Jessica Jones and Daredevil have been confirmed for second seasons, and Luke Cage will be getting his own Netflix series later this year. Our live-action Defenders are assembling nicely, leaving us with just one more series on the slate: Iron Fist. Iron Fist/Danny Rand has a backstory a little more complex than that of many superheroes, and this martial arts master has a huge range of past stories to explore in the upcoming series.
To get you ready for his eventual appearance on Netflix, we’ve put together 15 Things You Need To Know About Iron Fist
Warning: For those of you unfamiliar with the comics, this list contains spoilers, not just for Iron Fist, but for Civil War, Luke Cage and Daredevil as well.
Unlike the three other Netflix heroes (four, if you include the upcoming Punisher series), Danny Rand has his roots firmly in the world of the mystical. From his training in the extra-dimensional world of K’un Lun (which is built around a crashed alien spaceship, just for good measure), to his powers that come from winning a battle with an immortal dragon, to his final battles as an Immortal Weapon for one of the Seven Cities of Heaven, many of the Iron Fist stories are about as far from realism as you can get.
Presumably, the Netflix series will be focusing on his more Earth-bound adventuring and some of the more grounded villains (rather than those closely linked to K’un Lun and Danny’s rise to Iron Fist). This fits the general feeling of the existing Daredevil and Jessica Jones series, and is just a little simpler to explain on screen with a television budget.
Iron Fist has fought on a range of different teams in his time as a superhero. As well as his initial team-up with Luke Cage as one of the Heroes for Hire, he later created a much larger team under the same name, which included various other superheroes over the years.
As well as his work with Luke Cage, Danny Rand has been a New Avenger and a Secret Avenger (as Daredevil during Civil War - more on that below). He has also been one of the Defenders, a team of superheroes brought together by Doctor Strange to fight the more mystical side of evil. Netflix is currently building up to a Defenders team-up series (including Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Daredevil), which will presumably be connected to the Doctor Strange movie scheduled for November 2016.
This started as a classic superhero gambit to prove that Matt Murdock was not Daredevil. Of course, every comic fan knows that Murdock is Daredevil, but when the police figured it out, they threw Matt in jail. Iron Fist was then hired to dress as Daredevil and do some crimefighting on his behalf in order to get Murdock exonerated. This was done without Matt’s permission, and led to him breaking out of jail to challenge Iron Fist (in the Daredevil costume).
After realizing that Danny Rand was under the mask, Daredevil got on board with the plan, and asked Rand to keep up his disguise a little longer so that Matt could go undercover to try and find Foggy Nelson’s killer.
During the events of Civil War, Danny Rand was still pretending to be Daredevil. As Daredevil, he took Captain America’s side against superhero registration, and joined the Secret Avengers. He fought in the final battle of Civil War, and after the dust settled, joined the New Avengers (as Iron Fist) alongside his old friend Luke Cage.
Although we are going to see an on-screen version of the Civil War event in Captain America: Civil War, there is almost no chance that Iron Fist will appear in it. The film is set to come in May this year, while the Luke Cage Netflix series isn’t scheduled for release on Netflix until summer at the very earliest. An Iron Fist series, while planned, has no official release date set. While it’s possible that we may see Daredevil make an appearance in the Civil War film, if this happens, it will be Matt Murdock under the mask, not Danny Rand.
Unlike most of the Marvel heroes that we see in live-action, Danny Rand is not the first to hold the title of Iron Fist. Instead, he is the sixty-sixth, one of a long line of warriors to be the protector if the city of K’un Lun. Other Iron Fists have included Quan Yaozu (the first known Iron Fist), Wu Ao-Shi (the first female Iron Fist), Bei Ming-Tian, Bei Bang-Wen, Li Park, and Kwai Jun-Fan.
Danny Rand’s immediate predecessor as Iron Fist was Orson Randall, who fought in the First World War, but turned to opium and alcohol to try and deal with everything he saw. Randall ended up inspiring Danny Rand’s father, Wendell, to find K’un Lun, a choice which led to Rand becoming Iron Fist himself.
Wendell Rand learned of the existence of K’un Lun from Orson Randall (the previous Iron Fist), after training with him in Nepal. He found his way to the mystical city, where he ended up saving the life of the Lord of K’un Lun (Yu Ti) and his son, Nu-An. Recognizing Wendell’s as the protégé of Orson, Yu Ti accepted him into K’un Lun and set him to train with Lei Kung. Wendell battled Lei Kung’s son Davos for the honor of facing the dragon to gain the title of Iron Fist, and won.
If he went up against the dragon Shou-Lao and beat him, he would have become the next Iron Fist. However, Davos went up against Shou-Lao without permission, and was brutally beaten and left near death. After seeing what the dragon had done to his former friend and sparring partner, Wendell turned away from the final test, and left K’un Lun in order to live on Earth.
Like many other superheroes, Iron Fist is an orphan. He was raised by parents Wendell and Heather Rand until he was nine years old, at which point his parents took him to find the mystical city of K’un Lun, which is only accessible from Earth once every ten years. The journey to K’un Lun is a difficult one through the Himalayas, and during the trek, Wendell fell off a mountain ledge to his death (with a little help from his treacherous business partner, Harold Meacham). Heather died soon after, protecting her son from a wolf pack that found them in the mountains.
