The newest addition to the Netflix Marvel universe, Iron Fist, has been out for a little over a week now, more than enough time for most viewers to binge through all thirteen episodes. But watching the show is only half of the fun; we all know that the best part about watching a Marvel show is nerding out over all the changes and Easter eggs hidden along the way. And Iron Fist is no exception.
There are bound to be changes anytime a comic character is adapted to another medium. Heck, there are changes when a comic character is adapted to another comic book. Some are big, some are small; some are for the better, some are for the worse. We’re going to try not to pass judgement here, but you can feel free to in the comments.
Obviously, everything from here on out is Spoiler City, for both the show and the comics.
So, how does the newest incarnation of Iron Fist stack up against the original? Here’s Iron Fist: The 15 Biggest Changes Between Netflix And The Comics.
For all the worries that Netflix might do away with K’un-Lun entirely, the mystical Himalayan city has remained mostly the same. The city is ancient, run by Yu-Ti the August Personage in Jade, and only occasionally aligning with the earthly plane. Danny Rand is stranded outside the city’s gates as a child and trained by Lei Kung the Thunderer, then fights the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying to gain the powers of the Iron Fist. The broad strokes are all the same.
K’un-Lun is an actual, vibrant city in the comics, though. Moreover, it’s actually shown. In the show, there are only brief flashes, and most of those are interiors or the mountains outside the city. The city proper is only shown once, in the distance, and it resembles a large monastery more than a city.
14. Death of the Rand Family
In the comics’ lore, Danny’s father, Wendell Rand, was trying to bring his family to K’un-Lun when he was betrayed by his partner, Harold Meachum, and dropped off a cliff. Danny and his mom, Heather, sent Harold packing, throwing rocks at him and forcing him into the Himalayan wilderness. Mom and son continued searching for K’un-Lun, only for Heather to die on the city’s doorsteps fending off a pack of wolves. And she definitely died, coming back as a ghost a couple times.
The show does away with the wolves and the cliff, but keeps Harold’s treachery. Probably. That part’s still a little murky. Instead, the Rand family airplane crashes in the Himalayas, due to Madame Gao’s meddling (possibly at Harold’s request, depending on which villain you trust more). Wendell bites it in the crash, but Heather is sucked out a whole in the roof. The show makes a point to tell us that the body was never found, which, by comic show rules, means she’s probably still alive.
13. Bride of Nine Spiders
Bride of Nine Spiders is the Immortal Weapon of the Kingdom of Spiders, one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. She’s a fearsome warrior, with blood like ice and the full command of spiders. In fact, she is spiders. Just full of ’em. The Bride later allies with Iron Fist and the other Immortal Weapons to fight off Hydra when they try to take over the Heart of Heaven.
Netflix’s version of the Bride is pretty heavily nerfed, appearing briefly as the second of three Hand pawns fighting the Iron Fist during a challenge. She uses poison presumably derived from spiders, but no eight-legged-freaks burst out of her chest at any point. We get why the changes were made, but that still feels like a miss, Netflix.
12. Jeri Hogarth
As has been covered far and wide, Jeryn Hogarth is a dude in the comic books. He’s Danny Rand’s right hand man, essentially running Rand Enterprises while Danny’s out Fisting bad guys. He’s also kind of pudgy and a little bit of a coward.
Hogarth is played by Carrie-Anne Moss in the Netflix universe, making her first appearance in Jessica Jones and actually getting a lot more screen time there. In Iron Fist, she knows Danny, but she’s far from taking over the company for him. And she’s definitely not about to back down from a fight. You don’t cast Trinity to play some sad sack, after all.
11. Colleen Wing
Comic book Colleen Wing is a long-time ally of Iron Fist, as well as a private investigator partnered with Misty Knight. Together the two women are the Daughters of the Dragon, and nothing would make fans happier than the two of them getting their own Netflix show.
