After an expedition with his billionaire parents went horribly, horribly wrong, Daniel Rand, the child who would become Iron Fist, found himself stranded on a frozen mountaintop, near the ancient, mystical city of K’un-Lun. Rescued and adopted as one of their own, young Danny trained with Lei Kung the Thunderer to become a champion martial artist, before defeating Shou-Lao the Undying and gaining the legendary powers of the Immortal Iron Fist.
And that’s just the first two sentences.
When your history is as couched in ancient mysticism as that of the Iron Fist, there’s bound to be an overabundance of crazy. And when you’re also a forty-year-old Marvel comics character? Man, you wouldn’t know normal if it was bitten by a radioactive spider and helped you punch an army of Nazi robots in the face. (Which totally happened, by the way.)
From possession to clones to interdimensional deathmatches, here are The 15 Most WTF Things About Iron Fist.
15. He Hugged A Dragon To Get His Powers
Danny Rand likes to tell everyone that he obtained his powers after defeating the mystical serpent Shou-Lao the Undying in combat and plunging his bare fists into the fire pit containing Shou-Lao’s exposed heart. And that is every bit as difficult and awe-inspiring as it sounds. But here’s the part he always seems to leave out: Iron Fist had to hug the dragon to death to get his magic punching powers.
For all of Shou-Lao the Undying’s vaunted mightiness and invulnerability, he did have a weakness – the dragon-shaped scar on his chest. If this symbol was covered, the serpent would die. While we suppose stapling a sheet over the scar might work, Danny Rand, and all the other Iron Fists before him, instead chose to “squeeze the life” out of Shou-Lao and burn his sigil onto their own skin. They hugged him ‘til it hurt.
14. He Trained In A Magical Disappearing City
K’un-Lun is a mystical city that resides in the space between spaces of Tibet and only aligns with the Earth once every ten years. Danny Rand trained there under the tutelage of master martial artist Lei Kung the Thunderer and Yu-Ti, the August Personage of Jade and leader of K’un-Lun. For generations, the two have readied Iron Fists to defeat Shou-Lao the Undying (with hugs!) and obtain the power of the dragon fire, rendering their fists unto like iron.
Wendell Rand, Danny’s father, had been stranded in K’un-Lun as a child. Though he was being groomed to become the next Fist, Wendell bailed and fled to New York City, where he became a boring, non-magical billionaire. Seeing the error of his ways, he was on his way back to K’un-Lun with his wife, young son, and business partner, when tragedy and treachery befell them: Wendell fell to his death, mom was eaten by wolves, and the partner was stranded in the Himalayan wilderness and lost his legs to frostbite. Danny was taken in by Yu-Ti and, well, you know.
13. Iron Fist Pretended To Be Daredevil
After Matt Murdock was publicly outed as Daredevil and sent to jail for beating people up without a license, his buddy Danny Rand donned the red spandex and ran around punching bad guys as Daredevil instead. This was enough to get Murdock released from prison, at which point the blind lawyer split town. With the Superhero Registration Act looming, this was undoubtedly the right call.
Danny, meanwhile, continued to dress up like Daredevil, even going so far as to join Captain America and his Secret Avengers during the first “Civil War” storyline. Eventually, though, Matt Murdock came back to Hell’s Kitchen and Danny returned to wearing his own tights.
The ruse was so convincing, in fact, that current Netflix Daredevil Charlie Cox actually referred to Danny Rand’s Daredevil’s stint on the Avengers as proof that DD could hang with the big boys on the silver screen. If only, Charlie. If only.
12. His Original Solo Run Tanked
After debuting in Marvel Premiere #15 in 1974, Iron Fist was quickly promoted to his own comic. Fifteen issues later, though, Iron Fist was looking at the business end of an abrupt cancellation.
Heaving a desperate Hail Mary, Marvel partnered Iron Fist with Luke Cage in the pages of Power Man, another title unexpectedly circling the drain. Two negatives making a positive, Power Man and Iron Fist proved to be more popular than either individual hero could have hoped, and the tales of their legendary bromance ran for nearly a decade.