After his parent’s death, nine-year-old Danny was found by the people of K’un Lun and brought to the city. He remained in the city for ten years, only leaving after he became Iron Fist at the age of nineteen.
K’un Lun itself appears in Tibet, but exists in an entirely different dimension. The city itself is actually built around/from a spaceship that crashed in this other dimension around a million years ago. The humanoid aliens in the craft spread out, taking parts of the ship to build a city around it, although none of the inhabitants now know how K’un Lun came to be. K’un Lun is also one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, seven cities who are similarly suspended in another dimension, but appear on earth periodically. The other cities are K’un Zi, Peng Lai Island, Z’Gambo, Under City, Tiger Island and Kingdom of Spiders.
Although Danny Rand doesn’t fall into the stereotype of the wealthy playboy-turned-hero, he actually owns a company and has plenty of money. His father started the company, Rand-Meachum Inc, with his friend Harold Meacham. Also known as the Rand Corporation, the company is a multi-million dollar investment corporation. After Wendell Rand died and his son Danny was presumed dead (being raised in K’un Lun), the company was owned by Harold Meacham.
Once Danny had gained the power of the Iron Fist, he left K’un Lun and sought out Meacham, hoping for revenge against his father’s old partner (as Meacham was instrumental in his father’s death). Instead, he discovered that Meacham had lost his legs to frostbite, and decided to spare him. Meacham did die, at the hands of the Ninja, and after Danny proved that he wasn’t responsible, he became part-owner of the company alongside Meacham’s daughter, Joy.
Danny Rand’s best known relationship is with Misty Knight, a former-cop. After her arm was blown off in the line of duty, Tony Stark created a bionic arm for her, but she was still stuck behind a desk on the Force. Rather than push paper for the rest of her career, Misty left the Police Force to become a private investigator. The two met after Rand first returned to Earth and was framed for the murder of Harold Meacham, when he hired Misty (and her partner Colleen Wing) to help clear his name.
Misty will be appearing in the Netflix series, and Simone Missick will be playing her in Luke Cage (and presumably Iron Fist).
Iron Fist and Luke Cage met when Cage was blackmailed by Bushmaster into attacking Misty Knight. Iron Fist helped to defend her, and learned that Cage had been wrongfully imprisoned and was trying to clear his name. He and Misty helped the superstrong Cage prove his innocence, before the two joined forces as Heroes for Hire.
The pair were hugely successful as a crime-fighting duo, and became close friends. Luke Cage even returned to K’un Lung with Danny when Iron Fist became very ill with radiation poisoning. Their partnership eventually ended when Iron Fist appeared to be killed and Luke was blamed for his death.
Iron Fist is known for his skills in hand to hand combat, especially as a martial artist. While still a child in K’un Lun, Danny Rand trained under Lei Kung the Thunderer, K’un Lun’s most powerful warrior. Lei Kung has spent centuries training the young men of K’un Lun to face the dragon Shou Loa and become the Iron Fist (although obviously, most fail).
As well as mastering the martial art forms of K’un Lun, Danny Rand has trained in various Earth-based martial arts and with various type of weaponry. He is now one of the most skilled martial artists in the world. (Something we are bound to see lots of in the live-action version!)
Despite all the martial arts, the use of Chi as a cornerstone of his power, and the fact that K’un Lun appears in Tibet, Iron Fist isn’t actually Asian. Canonically, he is American, brought to K’un Lun by his father and raised there from the age of nine. Despite this, many fans wanted to see an Asian actor play the character in the Netflix series. Fans in favor of an Asian-American Danny Rand argued that the original character was problematic, and guilty of cultural appropriation.
Casting an Asian Danny wouldn’t take anything away from the character, they felt, and would create an opportunity for more diversity among superheroes on screen. The role has yet to be cast, so it is still possible that we may see an Asian actor in the role, but we don’t yet know for sure which way Marvel will go with their live-action Danny Rand.
Unlike many other superheroes who gain their powers through mutations or accidents, Danny Rand fought for the power of Iron Fist. In the city of K’un Lun, warriors who train with Lei Kung are given the honor of battling Shou-Lao the Undying for the title of the next Iron Fist (after the death of the existing Iron Fist). Shou-Lao is an immortal dragon who grants the powers of the Iron Fist to any who are able to beat her.
Danny Rand battled Shou-Lao at the age of nineteen, and defeated her by pressing his chest against the dragon’s, cutting her body off from the life energy of her heart (which was separate from her body). As well as gaining him the power of the Iron Fist, this battle branded his chest with the shape of the dragon.
As well as his martial arts training, the Iron Fist gives Danny powers based in mystical energy. He is able to control and focus his chi to augment his capabilities, giving him superhuman powers. He can enhance his strength, speed, stamina, agility, durability, awareness and reflexes, making him an almost unbeatable fighter.
Focusing chi also allows the Iron Fist to heal from almost any injury (although this can drain him if the injuries are extensive, and he still feels pain). His signature move, the Iron Fist Punch, is a superhumanly powerful punch created by channeling chi into his fist to make it incredibly strong and almost impervious to injury.
Can you think of any other facts that we're missing out on? Let us know in the comments!