Iron Fist & Joy Have A Long, Complicated History
Netflix's Marvel series have done an excellent job of crafting varied and compelling female characters including Jessica Jones, Trish Walker, Jeri Hogarth, Claire Temple, Mariah Dillard, Misty Knight, Karen Page, and Elektra — and now their newest show is adding a couple more. Iron Fist will introduce Joy Meachum and Colleen Wing, a high-powered businesswoman and a martial arts warrior, respectively. But Joy in particular is something viewers won't necessarily have seen before from a female character in Netflix's Marvel universe: a villain.
So far, these Netflix shows have mirrored the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen in that most of the villains have been men: think Wilson Fisk, Kilgrave, the Punisher, Cottonmouth, and Diamondback. Jeri may be an icy litigator and Elektra something of an antihero, but neither were straight-up villains; Mariah is probably the closest, but even she played second fiddle all season long to two bigger, badder male villains. Given her unique stature in Netflix's Marvel universe, viewers may wonder, is Iron Fist's Joy from the comic books? Or is she an original creation for the show?
In fact, the name Joy Meachum has been pulled directly from the pages of Marvel comics for the show — but it remains to be seen how closely Netflix will adapt her storyline. If it remains faithful to the source material, then Danny Rand better watch his back.
In the comics, Danny and Joy grew up closely with one another, since their fathers — Wendell Rand and Harold Meachum — were colleagues who co-founded the powerful research and investment firm Rand Meachum, Inc. together. It was Harold who killed Danny's father in a bid to take over the company for himself and his children, thus precipitating Danny's quest of self-discovery and revenge that would transform him into Iron Fist. Ultimately, Danny couldn't bring himself to kill his father's murderer… but a mysterious villain called Ninja took out Harold instead. And when Joy saw Iron Fist standing over her father's dead body, she vowed vengeance against the superhero — and became his biggest enemy.
Throughout the Iron Fist series, Joy would ally herself with the evil Steel Serpent, laying traps for the hero while the villain would attempt to take him out. Eventually, Joy was kidnapped by a mob leader named Boss Morgan, and when Iron Fist came to free her, she tried to coerce her kidnapper into killing her rescuer. When Boss Morgan decided to make his own escape instead of tangling with a superpowered martial artist, Joy finally tried to kill Iron Fist herself… but ultimately couldn't bring herself to do the deed. And so the feud between the two childhood friends ended — and, in true comic book fashion, the pair even became lovers for a time.
On Netflix, Joy will be portrayed by Jessica Stroup, who is perhaps best known for playing Erin Silver on all five seasons of The CW's 90210, as well as starring as Kevin Bacon's niece Max Hardy on FOX's The Following and appearing in a number of horror movies (The Hills Have Eyes 2, Prom Night). Hopefully the show will give her plenty of room to play up the character's villainous side without leaning too heavily into the will-they-won't-they romance angle of Joy's relationship with Danny. If so, Netflix may have finally created a female antagonist who can actually go toe-to-toe with a superhero — even without superpowers of her own.