After the end of Power Man and Iron Fist, though, it seemed like Iron Fist was set to be a nerd trivia answer and not much else. But, by the mid-2000s, someone decided Danny Rand was ready to take a stab at the spotlight once again, and Iron Fist was given his own title (The Immortal Iron Fist) and a prominent spot on Luke Cage’s New Avengers. Lately, he’s been teamed up with Cage again in a new Power Man and Iron Fist, as well as the Living Weapon series. And then, of course, there’s his upcoming show on Netflix.
Talk about failing up.
11. He Was Replaced By A Clone – Twice
After Danny got doused with a deadly dose of radiation, Luke Cage escorted him back to K’un-Lun for some magical medical treatment. Once there, Iron Fist was immediately replaced by a doppelganger.
The H’ylthri, a plantlike alien race and the enemies of K’un-Lun, snuck in while Danny was napping and swapped him out with one of their own plant clones. Despite this new Iron Fist acting oddly and wearing a red costume, neither Luke Cage nor Danny’s girlfriend, Misty Knight, seemed to notice.
Eventually, Plant Fist found himself using his healing powers to help a Shazam knockoff named Captain Hero. For reasons too convoluted to explain, Captain Hero beat the meditating Fist to death. Luke Cage was blamed for the murder. We’ll give you one guess why.
Several real-world years later, Danny Rand showed up again, this time trying to take over the Savage Land. Namor, of all people, realized something was up and exposed this Danny as a Skrull imposter. Namor, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Doctor Strange then set out after the real Danny Rand, only to find him right where they left him, deep in a trance in K’un-Lun. Oops.
10. He Killed Himself So He Could Win A Fight (Against His Mom)
Then: Young Danny slips on the frozen mountaintop, knocking his father and mother, Heather, over the edge. Harold Meachum, Wendell’s partner, rushes over and saves Heather, but lets Papa Rand fall. Heather and Danny chase away Meachum, then continue searching for K’un-Lun, only to be attacked by wolves outside the entrance. Heather dies defending her son, and her soul is welcomed to Feng-Tu, the afterlife of K’un-Lun.
Now: Iron Fist is protecting a woman named Jade, the “soul of humanity.” Evil wizard Dhasha Khan, wanting Jade for himself, transports them both to Feng-Tu where he sics his henchwoman Silver Dragon on Iron Fist. A mortal in a realm of the dead, he can’t do much damage, so Danny has an archer kill him in the real world. But before he can lay the smackdown on Silver Dragon, they realize she’s Danny’s mom!
Heather won’t kill Danny, so Dhasha Khan kills her. This cheeses off Danny something ferocious, so he goes after Khan, only for Khan to transport them back to the real world, where being a spirit is once again a liability. Focusing his chi, Iron Fist becomes just solid enough to knock Khan off the top of a skyscraper, killing him.
9. The Iron Fist Was Taken From Him
Tying K’un-Lun to his heartbeat with crazy magicks, Iron Fist tries to merge the mystical city with Manhattan, in a misguided attempt to cleanse the world of darkness. Instead, he gets kidnapped by Junzo Muto, the teenage punk fronting the Hand, and has the power of the Iron Fist stolen away.
Weirdly OK with this, Danny moves on. At least until the Hand kidnap Misty Knight. Turns out, Junzo needs Danny in Tokyo, since K’un-Lun is still tied to his heartbeat and Junzo wants to try the merger thing again. Danny hops on a red eye, runs into Wolverine, and together they defeat the Hand. They are, however, unable to reclaim the Iron Fist.
Some time later, Chiantang – aka the Black Dragon, aka the dragon that created Shou-Lao in the first place – seeks out Danny. Chiantang’s super pissed at Black Panther, but doesn’t feel like fighting him himself. So, borrowing a favor from the dragon gods, Chiantang restores the Iron Fist within Danny, simultaneously brainwashing him into fighting Panther. There’s a fight, Panther knocks Fist out, Fist’s brain gets fixed, the two take down the Black Dragon, and everyone lives happily ever after.
