The second season of Marvel's Iron Fist hit Netflix yesterday, giving fans a look at what's next for Danny Rand after the events of The Defenders. With Daredevil presumed to be dead, Danny's pledged to defend the streets of New York City but becoming a vigilante hero means new challenges -- and new relationships as the Chinatown's leadership shifts.
Warning: potential spoilers for Iron Fist Season 2 beyond this point.
It's those leadership shifts where Sherry Yang comes in. Played by Christine Toy Johnson, Yang is the wife of Hai-Qing Yang, leader of the Yangsi Gonshi -- also known as the Hatchets. As the Hatchets went up against the Hand in season one, Danny (Finn Jones) and Hai-Qing are begrudging allies of sorts. However, when he's taken out by Davos (Sacha Dhawan), Sherry becomes more than just a "mob wife," stepping up to take his place and teams up with Danny and Colleen (Jessica Henwick) for protection, continuing the alliance in the face of a looming gang war.
It's an interesting turn for Iron Fist. Not only is Sherry a powerful female crime boss, but she's not precisely a villain in the way Mariah Dillard (Stokes) was in Luke Cage, though like Mariah she does have a strong motivation to help her community. ComicBook.com sat down with Johnson to talk about Sherry, what the character's motivation is, her favorite scenes, and what it was like bringing a completely original character to life on a show with characters that have such extensive comic book backgrounds.
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On playing Sherry Yang
ComicBook.com: In Iron Fist, Sherry starts out as the wife of a Triad leader but ends up essentially taking up his role. What was it like playing a character that, to an extent, kind of turns the generic stereotype of "mob wife" on its head?
Christine Toy Johnson: I love her. She is tough and principled, loyal to a fault, passionate about protecting her family even if it goes against what she personally wants, deep down. For these reasons (though they are certainly characteristics we can all relate to), I never saw her as generic – so that gave me a running head start! She does what needs to be done, even if it means leaning into conflict. And she never backs down.
What is Sherry's motivation?
Sherry is all about doing what’s right, even if the idea of what that is may change with the given circumstances. Above all, she’s fiercely protective of her family and honors the ways they do business, though sometimes it’s at odds with her own principles and instincts. This leads to some pretty deep conflicts, but she’s not afraid to make the choices she needs to, again all in service of protecting her family’s wellbeing.
On Sherry's alliance with Danny Rand
In the situation between the Hatchets and the Golden Tigers, Danny sort of messes things up when it comes to Sherry's parlay with the Tigers yet she still seems willing to work with him. What is Sherry's thought process in regards to this? Is Danny forgiven?
By the time Sherry agrees to work with Danny again, she knows that her community is in great danger and that he and Colleen might be the only ones who can help them, given all the circumstances. So it’s basically a choice between holding on to a grudge or taking a leap of faith to save her people.
On Sherry's community efforts
In addition to her Triad role, Sherry is also involved with Colleen's non-profit organization as a major financial supporter. Do you see this is as something that gives your character an advantage?
She truly cares about the people in her community and is trying to do what she can to help them via her work at the Center. She has their trust, and understands her power but doesn’t take advantage of that trust. So, sure, she enjoys taking a leadership role at the Center and it ends up being an advantage in terms of how she can mobilize people when she needs them, but I don’t believe that any of this is fueled by nefarious motivations.
On being part of the MCU
What's it like, as an actor, being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Iron Fist?
It’s so cool to be a part of something that is so complex and diverse in its storytelling! The whole idea of superheroes lets us imagine that anything is possible – and I really think that’s fantastic. Also, I find that so many of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are the definition of fierce perseverance! Even if you might not agree with what they’re fighting for all the time, they go for what they want, no holds barred! The women are especially badass!
On how she prepared for the role
Was there anything specific you did to prepare for your role as Sherry Yang?
I wasn’t really that familiar with the Marvel Universe when I got the job, so I immediately binge watched Season 1 of Iron Fist! Since Marvel is so secretive, I didn’t even know that much about my character until we started shooting, but it was really fun to get to know her more and more as we continued the season!
On favorite scenes
What did you find most interesting about your role in Iron Fist? Did you have a favorite scene?
There was so much that I got to do this season that I’d never been asked to do before on television and that was super fun. I especially loved the scene in episode four where Colleen and I had a heart to heart. Jessica Henwick and Finn Jones are both awesome, and I feel so lucky that they were my main scene partners. The most memorable scene to me, probably not surprisingly, is in episode three, where I come to Colleen’s aid… with my hair pin.
On playing an original character
What was it like portraying a character that is original to the series as opposed to having an extensive comic book background like so many characters in Iron Fist?
I think it really gave us the freedom to shape her into a person who could best serve the story that show runner Raven Metzner and the rest of the writing team imagined, and also play into my strengths as an actor. Stephanie Maslansky, our incredible costume designer, did an amazing job making me feel that I came out of the comic book, with her attention to detail, color schemes and lines that she put me in. My clothes were all stunning!
On what kind of her she would be
If you could be any superhero who would you be and why?
I really enjoyed thinking about this! I would want to be some sort of Super Healer, where I could heal any kind of wound or illness that anyone had – but I’d only do this for people who were using their powers for good, unless it was a case of heartbreak!
Iron Fist season two is now available on Netflix.