Character Spotlight – Iron Fist
Real Name: Daniel (Danny) Rand
First Appearance: Marvel Premiere #15 (1974)
Abilities: Channels chi energy into his fist, delivering a massively powered impact; healing powers; martial arts master
My first exposure to Iron Fist was in a highly acclaimed Spider-Man story called MAXIMUM CARNAGE. In that, Spider-Man is badly injured and cannot stop the mass-murdering symbiote Carnage from rampaging across New York with his group of villains. Spider-Man is joined by heroes Cloak & Dagger, Mobius the Living Vampire, and Iron Fist himself. Iron Fist played a pretty minor role, but established what he’s there for – punching people with a big glowing hand.
Iron Fist (I’ll refer to him as Danny going forward) started off in the short series Marvel Premiere in 1974, and soon had his own solo title IRON FIST which ran from November 1975 to September 1977. As previously mentioned in Luke Cage’s spotlight, Danny and Cage teamed up in Luke’s solo comic which was later changed to Power Man and Iron First from #50 until September 1986. Since then Danny has had various solo titles, the most notable for me was THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST, co-written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction.
Danny is the son of wealthy businessman Wendell Rand and is a native of New York City. As a young boy, Wendell discovered the mystical city of K’un-L’un and befriended the city’s ruler Lord Tuan, eventually being accepted as the Lord’s son. Wendell eventually left to pursue a life of business and married socialite Heather Duncan, the two had their only son Danny some time later. When Danny was nine, Wendell and family, along with business partner Harold Meachum travelled to rediscover K’un-L’un. During the journey, Danny slipped off the path, and the rope connecting them pulled his parents off with him. Meachum, secretly in love with Wendell’s wife, let Wendell plummet to his death and offered to take Heather with him. Heather declined, journeying on with just herself and young Danny. They later found a makeshift bridge that appeared out of nowhere, and were attacked by a pack of wolves. Heather threw herself in harms way to protect her son and is killed by the wolves, but warriors from K’un-L’un arrive in time to take the orphaned Danny to safety.
Danny came under the tutelage of Lei Kung, the Thunderer, and soon becomes his most gifted student. Danny practises by pounding his fists into buckets of sand, gravel and rocks to harden them for his future battles. At 19, Danny is given the opportunity to become the Iron Fist, and has to fight a dragon known as Shou-Loa the Undying. During the battle, Danny’s chest is burnt giving him Shou-Loa’s mark which appears like a tattoo, and having defeated the dragon Danny plunges his fist into its molten heart, thus empowering him with the power of the Iron Fist. Danny isn’t the first Iron Fist, but he is the most recent in a very long line.
On K’un L’un’s reappearance on Earth, Danny takes the chance to leave and find his father’s killer. Still dressed in the clothes of K’un L’un, Danny confronts Meachum in his office and finds he had lost both legs to frostbite after abandoning Heather and Danny a decade before. Meachum accepted his fate and asked Danny to kill him, but Danny instead turned and walked away. Unbeknownst (I love that word) to Danny, a mysterious ninja then killed Meachum, which his daughter Joy then blamed on Danny. He cleared his name and started his superhero career with help from Colleen Wing and Misty Knight (which is how he then met Luke Cage).
During this time, Danny fought Sabretooth (whom it hadn’t been revealed was connected to Wolverine), Master Khan (whom the ninja that killed Meachum worked for), and the Steel Serpent, the son of Lei Kung the Thunderer who was obsessed with the power of the Iron Fist.
With Luke Cage, they form Heroes For Hire, and although the idea was superheroics for money, the pair would always try and do the right thing and often ended up with less money rather than more. Behind the scenes, Danny had reclaimed his parents company and was actually very wealthy, but chose to leave the running of the company to management while he tried to re-familiarise himself with modern society after living in K’un L’un for most of his life. The duo travelled to the mystical city at one point and battled Master Khan. In a convoluted early 90s plot, Danny then contracts cancer from radiation poisoning and then dies at the hands of Captain Hero. Danny then returns from the dead, but is actually the Super-Skrull and reveals he was also Captain Hero, and that it had been a ploy by Master Khan to ruin Danny and Luke. It turned out that Danny had been kidnapped and replaced by a doppelganger the last time they’d been in K’un L’un, and being awesome Danny manages to channel his chi energy and heals himself of the cancer, and with help of Namor and Misty Knight they kick some Master Khan booty.
After the events of ONSLAUGHT (a company wide event where Magneto, Charles Xavier and Franklin Richards are joined together in one big bag body), Heroes For Hire is reformed under Namor’s Oracle Corporation with an expanded roster. Due to poor sales though, the title was soon cancelled, and Oracle and Heroes For Hire were both disbanded.
In the IRON FIST mini-series, Miranda Rand-K’ai returns from the dead, and the race of dopplegangers responsible for Danny’s previous encounter promise to restore her to life if she retrieves an extra-dimensional artefact known as the Zodiac Key. She then goes by the name of Death String and comes into conflict with Danny and S.H.I.E.L.D. When the dopplegangers try to kill Danny, Death String turns the Zodiac Key on them and apparently dies in the process, however she actually survives.
During Ed Brubaker’s run of DAREDEVIL, Matt Murdock is in prison (for being Daredevil by night and a lawyer by day basically), and Danny is hired to protect Hell’s Kitchen dressed as Daredevil. He believed he was hired by Foggy Nelson, Murdock’s law partner, but it actually turned out to be a complicated plot by the Kingpin’s estranged wife. Danny continued to be Daredevil during CIVIL WAR, and at one point was captured by Iron Man and his Pro-Registration Avengers. Danny likened Iron Man to Judas, and gave him a silver dollar to represent the thirty pieces of silver Judas was given. Danny later joins up with Luke Cage’s New Avengers team and goes underground. During DARK REIGN, Danny is part of a group that try and find Luke Cage’s missing daughter after she was kidnapped by a Skrull impostor. Norman Osborn tries to brainwash Danny into attacking Luke, but his chi energy eventually clears his mind and the duo escape.
During the HEROIC AGE, Danny as part of the Avengers battles a demonic invasion in New York City brought on by the Eye of Agamotto, the mystical artefact formerly in Doctor Strange’s possession. Danny is transported into a white dimension where he comes into contact with the Ancient One, who claims he is responsible for invasion due to anger at Strange’s failure as Sorcerer Supreme to prevent the many catastrophes the world had experienced. When Danny returned to Earth, his costume had changed to a white and gold one, which quite frankly is awesome. He accuses Strange of stealing the Eye of Agamotto rather than being gifted it. It turned out Danny was being manipulated by Agamotto who is later defeated as Doctor Voodoo sacrifices himself.
So it could be quite an interesting series if done correctly. There’s a lot of Eastern mysticism and martial arts, so it could be quite different from the other 3 series. In terms of casting, I hope they don’t go for someone like the dumb brother from True Blood just because he’s blonde and has nice abs.