WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for Marvel’s Iron Fist
There’s no question that the launch of Marvel’s Iron Fist series isn’t quite what was hoped for, with the new Netflix series being considered by many to be the worst Defenders origin story. Nevertheless, there are sure to be fans of the titular hero Danny Rand, the potential of seeing even more connections with the Marvel movie universe, and those purely in this for the Easter Egg hunt. We’ve got the latter group covered, singling out some of the comic book adaptations and notes of fan service most likely to be overlooked.
The days of truly subtle hints or seeds for the future seems to be largely over, opting instead for overt reference to other famous Marvel superheroes and events. Still, a character like the Immortal Iron Fist and his cast of supporting characters have a rich history in the comic book world. The creators paid homage where they could, meaning fans have a few obscure goodies to look for. And with our breakdown, they won’t need to look too hard.
Needless to say there will be SPOILERS in our list of Marvel’s Iron Fist: Easter Eggs & Comic References.
12. Lei-Kung The Thunderer
Danny lets it spill somewhat early on that he learned his skills at the feet of Lei-Kung the Thunderer during his years in K’un Lun (although we’re a long way away from him going into detail about that particular capital city of Heaven). It’s in keeping with the comics, where Danny was offered as a new student of the Thunderer, should he choose to accept him as a mentor. Danny did, and the ruthless training commenced.
The significance of Lei-Kung is amplified by the identity and fate of his own son, who will have a role to play in the story a bit later on. For the time being, Danny is simply haunted by the lessons of his master – an incredibly gifted martial artist in the Marvel Universe who once ushered Hope Summers – the genetically gifted daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey – to K’un Lun to pass on his knowledge, as well.
11. Chodak & Tashi
One of these easter eggs is not like the other, but we haven’t arrived at this one easily. When Danny is giving his account of the training in K’un Lun, he makes mention of two distinct people among the warrior monks he lived with: Chodak and Tashi. First off, there are no characters in the established Marvel mythology who match those names… but there are matching examples elsewhere. As in the Chodak Empire, a race of aliens from the extended (non-canonical) world of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It may be a coincidence, but it’s given a bit more weight when you consider the second name Danny offers. “Tashi delek” is a Tibetan greeting, but if you’re thinking extended universes, specifically those set in galaxies or time period far away, there’s one instance of “Tashi” (pronounced by Danny as “toshee”) every sci-fi geek is guaranteed to know off by heart. That’s Tosche Station, the Tatooine hub for moisture farmers and other wandering youth in Star Wars (1977).
10. Danny’s Fake Passport
Danny’s arrival in New York begins as mysteriously as his actual passage there, but viewers get a partial explanation when his personal belongings are searched prior to taking up residence in a mental health facility. There, his doctor presents him with what appears to be a pretty strong piece of evidence against his claim of being Danny Rand, alive and well: a Canadian passport bearing his photo, and the name ‘John Anderson.’ It’s admittedly a common name, but it’s still a reference to Marvel Comics – Spider-Man, as a matter of fact.
The character John Anderson was introduced as a neighbor of Peter Parker’s during the mid-2000s, but hailed from New Zealand, not Canada. He still managed to make a memorable mark offering help to Spider-Man, playing the part of the costumed ‘Kiwi Kid’ to help distract Doctor Octopus during a battle with Marvel’s webslinger.
9. Davos a.k.a. Steel Serpent
Throughout the first half of the series, Danny remembers his time spent in K’un Lun fondly, sharing a number of memories surrounding his time spent with a friend named Davos. But as Danny waxes reminiscent about climbing a tower to enjoy some wine with his old pal, comic book fans knew the first parts of a very different story were being told. After all, ‘Davos’ is the name of the Steel Serpent – the power hungry warrior who eventually became one of the arch nemeses of the Iron Fist.
The details have changed over the years, but the basic outline remains the same. Davos is the son of Lei-Kung the Thunderer, the man who trained Danny in martial arts. Where Danny arrived to master the arts and claim the Iron Fist for himself by defeating Shou-Lao, Davos failed. Lost to shame, jealousy, and the belief that the greatness he was born to achieve was stolen from him, Davos took the evil route. In the Netflix series, it’s heroin that’s given the name ‘Steel Serpent,’ so who knows how much will change in the future.
8. “Daughter of The Dragon”
It goes against the lessons she teaches to her students at the dojo, but Colleen Wing can’t help but flex her muscles against fellow combatants in a regular cage fight. When she puts her skills into practice, she does so under the fighter name of ‘the Daughter of the Dragon.’ No explanation is really given, but comic fans know that it’s a playful nod towards a partnership and comic series that could – emphasis on could – come to Marvel’s Netflix universe. That’s assuming the masterminds of the Defenders property realize that uniting Colleen Wing and Misty Knight as the “Daughters of the Dragon” is a win-win idea.
The name was given in a bit of mockery from Steel Serpent himself, leading Colleen and Misty (friends in the comics) to officially partner up (although most of these issues didn’t actually focus solely on their own New York adventuring, sadly). The nod of recognition may be all fans have to look forward to until some shocking announcements are made in the future – that, and Colleen’s choice of a white tracksuit for her fights, also reminiscent of her comic book look.
