despite being a highly skilled combatant and all-around badass, Colleen Wing isn’t boring. Too often, characters who can fight are limited to that aspect of their characterization and are given little else. It would have been easy to mold Colleen into a stereotypical, all honor, no humor character, but luckily Marvel went a different route.
Colleen Wing is a fun character, something that is desperately needed in Iron Fist. She develops good relationships with other characters that show a depth of humor and compassion. You see this in the way she works with Claire (though it’s impossible not to befriend Claire Temple). Colleen is Claire’s teacher, but they are also friends and have a good time together.
Things get really good when Colleen links up with Misty Knight. In the comics, Colleen and Misty are the “Daughters of the Dragon,” partners in a detective agency and supporting characters in other comics. Netflix rightfully paired Misty and Colleen in their shows, unlocking a whole lot of good for both characters.
Misty and Colleen first meet in The Defenders, though it’s not a fast click. When Misty loses her arm fighting Bakuto, however, they bond. Colleen helps Misty adjust to her new Rand tech bionic arm. It’s a tough adjustment for the badass cop, and Colleen helps her regain her mojo. Iron Fist sees them team up again and continues to kick ass. Here’s hoping for more!
Colleen’s relationship with Danny is less compelling than that with Misty, but no less fun. They have an easy dynamic that is unmatched in the other Marvel Netflix shows and are equal partners in a caring relationship. When they fight together, it’s fun to watch. Things are rocky now, but I’m sure they’ll find their way back to each other.
What’s Not To Love?
Iron Fist was plagued from the start. The show faced issues of cultural appropriation and a generally weak protagonist in Danny Rand. However, it did give us Colleen Wing, who was interesting enough to merit watching the second season.
That second season delivered. Somewhere along the way, Netflix seemed to realize we really don’t care about Danny Rand, and Colleen Wing became more of the protagonist in season 2. Her story is as important — if not more important — as Danny’s, and she is given great development. She even gets the coolest shot of the season:
Season 1 gave us a badass, cool Colleen. She is a master martial artist and excellent swordswoman. She proved herself an equal partner to Danny, even without powers, and helped him eradicate the Hand. The Defenders showed us the conclusion of her Hand arc and developed her relationship with awesome characters like Claire and Misty.
But season 2 of Iron Fist? Season 2 gave us a masterpiece. Colleen is given all the typical hero characterization. She struggles with her moral center after killing Bakuto and tries to give up fighting. She is motivated by the death of a young person with potential. In the end, she sacrifices her relationship to save New York. All typical hero motivations.
Because Colleen Wing is clearly the hero here. Colleen Wing is, as of the end of season 1, the new Iron Fist. She is the best defender of New York in the wake left by the other Defenders imploding. She takes over for Danny and saves the day. Colleen Wing is the hero now, and there is no one better suited for the role.