Marvel and Netflix have been killing it with their original series. To promote their newest show, Iron Fist, they held a panel at New York Comic Con that had attendance capped hours before it even began. They promised surprises, and they weren’t kidding: Jon Bernthal‘s Punisher is getting his own spin-off series, and Sigourney Weaver will play the villain in the Defenders series. (We still don’t know who she’ll be playing, but there’s plenty of time to speculate.)
Moderator Jeph Loeb (Marvel’s Head of Television) shared plenty of video clips from the upcoming Iron Fist show, which debuts on March 17, 2017. They only finished shooting the series the morning of the panel at 9 a.m., so Iron Fist is as fresh as it gets. The panel featured head writer Scott Buck, stars Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Henwick, David Wenham, Finn Jones, and Rosario Dawson.
\Initially Buck was reluctant to write a superhero show. Once he saw Netflix and Marvel’s first offering, however, he changed his mind.
“What first convinced me was watching Daredevil, seeing that it was character driven and we could approach a show like Iron Fist in the same way. Not as a comic book, but as a real character in a real world,” he said.
Casting Danny Rand was going to be a challenge, but Game of Thrones veteran Finn Jones was eager to sink his teeth into the part, which would require more than five hours a day doing martial arts and physical training.
“It was nuts. It was totally crazy. So I think we’d been screen testing for like two weeks back and forth I was in Los Angeles on Venice Beach and I was watching the sunset and I was really nervous,” he said of when he got the news that he would star in the series. “I got back to the car and got the phone call from my agent and just lost my mind.”
Stroup and Pelphrey feature as siblings Ward and Joy Meachum. The Meachums took over the Rand Corporation, and were once like family to Danny. Their father, Harold (Wenham), is the series’ main antagonist. Thankfully, the on-screen sibs knew one another before shooting and had easy chemistry.
“Strangely enough I had known Tom from back in the day, like ten years prior. We screen tested together and it was this reunion,” Stroup said. “It was meant to be. He;s an incredibly talented actor. Proud to be his sister.”
“She is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” Pelphrey gushed about his costar. “Sometimes she showed up and showed me what the scene was really about. She’s very funny.”
Comic fan favorite Colleen Wing also made her first appearance at NYCC, portrayed by Hennick. Marvel debuted a clip of Wing fighting in a cage match against two much larger opponents.
“There’s this image of Colleen that I love. She’s in a translucent plastic raincoat with a katana across her back, tiny shorts, and a pacifier around her neck. I know that there’s such a big fanbase for her so I really wanted to do it justice,” Hennick said. “A lot of it was getting into the physicality of the role. Martial arts is more than a hobby of hers, it’s a way of life. So I took it very seriously.”
Hennick wasn’t the only one to take her role seriously, though Marvel’s secrecy presented the actors with some unique challenges.
“As cast members we didn’t get the scripts until just before we were about the shoot them. They really left us hanging,” Wenham said. “What that did was give a great spontaneity to the characters because we didn’t know what was going to happen next to the character. (Loeb’s) chat to me very early on about how to play a villain, and I took some real life examples of captains of industry who are rather complex individuals and tried to put that into the performance as well.”
After the Iron Fist gang left the stage, Loeb brought up Jon Bernthal to announce a new Netflix Punisher series, also featuring Daredevil‘s Deborah Ann Woll.
The Defenders then took the stage to make the biggest announcement of the night – Sigourney Weaver will play the (yet unnamed) villain in their combined series.