Iron Fist is the next Marvel Comics superhero in line for a live-action interpretation on Netflix. Following in the footsteps of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones and Mike Colter’s Luke Cage, Game Of Thrones star Finn Jones will bring this costumed crime fighter to life on the immensely popular streaming service.
Eventually, the whole gang will team up for a huge crossover series dubbed The Defenders, but before that we’ll get to see Mr Jones as Iron Fist in his own solo series. Former Dexter showrunner Scott Buck is pulling the strings behind the scenes on this solo show, and Marvel’s TV chief Jeph Loeb has said that Buck’s take “quite simply knocked us off our feet”. We’re rather excited to see if it’ll have the same affect on the viewers at home.
But who the heck is Iron Fist anyway? Outside the world of hardened comic book readers, you couldn’t really argue that he’s a household name. We had a trawl through comic book history to find out everything we could about the character.
Here’s the resultant Iron Fist cheat sheet, just in case you want to scrub up on the bloke before he reaches Netflix…
Iron Fist’s real name is Danny Rand. He first appeared in the pages of Marvel Comics in May 1974, having been created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. His debut came in the Marvel Premiere series, which was essentially Marvel’s sounding board for new and revamped ideas at the time. Doctor Strange, Adam Warlock and Scott Lang’s Ant-Man also got a leg-up from Marvel Premiere, although – unlike Mr Fist – they’d all appeared elsewhere beforehand.
The Iron Fist story starts with Danny’s father Wendell Rand, years before Danny was born. Wendell discovered a mystical city called K’un Lun in his youth, and was adopted by the ruler of the land; a chap named Lord Tuan. Wendell ultimately left to make his fortune in New York City. He became a wealthy entrepreneur, got married, and fathered Danny. But, of course, he never forgot about the strange city he’d found as a young boy
With the help of his business partner Harold Meachum, and with his wife and nine-year-old child in tow, Wendell eventually led an expedition to try and rediscover K’un Lun. Tragedy struck on a mountain trekking leg of the mission: both of Danny’s parents were killed, and Mr Meachum was to blame.
Danny runs into K’un Lun’s new leader, Yu-Ti, and explains his thirst for revenge. He winds up being taken in and learns some kick-ass martial arts skills under the tutelage of a chap named Lei Kung, The Thunderer. Danny proves that he has a knack for this, and even hardens his fists by punching an awful lot of gravel (as well as pummelling other assorted tough substances).
After ten years of training, at the age of 19, Danny is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to fight a giant dragon called Shou-Lao the Undying. The prize if he manages to win is ‘the power of the Iron Fist’, which promises enhanced strength and complete chi focus, as well as offering snazzy new healing abilities and the power to telepathically fuse minds with other people.
And, best of all, if he kills the dragon and plunges his fists into its heart, Danny will be able to concentrate all his power into a whopping ‘Iron Fist’ punch; a wallop so powerful that even Bruce Lee would be envious. Of course, Danny kills the dragon. Thusly, he becomes the latest in a long line of Iron Fists; the super-powered Kung Fu heroes of K’un Lun.
Enemies and Allies
Not long after becoming Iron Fist, Danny Rand returns to New York with one goal: to get revenge on Harold Meachum, the man who got his parents killed all those years ago. We’ll definitely be seeing Harold Meachum on Netflix, as 300 actor David Wenham has been cast in the role. Wenham’s take on the character has been described as “a ruthless corporate leader who was partners with Danny Rand’s parents at the time of their deaths.”
In the comics, when Danny tracked down and confronted Meachum, he found that he had been paralysed in an accident since they last crossed paths. Danny had become a Kung-Fu warrior and trained for years to exact revenge, but was shocked to find that the inspirer of his vengeance had become disabled. Taking pity, Danny didn’t kill him. But it’s worth noting that Scott Buck’s Netflix take on the material may not follow these beats identically.
Banshee’s Tom Pelphrey and 90210’s Jessica Stroupe have been cast in the show as Ward and Joy Meachum, the children of Harold, who “have spent their lives building Rand Enterprises to its current standing in the world, only to have all their work put in jeopardy when Danny returns to claim his birth right.”
I’d imagine that this conflict will dominate the Netflix show, with Ward and Joy trying to force Danny out of the company that their parents’ built. Of course, there will be plenty of superhero action as well…
After deciding not to take bloody vengeance on Harold Meachum, the comic book version of Danny Rand opted to use his Iron Fist powers as a superhero instead.
With the help of Colleen Wing (another martial artist, set to be played by Jessica Henwick – also a Game Of Thrones alum) and Misty Knight (a private detective, due to be portrayed by Simone Missick in the upcoming Luke Cage series), Danny began fighting crime. He would team up with this duo frequently, and often with Luke Cage as well. Heroes For Hire was the banner for that particular collaboration.
