Marvel's Netflix universe has been pretty tame compared to the exuberance of its blockbuster films, but Iron Fist is injecting some comic book weirdness into the streaming platform's collection of superhero shows. Some of those oddities unique to the superhero genre may arrive in the form of The Order of the Crane Mother, a shadowy organization that has ties to Danny Rand's mysterious and mystical past. While taking his father's company back from the Meachum family may be his primary goal when he shows up in New York after going missing for years, Danny is going to have to answer to the monks who helped him become the Iron Fist eventually, and manage their expectations. But what is the Order of the Crane Mother?
While the origins of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage are all rooted more in the world of sci-fi, Iron Fist's comic history is fantasy through and through. It has mystical worlds that only appear on Earth sporadically, ancient magic, and a fight with a dragon. And while the Order of the Crane Mother as an organization is unique to the Netflix series, it connects Iron Fist to a very important and abnormal character from Danny's past — the mysterious and powerful Crane Mother.
In Iron Fist, Danny describes the Order of the Crane Mother as a group of warrior monks who took him in after surviving a plane crash, which eventually lead to him becoming the Iron Fist. In Marvel Comics, the Crane Mother is a relatively new creation, having originated in 2007. While many of the antagonists in Iron Fist (primarily the cutthroat Meachum family) are related to the comic book story of Iron Fist, the Crane Mother isn't as related to his personal origins, but instead connected to the world that he comes from. In the comics, the Crane Mother is a ruler of Ku'n-Zi, a mystical city in the same vein of K'un-Lun, where Danny Rand spent most of his youth training.
The Crane Mother of the comics is an ancient ruler with an ax to grind against Iron Fist, which results in Danny fighting in a Tournament of Heavenly Cities against other super-powered folk. It's the kind of odd and out-there plotline that a comic book can get away with decades into its run, but it doesn't seem like the Danny of the Iron Fist show is going to be participating in any such tournament, and the one he describes that made him the Iron Fist doesn't seem to include people with powers.
While The Order of the Crane Mother is mentioned numerous times in Iron Fist, it seems that there's no sight of the Crane Mother herself in the first few episodes of the series... though some fans think the Crane Mother could be hiding in plain sight.
A popular fan theory posits that the heroin dealer prominently featured in the first season of Daredevil, Madame Gao, is actually the Crane Mother. She returned briefly in the second season of Daredevil, but has an especially large presence in Iron Fist that fuels this theory even more.
But whether Madame Gao is involved or not, the Order of the Crane Mother is plays a major role in Danny's background and the world of Iron Fist. The only question is whether they'll be revealed to be much more sinister than Danny thinks.