Henwick’s Colleen-centric choice to withdraw from Shang-Chi‘s casting process (allowing an unknown in Meng’er Zhang to nab the breakthrough, seemingly-spinoff-set Xialing role,) was, in hindsight, quite a risky move. After all, Colleen, and her entire roster of shared-universe Netflix Marvel “Streel Level” shows, had become a casualty of a substantial tectonic shake-up that saw studio Marvel Television—which produced every modern Marvel show before Disney+ offering WandaVision—close shop to become absorbed into the monolithic Disney-dominated purview of movie arm Marvel Studios. Thus, Colleen was essentially an apocryphal character to the MCU, making any gesture designed to keep her alive an arguably-quixotic pursuit.
“I did a self-tape for both [Shang-Chi and The Matrix], says Henwick, explaining the gravity of her choice. “And then they wanted me to screen test for Shang-Chi with Phone [Liu] or chemistry read for Matrix. It’s actually not that bizarre. It’s kind of standard if you’re going to screen test, especially coming from England. They would have to fly me out and put me up, so you have to sign the contract beforehand. And the contract basically says that you must give them a period of exclusivity. So, they knew that I had the offer from each side, and they, of course, put that exclusivity clause right front and center. There was no guarantee I would get either, and if I had chosen the wrong one, I guess we wouldn’t be on the phone today.”
Of course, praise for her Matrix performance aside, those who have been keeping up with the MCU know that Henwick’s loyalty to Colleen might just pay off, since—in a manner that feels like Spider-Man: No Way Home’s multiverse villain outbreak—Street Level actors are suddenly breaching the MCU. Indeed, we’ve already witnessed two surprise incursions in just one week. It started with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk/Kingpin on Hawkeye, which would complement one of Spider-Man: No Way Home’s many applause moments, specifically when Daredevil star Charlie Cox appears once again as Matt Murdock, who, in a professional capacity, consults with a framed Peter Parker in a session that fortuitously provides the blind lawyer a chance to demonstrate his uncanny radar senses. Consequently, with Colleen’s Street Level cohorts seemingly christened into the MCU, her revival prospects have gone from nil to feasible in a rather short period of time.
“Yes, I already knew,” says Henwick when asked about the two recent Street Level surprise returns. Interestingly enough, she remains unsure about a return, at least for now. “Charlie knew about that opportunity years ago,” she reveals of the actor’s long-kept secret No Way Home return. “He already knew it was happening. I think I would have heard by now if there were any plans with Colleen.”
Henwick’s apparent skepticism is warranted, since speculation about Colleen’s MCU arrival is premature. That’s because Cox’s shocking return as Matt Murdock/Daredevil—which is now confirmed to continue in the MCU in some manner with a new proper costumed crime-fighting tenure—is clearly the first priority in this apparent salvage operation for the Street Level characters. This is especially the case since Colleen—as celebrated as Henwick’s rendition may be—is still best known as a supporting character for Iron Fist, who still has a better chance than her of being revived in the MCU, especially on the back of Shang-Chi-established martial arts mysticism. Yet, his revival would likely be in a rebooted form without star Finn Jones, whose performance was a source of scathing criticism for the Netflix series, despite an arguably better second season rebound.
Nevertheless, the idea of having Colleen in the MCU is one that would likely have significant support from the currently frenzied fandom of the Street Level shows. Her Iron Fist depiction wasn’t just as a trope-fulfilling love interest or stereotypical fighting femme fatale. Rather, the show took a slow, layered approach by presenting an eccentrically alluring martial arts instructor; a façade that initially hid an extensive past connected to criminal ninja gang The Hand, yielding an intriguing heroic arc across appearances for the show’s 2017 first season, then Netflix crossover The Defenders, followed by a one-off on Luke Cage, and culminated in the series-closing second season of Iron Fist with her gaining the power of the Iron Fist itself. Additionally, her Marvel Comics-emulating team-ups with Simone Missick’s cop-turned-superhero Misty Knight seemingly foreshadowed “Daughters of the Dragon” spinoff prospects—an ultimately-unrealized idea that still excites Henwick.