Mortal Kombat Proves Lewis Tan Should’ve Been MCU’s Iron Fist

The first official trailer for 2021’s Mortal Kombat movie was released — and further emphasized why Lewis Tan should’ve played Danny Rand on Marvel’s Iron Fist. Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, Iron Fist made the jump to live-action in 2017. Played by Finn Jones, he appeared in two extremely mixed seasons before the show was canceled. Overall, the Marvel Netflix shows were deemed a failure of an experiment. However, there remained several bright spots, even in the less well-received outings.

One came in Iron Fist season 1, episode 8, “The Blessing of Many Fractures”. There, Danny crossed paths with Zhou Cheng, played by Tan.  In the comics, he has a storied history (especially with Iron Fists). On the show, Zhou was merely a brief obstacle. However, Tan’s combination of genuine martial arts prowess and snarky charm stole the limited screentime he was given. In fact, it was widely considered a highlight of the entire first season. As such, upon learning that Tan had actually been in the running to play Danny Rand, many lamented what could’ve been. Following the official Mortal Kombat trailer, those feelings have not only resurfaced but intensified.

In the newly-released footage, Tan appeared to be playing an entirely original character: Cole Young. Fans’ unfamiliarity with him has meant that his future will be largely unpredictable. Interestingly, though, no matter what fate is in store for Cole, there were more than a few shades that linked him to Tan’s Iron Fist-related past. For starters, he wore yellow bands around his wrist and knuckles. Yellow, of course, has been a major color in Iron Fist’s costume. Danny’s titular mystical ability also caused his hand to similarly glow yellow. Though it was something he was born with (and it’s far smaller), Mortal Kombat revealed that Cole also had a dragon mark on his chest.

In the trailer, Cole also seemed like a character very much rooted in the real world. He clearly had a life and attachments. Yet, the world behind the world had seemingly chosen him. The mark on his chest was said to be a sign that he had a greater destiny than what he’d previously known. And that destiny would introduce and bring him into direct conflict with a deeper and infinitely more supernatural world. That really wouldn’t be too dissimilar to what Danny Rand experienced. Though he had the additional benefit of a billion-dollar empire, Danny was very much a character who had a mystical destiny that pulled him between one world and another. Likewise, Cole Young’s Mortal Kombat destiny mirrored Danny’s in that both were entrusted to fight for and protect their realms.

Like Danny when he first arrived in K’un L’un, Cole will be viewed as something of an underdog while training at Raiden’s temple. Equally similar, Cole will no doubt prove himself a capable warrior not to be underestimated. Though fans only got a brief glimpse of Tan’s performance, he has already embraced each of these traits extremely well. You could feel the pull he felt between the two worlds and the bemusement at learning what’s really out there. And there’s no doubt the weight of him rising to the challenge will be equally felt during the film. As such, Tan could’ve perfectly embodied these facets, conflicts, struggles, and more within Danny Rand’s journey.

It was previously revealed what Tan’s take on the Iron Fist role would’ve been. Several of the elements he described would have been fascinating to behold. With some of them in play in the trailer, that fact is made clearer. In Jones’ defense, he did look more in line with the comic book counterpart. Plus, he did the best he could with the limited fight training that he had. Even ignoring what Tan’s combat skills could’ve brought to the table, though, Mortal Kombat‘s trailer proved that familiar worlds could still work with a new take on the main character. And it emphasized why Tan’s Danny Rand on Iron Fist would’ve fit right at home within the Marvel Universe, and put the show ahead of its time.

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