7. Kirby’s Monster Stickers
One of the only endearing glimpses we get into Danny’s childhood doesn’t come in a flashback sequence, but a modern scene. When Danny finally claims his place at Rand, he is given his father’s old office as a peace offering – and wastes no time in diving underneath it to see if the stickers he placed as a child remain. They do, offering the creators of the series a chance to pay homage to one of the greatest comic book legends to ever put pencil to paper: Jack Kirby.
The stickers bring some of his outlandish creatures and monstrous creations into a new medium, given slight visual makeovers to match as a set. Among those visible are Orrgo the Unconquerable, debuted Strange Tales #90 (1951), a teleporting, hypnotizing, levitating alien known as a Mentelleronite. Also included on the cosmic cameo is Mangog, fueled by the victims of Thor’s father Odin (first appearing in Thor #154 back in 1968).
6. Bad News, Karen
The story of Iron Fist so far includes more than a few ways that Ward Meacham has disappointed his presumed dead father, with one of the biggest blow-ups coming in what should really have been a predictable interview with the press. When Danny commands that a breakthrough drug be sold at no profit for the company, Ward is ordered to control the story, and control it he does: by inviting a reporter to hear his side of the development, in which Danny Rand is a foolish, bleeding heart eager to cost his company millions. What the reporter hears is the real story: a billionaire businessman is casting off profits to save countless lives around the globe.
The story is hatched in Ward’s presence, though he’s oblivious to the real angle, as the reporter hurries her way out of his office. Before she’s even left, she places a call to her editor – “Ellison” – and informs him that she’s got a story that will keep “Karen” off of the front page. That’s a reference to Mitchell Ellison, the editor of the New York Bulletin who played a key role in the second season of Daredevil, and Karen Page, the Bulletin’s newest (and apparently wildly successful) reporter. As an added joke at the reporter’s expense, the story does make the front page… of the business section.
5. Night Nurse Trains at Chikara Dojo
When Danny first meets Colleen Wing, she’s posting flyers for self defense and martial arts courses at Chikara Dojo – a detail Danny instantly spots, beginning their relationship (in and around that very dojo). The name, for those curious, means “power” in more than just a physical sense. But even if it’s an original wrinkle for the Netflix series, the dojo establishes a connection between Iron Fist and the Luke Cage series that preceded it. In fact, it laid the groundwork for Claire Temple’s own role in this show.
In the final episode of Luke Cage‘s first season, Claire can be seen spotting one of those very same flyers, and pulling a tab to start taking some martial arts training of her own (she’s seen enough to know that it might come in handy). Iron Fist delivers on that set up, showing that Claire has actually excelled in her studies… as if fans would have expected anything less.
4. Danny’s Opponents
When Danny actually seems to be making progress against the influence of The Hand, he poses a challenge: should he defeat the warriors called to kill him, then The Hand will leave his family’s company. Ultimately Madame Gao reneges on the deal, but it does give Danny a chance to test his might against a few opponents. Two of those enemies are pulled directly from the comics: Bride of Nine Spiders, and a villain known as Scythe.
The Bride was introduced in Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker’s Immortal Iron Fist series when Danny returned to the city of K’un Lun to take part in a tournament held between all seven capital cities of Heaven. As K’un Lun’s Iron Fist, he qualified as one of the tournament’s Immortal Weapons, with the Bride another among them. The Bride appears similar to her comic book appearance by artists David Aja and Kano. She no longer attacks through a flying swarm of spiders bursting from her skin, but we can’t say that’s a complaint.
3. The Dogs of Hell
Another mention is made of a gang of New York bikers known as the Dogs of Hell – an organization that should ring a bell for all fans of Marvel’s non-film offerings. The group made their first appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a plaything for the Asgardian Lorelei, but would make a more… memorable appearance on Daredevil in its second season.
It’s the Dogs of Hell who had their motorcycle blown up by Frank Castle, and wound up taking on Daredevil himself in the second season’s extended, single-take hallway fight scene. They didn’t stand up to his martial arts and swinging metal chain all that well, so here’s hoping they’ve gotten a bit more effective in the meantime.
2. Questionably Sober Private Eye?
As the situation at Rand deteriorates to the point that Joy and Ward have to take real action, it becomes more important than ever that Joy has spent time and money digging up dirt on the rest of the board members (affairs, etc.). Since she’s not exactly the kind of person to pick up a camera and go stalking in the dead of night, she’s hired a private investigator to do the job for her. One with serious skills, and who knows how to keep her mouth shut about a client’s work… assuming that she’s actually sober.
That’s an unmistakable reference to the owner and operator of Alias Investigations, known better to audiences as Jessica Jones. Her own series paid a great deal of attention to Jessica’s self-medicating behavior, so it only makes sense that her clients take notice, too. A small nod to fans to show that the Defenders‘ key players are in motion, even if their presence is only felt, not yet seen.
1. The Stan Lee Cameo
There was never any doubt that comic book legend Stan Lee would be making a cameo, having done so in poster or photo form in all preceding Netflix series (the same photo shoot, too). This time around, fans can keep their eyes peeled for his face on a recruitment poster for the NYPD just after Claire and Jeri meet up. Pay attention to his name, too – ‘Captain Irving Forbush’ is one Marvel character that every viewer should look into.
So there you have it Marvel fans: every subtle nod to the comic book mythology, concealed reference to another Marvel property, and loving bit of fan service for the die-hards out there. There are sure to be more, so let us know if you’ve got any that should be added to our list.