The last slot on the Defenders’ roster has been filled, with Game of Thrones‘ Finn Jones officially cast as the lead in Netflix’s Iron Fist TV series. Unlike Daredevil, though, this will be the first live-action appearance of the hero who can make his hands smolder and glow, until they become like unto iron. If you’ve never heard of him before, fret not. The show’s debut is still at least a year away. That’s oodles of time to learn enough to impress your friends with some factoids during that eventual weekend-long streaming marathon. Just refer to this quick primer.
Iron Fist was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane for a 1974 issue of Marvel Premiere during the kung fu movie craze that saw flicks like Five Fingers of Death crossover big in America. His secret identity is that of Danny Rand, the orphaned son of wealthy New Yorkers who perished during an expedition to find K’un L’un, a mythical Shambalah-like sanctuary. Young Danny’s adopted by Lei Kung, a master martial martial artist dwelling in the secret city, and he soon becomes Kung’s greatest apprentice.
K’un L’un only appears on Earth once every ten years, and when it re-materializes, an adult Danny emerges. Having gained the power of the Iron Fist after defeating a dragon (and getting a sick dragon-shaped scar to go with it), he can concentrate his willpower into his punches, imbuing them with superhuman strength. So, the alias is pretty straightforward. Danny adopts colorful ceremonial attire and returns to New York in search of his father’s murderer. Once he’s there, though, he winds up battling a bunch of other super-villains, including Wolverine’s eventual foe, Sabretooth, and Lei Kung’s estranged son, the Steel Serpent.
Iron Fist’s most famous adventures, in fact, occur once he starts working with Power Man (otherwise known as Luke Cage). The duo’s team-up title ran for years, and during that time, they frequently allied with the Daughters of the Dragon, detectives Colleen Wing and the bionically-armed Misty Knight. Danny and Misty have been romantically entwined over the years, actually, being one of the first interracial couples in super hero comics.
Recent volumes, such as the Immortal Iron Fist, have greatly expanded upon the lore and lineage of Danny’s mantle. His direct predecessor as Iron Fist is the World War I combatant, Orson Randall, who shirked his oath to K’un L’un and went AWOL while suffering from disillusionment and drug dependency. And there were many other Iron Fists before them, with adventures stretching throughout the centuries. One story arc even showed the outer world adventures of Danny’s descendant and successor, Wah Sing-Rand, in the 30th century.
Now that the Defenders’ line-up has been assembled, it’s tough to say how they’ll function. Traditionally, they’ve been a “non-team,” putting together loners like the Silver Surfer, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Dr. Strange who’re even less likely to co-operate than the Avengers. There’s no HQ to return to like Avengers mansion or the Baxter Building, but they always manage to come together whenever common enemies threaten the street level of New York in the Marvel Universe.
In the comics, Iron Fist and Luke Cage have actually spent more time in their own group, Heroes for Hire. Its roster has included the Daughters of the Dragon, as well as familiar oddballs like Ant-Man and Deadpool (for a very, very brief stint). If Cage proves to be a hero-for-hire in his own series, perhaps Danny will link up with him before the Defenders “form” with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. However, as you’ve seen, there’s plenty of solo material for him to get through in his own series first. The background with the prior Iron Fists might be too much for the first season to get into, but it’d be excellent material for a second season!
Are you stoked that Iron Fist‘s TV show is finally happening? What are some signature stories you hope get turned into episodes? Sound off in the talkback.
Photo Credits: Marvel