Comic Colleen and Danny Rand never bone, nor is she a cage fighter or a secret Hand operative. Although, technically, she does work with The Nail, a splinter group of Daredevil’s all-new, all-different Hand, so maybe that last part’s not so different after all.
What both Colleens definitely have in common, though, is a fondness for white jumpsuits and fighting with a samurai sword.
10. Misty Knight
OK, we know what you’re saying: Misty Knight wasn’t even in Iron Fist. That is correct, but that in and of itself is a huge difference. Comic Misty is Danny Rand’s long-term girlfriend. Like, forty years long-term. She debuted in Marvel Premiere #21 and has been a constant in Danny’s life regardless of where he showed up.
Netflix Misty made her debut in Luke Cage, as a police detective and love interest for Luke. And while she seems well on her way to becoming a private investigator/vigilante with a cybernetic arm, a la her comics counterpart, it’s hard to imagine Simone Messick’s Knight shacking up with Finn Jones’ Fist. She’s been confirmed for Netflix’s The Defenders, though, so we won’t have to wait long to find out.
9. The Hand
Iron Fist has virtually no ties to the Hand in the comics, save for that one time when Junzo Muto – the leader of a young, hip offshoot of the Hand – steals his powers. The Iron Fist is most certainly not “the sworn enemy of the Hand,” as the Netflix version likes to repeat ad nauseam.
The comic book Fist does have a recurring beef with HYDRA, though, so it’s entirely plausible that Netflix just traded one evil organization out for another. Which is fine, we guess, but if they’d stuck with HYDRA maybe we could have gotten the SHIELD/MCU/Netflix crossover we really want.
In the comics, Bakuto is a Daredevil adversary and gangster for the Hand – officially, the South American daiymo – only making a single brief appearance before being killed by White Tiger.
Netflix, meanwhile, has taken some liberties with the character. He’s still a big deal within the Hand, but that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. Rather than being a gun-toting crime boss, Bakuto’s basically a new age ninja, recruiting wayward teens for nefarious purposes, and way too obsessed with the Iron Fist, teaching Danny Rand how to do stuff he really should already have known.
Anyway, it’s not long before Bakuto’s granola-crunching facade crumbles and he tries to steal Colleen Wing’s blood. (Presumably to give to Elektra.) This makes everyone angry and he gets “killed” by Davos, though his body disappears soon thereafter.
7. Madame Gao/Crane Mother
Madame Gao does not exist in the Marvel Comics universe; she was created for the first season of Daredevil. Smart money’s on her being Crane Mother, though, so we’re going to roll with that assumption.
Comic book Crane Mother is a skeletal old lady, ruling over K’un-Zi, another of the Celestial Cities. K’un-Zi had their own Immortal Weapon, referred to only as Crane Champion, who was killed by the previous Fist, Orson Randall. Because Crane Mother can only give birth to a champion once every 300 years, she took in Davos after he was exiled from K’un-Lun, training him as the Steel Serpent.
Crane Mother’s not affiliated with the Hand in the comics either. She is, however, involved with Hydra’s attempted takeover of the Heart of Heaven, so it’s not like she’s not evil. We’ll give the show that one.
The confusing part is that Netflix Danny keeps saying he trained under the Order of the Crane Mother in K’un-Lun. Does this mean that Gao isn’t Crane Mother? Or simply that she’s more tied to the show’s K’un-Lun than the comics version? Only time and more seasons will tell.
6. Ward & Joy Meachum
Ward Meachum is Harold’s brother, not his son, in the comics. After Harold is killed by a mysterious third-party, Ward and his niece, Joy Meachum, blame Iron Fist for the murder and set about making his life incredibly difficult. The two hire several villains to kill Danny Rand, including the Steel Serpent, before Joy has a change of heart. Ward, meanwhile, allies himself with the Skrulls during their attempted conquest of Earth. He eventually gives in to his paranoia, betrays the Skrulls, and is incinerated by the Super-Skrull.