8. He Was Kidnapped And Brainwashed By The Thunderbolts
Danny Rand, not the brightest bulb in the box, walks straight into a trap set by Norman Osborn. Back at Osborn’s secret lair, Danny is brainwashed into joining the evil Thunderbolts – mostly. Try as he might, Osborn can’t seem to get Iron Fist to fight Luke Cage in any of his simulations. Osborn has some words with his brainwasher-in-chief and is assured that the problem will be fixed.
Speaking of Luke Cage, Osborn tries to kidnap him soon thereafter. Power Man puts up more of a fight than his partner, but still ends up taken prisoner. Before he can be mind-controlled though, Luke escapes, punching his way through the Thunderbolts with the help of Ant-Man (whom he had swallowed earlier). Ten feet from the exit, he runs into the brainwashed Iron Fist.
Danny starts punching while Luke starts talking, trying to break his buddy free of the mind control. In response, Danny Iron Fists Luke’s unbreakable face into pulp. Psyche! The blood is from rats, the whole thing was a ruse, Power Man and Iron Fist brawl their way out of Thunderbolts Mountain, and then they go get pancakes.
7. Iron Fist Was Based On Another Hero – Who Later Showed Up In His Comic
Things might get a little meta here, so buckle in. Iron Fist was based on the Golden Age hero Amazing-Man, from Centaur Comics. Thirty years later, the copyright-free Amazing-Man was retconned into the Prince of Orphans, one of the Immortal Weapons and an enemy/ally to Danny Rand.
See if this sounds familiar: John Aman is an American orphan raised by benevolent monks in Tibet and trained to the highest degree of physical and mental aptitude. He’s given a magical power and a superhero name, then he heads back to the West to fight evil. Admittedly, John’s power was to turn into green mist, but, still.
In the modern day, it’s revealed that Iron Fist is one of seven Immortal Weapons, from one of seven Celestial Cities. Among the others is the mysterious Prince of Orphans who – what? – can turn into a green mist! He eventually reveals himself as John Aman, the very same Amazing-Man that Iron Fist’s creators used for “inspiration.”
6. He Competed In A Mystical Mortal Kombat Tournament
As long as K’un-Lun has existed, there has been an Iron Fist to defend the city – when they’re not defending Earth, obvs. But K’un-Lun is only one of Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, and each city has their own champion with their own icon and fighting style. Every 88 years, these cities converge into the Heart of Heaven, and the Immortal Weapons whale on each other to determine a victor. The cities are all laid out on an ethereal plane, and the winning city takes the position closest to the Earth, intersecting with the mortal realm every ten years, while the loser only gets one chance a century. That’s a long time to go without Hot Pockets.
After the previous Iron Fist bounced before his tournament started, Yu-Ti is hellbent on making sure Danny fights – which he does, but not well. He loses in the first round to Fat Cobra.
This ends up being less of a problem for K’un-Lun than they’d thought, as Hydra – working with Crane Mother, the leader of one of the other cities – invades the Heart of Heaven. The Immortal Weapons team up and Hydra quickly regrets everything.
5. A Demon Tried To Steal His Heart
The night of Danny Rand’s thirty-third birthday, he finally gets around to reading the part of the Iron Fist-ory that explains that all Iron Fists die at 33. Turns out the demon Ch’i-Lin needs to rip out the Iron Fist’s heart to get to the unhatched egg of Shou-Lao the Undying, so he can eat it and absorb the dragon’s power.
Anyway, for demon reasons, Ch’i-Lin can’t just kill Danny himself, so he possesses Zhou Cheng, who, in turn, is gifted with Ch’i-Lin’s strength as well as the ability to mind-control his own patsies.
Ambushing Danny Rand in a park, Zhou kicks the snot out of him, but Danny calls in some backup: Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing. They also get beat up, but it’s enough to get Zhou to be a hasty retreat. After Zhou threatens a group of children in Danny’s dojo, Iron Fist calls in the other Immortal Weapons. Between them, the Heroes for Hire, and Danny’s own rage, they’re finally able to defeat Ch’i-Lin … for now. Dun dun DUNN!