Early on in his superhero career, Iron Fist fought the likes of Sabretooth (Wolverine’s nemesis, who won’t be in the Iron Fist show for obvious reasons), Master Khan (an evil sorcerer from K’un-Lun) and Steel Serpent (an exile of K’un-Lun and the biological son of Danny’s martial arts mentor, The Thunderer). In his collaborations with Colleen, Misty and Luke, Danny would also bust more ground-level baddies like drug dealers and criminal gangs.
On Netflix, I’d expect a mixture of angry K’un-Lun natives and New York crooks to cause trouble for Iron Fist. While Danny is fighting for his parent’s legacy in the business sector, Iron Fist will be pounding the streets and taking out bad guys. Sounds fun, right?
Although it seems likely that Iron Fist’s origin story will dominate season 1 of his Netflix show, this isn’t a given fact by a long stretch. Let’s not forget that Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist all showed up on Netflix with their backstories already done and dusted. Flashbacks and dialogue explained a few origin beats, but each character was already a decent way down the road to heroism when they first appeared on screen.
With this in mind, it’s probably worth looking at other iconic storylines from Iron Fist’s comic book history besides his dragon-fighting/Meachum-hating origin story. There’s plenty to choose from…
Iron Fist’s ‘death’ is a plotline that gets talked about a lot. Like most comic book heroes, he’s died and come back again. Unlike most comic book heroes, he died because a super-villain gave him cancer. Danny had to return to K’un-Lun, enter stasis and focus his chi for some time to cure the disease.
In the meantime, Luke Cage went on the run because people thought Iron Fist’s death was his fault (there was a whole complicated doppelganger situation that caused this). Danny’s ‘death’ and its consequences weave an interesting story, but I can’t see ‘the death of the hero’ being the first arc they go for in this TV series. That would just be weird. It could maybe work at some point after The Defenders, though, once all these characters and their relationships are established.
Another much-talked-about Iron Fist arc is Danny impersonating Daredevil. To help Matt Murdock convince the press that he isn’t The Man Without Fear, Danny wears the red suit for a while. He even joined Team Cap during the superhero Civil War, while still posing as Daredevil. Again, I can’t see these heroes swapping suits in season 1 of Iron Fist’s solo series, but it could be an interesting idea for a later season, once everyone has gotten to know each other.
Another famous storyline is The Immortal Iron Fist, which unfolded in comic book format between 2006 and 2009. Herein, a chap named Orson Randall – a former Iron Fist, who held the title some time ago – seeks out Danny in New York. Orson gives Danny a ledger full of Kung-Fu secrets, which will apparently be helpful when the ‘tournament of the Seven Champions’ comes around. Before Orson can explain further, the Silver Serpent kills him.
Danny is summoned back to K’un-Lun, and told that he most battle champions from six other mystical cities. Like K’un Lun, these places are only linked to Earth at certain times, and the tourney will decide when the next set of links will be made. Danny discovers corruption among the leaders of the cities, and plans a revolution rather than battling in their tournament willy-nilly. Danny fights his way to the top, and ends up battling the first ever Iron Fist, who is now something of a despot.
The Immortal Iron Fist run feels to me like it’s been tailor-made for TV adaptation. There’s intrigue, good versus evil, and plenty of different fights along the way that ramp up to a big finale. Is it a bit too much magic and mysticism for Iron Fist season 1, though? Possibly, but I can definitely see it on Netflix at some point.
How will Iron Fist fit into the wider MCU? Well, of course, we all already know that he’ll cross paths with Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage a little ways down the road for the big crossover series The Defenders. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the likes of Luke Cage, Claire Temple, Foggy Nelson and Misty Knight showing up in the Iron Fist solo series, either.
It’ll be interesting to see if Marvel push for an even bigger crossover. Could they possibly get a cinema-sized superhero in for a cameo? After all, Doctor Strange will be introducing big screen audiences to Marvel’s mystic wing in November 2016, only a few months before Iron Fist treads similar ground on Netflix (the official air-date isn’t announced yet, but a 2017 release looks very likely).
In the comics, Stephen Strange and Danny Rand have crossed paths several times due to their shared interests in mysticism and magic. Resultantly, some folk are already predicting that Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will grace the Iron Fist TV show with a cameo appearance.
A big screen MCU hero has yet to cameo in Marvel’s TV/online projects, but if anyone’s going to do it, wouldn’t you expect it to be Cumberbatch? As he’s still willing to do Sherlock for BBC-sized money, maybe he could be tempted over to Netflix as well.
Of course, only time will tell on the Cumber-cameo front. But still, there’s plenty to be exited about regarding Iron Fist. I’m particularly looking forward to Finn Jones punching a dragon in the heart…