Aside from the lack of Skrulls (come on, Netflix!), it would appear that Ward and Joy trade places in the televisual Iron Fist. By the end of the series, Ward has seemingly come around to working with Danny, while Joy is plotting with Davos to kill him.
5. Davos/Steel Serpent
Comic book Davos was the son of Lei Kung and a contemporary of Danny Rand’s father, Wendell. After Wendell was selected for the Fist instead of him, Davos went and tried to fight Shou-Lao anyway, failing and getting exiled from K’un-Lun for his troubles. And while Davos did grow up and train with Wendell Rand, they were never super close, and he certainly didn’t have a tempestuous bromance with Danny.
As mentioned earlier, Davos resented both of the Rands after that, joining up with Crane Mother and becoming the Steel Serpent, and constantly plotting to steal the power of the Iron Fist for himself.
In the Netflix universe, Steel Serpent is, currently, technically, only affiliated with the heroin that Madame Gao is slinging. Though, with Davos allying himself with Gao, it looks like that could all change next season.
4. Harold Meachum
The ink-and-paper Harold orchestrates the murder of Wendell Rand all on his own, before getting lost in the Himalayas and losing both of his legs to frostbite. He eventually makes it back to New York to finish his hostile takeover of Rand Enterprises, setting up traps and waiting for the day Iron Fist returns to kill him. Ultimately, though, Danny Rand takes pity on Harold and spares his life, only for Harold to immediately get murdered by Ninja, full stop.
The on-screen Harold probably orchestrated the plane crash that killed Wendell Rand, though we’ve only got Madame Gao’s word to go on for that. Harold wasn’t there during the crash, at any rate, and never lost his legs. He did die of cancer, though, only to get rebirthed by the Hand as their corporate slave. Then his son Ward killed him two more times, cremating him after the last one. At least both Harolds have that in common.
3. Zhou Cheng
Zhou Cheng is the seemingly immortal human host of the demon Ch’i-Lin, who needs to eat the Iron Fist’s heart to get to the unhatched egg of Shou-Lao the Undying and absorb the dragon’s power. He does this on every Iron Fist’s thirty-third birthday, usually killing them.
The show’s Zhou Cheng, however, is a drunk guy guarding the Hand’s heroin factory. He’s cool and all, but he’s barely on screen and there isn’t much else to the character outside of one of the show’s better fight scenes.
2. The Costume
The Netflix Iron Fist doesn’t wear a costume or, really, anything even approximating one. The closest we get is some grainy footage of a mid-century Iron Fist punching bad guys in a forest. And, even then, the movie’s in black-and-white, making the togs looks more like Daredevil’s original all-black costume than the traditional green-and-yellow of the Iron Fist.
On the flip side, the print version of Iron Fist has pretty much had the same costume since day one. Agamotto magic-changed his duds to a gold-and-white scheme a few years back, but it’s otherwise the same skin-tight jumpsuit. Compared to other characters, he’s rarely seen out of it.
1. Iron Fist Isn’t Very Good At Being Iron Fist
Comic book Iron Fist steps out of K’un-Lun a fully-realized hero, ready to beat up bad dudes and do all the standard Fist stuff, like heal himself, recharge, and punch real hard. He leaves with the blessing of Yu-Ti and Lei Kung, with the understanding that he’ll come back if needed. And, yes, Danny Rand did learn more about the history of the Fist and some advanced techniques later on, but he was a superhero from the get-go, and one of the few that never seemed to have an existential crisis about it.
Contrast that with the Netflix version: Danny can barely get his Iron Fist to work; he has to learn how to heal and recharge his chi from Bakuto, a Hand member with no actual K’un-Lun affiliation. Danny ran away from K’un-Lun in shame and isn’t even sure if he wants to be the Fist. Even Davos, his best friend, calls him the “worst Iron Fist ever.”
We generally don’t like agreeing with supervillains, but the man’s got a point. Watching a hero struggle with his powers can be compelling, but that’s not who Iron Fist is.
Anything else we missed? Any comics lore we forgot? Sound off in the comments below.