4. He Was Possessed By Agamotto – Twice
Turns out the Eye of Agamotto is the literal eye of the first Sorcerer Supreme, Agamotto, and he wants it back. He possesses New Avenger after New Avenger, before jumping into Iron Fist and teleporting him to another dimension. There, Agamotto spins some yarns about Doctor Strange being a world class jerk, then transports Fist back to take down Strange. Being magic bros, they figure out the ruse, then send a souped-up Wolverine back to the other dimension to fight Agamotto.
Later, after an ancient Asgardian god calls down a bunch of magic hammers and opens a portal to the monster-filled Eighth Celestial City, the Immortal Weapons group up to stop said monsters and close the portal. Also, War Machine is there.
The Weapons form a prayer circle to will the portal closed, but, instead, Iron Fist starts punching people. He’s been possessed by Agamotto again. Doctor Strange, half a world away, figures this out and magic-boosts War Machine’s guns, who then shoots Fist, freeing him of Agamotto’s grasp. Strange is still worried, though, proclaiming that Danny is now … the Immortal Weapon of Agamotto!
3. Power Man And Iron Fist Fought Daleks
Power Man and Iron Fist are invited backstage at “The Day of the Dredlox,” a play about a strange British professor fighting genocidal robots. Luke Cage isn’t impressed, but he and Danny are friends with the main actor, so he lets it slide and the three of them head off to the after-party.
A few days later, they get a call from the actor; he’s in trouble. Rushing to the scene, Power Man and Iron Fist are amazed to discover that the Dredlox are both real and real angry. The ‘bots start shooting lasers, so Danny and Luke duck into a bookstore that’s somehow larger on the inside than it seems. The proprietor is, in fact, J.A. Gamble himself, who claims that not only did he write “Day of the Dredlox” for money, but he’s also a time traveler who needs the heroes’ help to send the Dredlox back to their own time.
Luke and Danny engage the Daleks – er, Dredlox – and Doctor Who – Professor Gamble! We mean Professor Gamble – sets off a nonsense-sounding machine, transporting the robots away. Power Man and Iron Fist go to thank him, but the Professor and his bookstore have also disappeared.
2. Iron Fist Possessed A Building And Punched A God
The One, pretending to be Wendell Rand, has broken Danny’s Iron Fists, ravaged K’un-Lun, and transported its citizens to Rand headquarters in New York City. In a desperate attempt to stop him, Danny channels the Chi of all of K’un-Lun’s residents – and promptly has it stolen away.
With this new burst of K’un-Lun Chi, One-dell smashes the barriers between life and death, trying to bring back his dead wife, Heather. Instead, Zhu-Kong, the God of Fire and Universal Order, shows up and, man, is he miffed – he’s decided to just burn down the world as punishment for the One’s deeds.
Needing more than broken hands, Danny channels his Iron Fist into the Rand building, turning it into an enormous robot-thing. Inside of him, though, the Steel Serpent kills baby Shou-Lao, cutting off the Iron Fist’s Chi. Zhu-Kong wrecks the building. Danny escapes and, gifted with the One’s Chi and channeling the iron in the stars, Iron Fist punches the god in the face.
1. Iron Fist Is (Still) A White Guy
Despite Finn Jones’ protestations, Iron Fist is totally a White Savior. Danny Rand is a rich white boy that shows up in a mystical Tibetan city and out kung-fus dozens of Asian men that have been training their entire lives to be anointed the champion of the city. The city where kung fu was invented. That is the literal definition of the archetype.
Iron Fist wasn’t created in the ‘40s, when any white dude could throw on a silly costume, punch a stereotype in the face, and call himself a superhero. He was created in the 1970s, during a time when Marvel and DC were realizing the error of their ways and finally creating non-white heroes. And he’s getting his own Netflix show in the 2010s, when heroes of color are taking on the mantles of established white heroes left and right.
Even within its own mythology, the Iron Fist is a title – not a singular person. 64 of the past 66 Fists were Asian. And, as mentioned in the last entry, Pei exists and already has the power of the Iron Fist.
But she’s been forgotten. The Iron Fist that gets the glory is the rich white guy in a yellow face mask.
What the actual f***, Marvel?
The fact that Iron Fist punching a demon out of Daredevil didn’t even make the list shows that there are a lot more crazy moments out there. What else did we miss? What are your favorites?