Marvel’s Iron Fist Is the Latest Show Taking on Feminism

Jessica Henwick is the definition of a badass female. With roles such as Resistance fighter pilot (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and bullwhip-wielding warrior (she’s one of the freaky Sand Snakes on Game of Thrones) under her belt, her latest gig should come as no surprise: Colleen Wing, the cynical and self-deprecating martial arts master in Marvel’s Iron Fist, which premieres on March 17 on Netflix.

“I really liked the idea of playing a non-superhero on a superhero show,” says the 24-year-old actress, who, at the time of our interview, is donning a floral print Red Valentino dress and black Schutz booties. “In a world where people can break things with their minds and have superpowers, to be mortal and still be like ‘I’m going to put myself on the front line’ takes so much courage, and that’s what I liked.”

To channel her inner Colleen, dry humour and all, Henwick drew inspo from her neighbourhood of Greenpoint in Brooklyn. “It’s a largely Polish community, and also a no-bullshit community.”

In case you haven’t been following, Iron Fist follows Danny Rand, played by fellow Brit Finn Jones (yes, Ser Loras Tyrell on GOT), a billionaire who mysteriously reappears in Manhattan after being presumed dead. Turns out he was alive and living in a monastery, training to become to the ultimate martial arts master. (It’s Marvel, people.)

As with all of the Marvel shows on Netflix’s roster (Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage), Iron Fist takes place in modern-day New York and deals with very real issues (read: corporate corruption, drug trafficking).

And although it may not be noticeable on the outside, Iron Fist has deep-rooted feminist themes: It’s filled with strong female leads who are, as Jones describes, the backbone of the men in the show. “All of the men in this show are falling apart! They need these women to hold them up,” he says. In addition to Henwick, the show also features Rosario Dawson as the lovely Claire Temple and Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum.

The fact that the show also portrays women supporting each other is awesome. “I will certainly say that working with Rosario and creating the Colleen/Claire dynamic has been one of my favourite experiences working with any actor,” says Henwick, “and being able to show the audience two women who support each other, and there’s no competition. I’m her sensei, I’m her teacher, but I’m also like a sister to her.”

In light of International Women’s Day, here’s an exclusive look at Henwick talking about her character.