Daniel Rand is the rich multi-millionaire head of the Rand Corporation. He is also the Immortal Iron Fist, the latest in a long line of warriors who wielded the power, a master of Kung Fu, and defender of the ancient city of K'un L'un. He channels the soul of the dragon Shou-Lao making his fists into powerful weapons. He is among the best, if not the best fighter in the Marvel Universe. He has also been a member of The Defenders and the New Avengers.
Originally created to cash in on the popularity of Kung Fu films. Iron Fist first appeared in "Marvel Premiere" #15 (May, 1974), created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. He appeared as the lead in this magazine until issue #25 (October, 1975). Then was granted his first eponymous series "Iron Fist", which lasted for 15 issues (November, 1975-September, 1977). Roy Thomas had two inspirations, the Hong Kong classic martial arts movie King Boxer aka Five Fingers of Death (1972), which featured an "Iron Fist ceremony" and the chi enrergy and a Golden Age comic book character called Amazing-Man, created by Bill Everett, creator of Sub-Mariner.
Sales started to flag in the late 70s, until someone had the great idea to team him up with another low-selling series, Luke Cage: Power Man, as part of Luke's Heroes for Hire agency. The amalgamated series' popularity far outstripped both its predecessors. It was written by Chris Claremont, Mary Jo Duffy, Kurt Busiek and Christopher Priest, who notoriously finished his run by killing Danny. Needless to say, he didn't stay dead — in fact it was Priest who brought him back. Since then he's had an important role during the Marvel Civil War, and even joined the New Avengers. Despite this, he's never really risen beyond B-list status.
The character got a new lease on life with the launch of The Immortal Iron Fist, co-written by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker (and after their departure, Duane Swierczynski). The series reveals that there have been many Iron Fists before Daniel, and introduces a 'new' Golden Age Iron Fist, Orson Randall. In addition, there are more Immortal Weapons who represent the other mystical cities of the far east and also wield strange and unusual powers. Daniel discovers new secrets about his past, and must use these to confront former and new enemies.
Due to the success of the Immortal Iron Fist series, Iron Fist and his supporting characters have had a surge of popularity, earning cameos and roles in other Marvel comics, video games, and cartoons. He also had his own Netflix TV series, Iron Fist (2017), which was fairly faithful to the core concepts of the comics but received mixed reviews, and showed up in the linked The Defenders (2017), which made further use of the Iron Fist mythology.
Iron Fist has appeared in the following works:
- Iron Fist (1975 - 1977)
- Iron Fist (1996)
- Iron Fist (1998)
- Iron Fist (2004)
- Immortal Iron Fist (2006 - 2009)
- Iron Fist (2017 - 2018)
- Iron Fist - Marvel Digital Original (2018)
- Iron Fist/Wolverine (2000)
- Iron Fist: Heart Of The Dragon (2021 - Present)
- Iron Fist: The Living Weapon (2014 - 2015)
- Marvel: Contest of Champions
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance
- Marvel Puzzle Quest
Comics featuring Luke Cage provide examples of:
- Awesome, but Impractical: The Iron Fist ability, at least initially. It was too powerful to use on a standard mook as it'd kill him, and left Danny weakened by draining his chi. He's gotten better so that it doesn't drain him like it used to.
- Brains and Brawn: When he works with Luke Cage, he's the brains to Cage's brawn. Ironic given how clueless Danny can be when it comes to almost anything other than martial arts.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: During the "Return of the Dragon" storyline, Danny was corrupted and forced to fight the Black Panther. He nearly killed him, but was beaten when the Panther used a radio earpiece to undo the brainwashing.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Yes, he can use the chi of the dragon Shou-Lao, but his martial arts skills are all his own, learned by studying in K'un-Lun most of his life.
- Chest Insignia: Danny has a tattoo burned into his chest from facing the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying, as do most other Iron Fists (though some have the symbol printed elsewhere instead).
- Conveniently an Orphan: Iron Fist loses both of his parents at the age of nine, while on his way to K'un-Lun.
- Costume Copy Cat: During Civil War, Iron Fist pretended to be Daredevil while Matt Murdock was in prison.
- Crimefighting with Cash: Zigzagged. Danny's millions have nothing to do with his skills, but on occasion (especially during Civil War and its aftermath), his main contribution to a team is financial.
- He also paid for the Avengers Mansion so the New Avengers can base themselves there — note, it cost only one dollar, but still.
- After his return from K'un L'un, his recruitment pitch to Luke Cage was to find out how many street-level problems could be solved by throwing bundles of cash at them.
- Deadpan Snarker: While he has his spiritual side and does like to maintain "oneness", he wouldn't be a Marvel superhero if he didn't have an occasional smartass remark leave his lips.
- Enhanced Punch: Iron Fist's sole superpower (at first) is to charge his fist with chi to make it "like unto a thing of iron." While he eventually gets more powers to go along with his Charles Atlas Superpower, he's generally just a skilled martial artist with an occasional super powered punch.
- Evil Costume Switch: In the last year or so of Power Man and Iron Fist, Danny switched to a red costume after his guilt temporarily turned him evil. Though this Danny was later Retconned into being a doppelganger, the evil red costume made a return during a Black Panther storyline where Iron Fist was Brainwashed by Chiantang and forced to fight the titular hero.
- Fights Like a Normal: Especially early on, when using the Iron Fist tired him out much quicker.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: The original Power Man and Iron Fist series ended with Danny being beaten to death by Captain Hero, and Luke going on the run after being framed for the murder. This was resolved years later in a Namor story arc, where it was established that the whole thing was an elaborate ruse concocted by Master Khan.
- The Greatest Style: He trained in the mystical K'unlunquan martial arts, which enables Ki Manipulation and other superhuman abilities. He is also a master of many other martial art styles.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: His relationship with Luke Cage.
- Ki Manipulation: The titular "Iron Fist" and countless more.
- The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort: Played With. He used to summon his Iron Fist in a very conservative manner due to the stress it caused. That limit has since been removed, however, because it made him rather useless after he began teaming up with stronger superheroes.
- Legacy Immortality: This is why Iron Fist is immortal; it is the position that will never die, not its occupant. This also applies to the other Immortal Weapons, hence their collective name.
- Made of Iron: Danny, as you'd expect from someone with the name Iron Fist. One issue of the 2017 Defenders series has his neck snapped by Diamondback. Properly snapped and everything, without a fake-out. And then the next issue has Danny get right up again and beat the ever-lasting crud out of Diamondback.
- Mighty Whitey: Largely played down in the more recent series (with the advent of the other Immortal Weapons and previous Iron Fists, all of whom are Asian), though introducing one of the previous Iron Fists, only to declare him another white guy who out-mastered the masters of K'un-Lun did raise a few eyebrows. This reaches a boiling point as it's hardly deconstructed in other stories where many villainous or rogue factions of K'un-Lun hate the fact their treasured chi and sacred city protector status as the Iron Fist belongs to some irresponsible white outworlder and how his tendency to leave K'un-Lun unprotected to go and play a superhero in America often causes catastrophe to the ancient city, which Danny himself admits is a valid complaint.
- Mystical High Collar: Wore one until recently.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: In Bendis' run of New Avengers, Iron Man and the Mighty Avengers confront Danny about his activities with the New Avengers as Iron Fist, which are illegal due to the Super Registration Act. Danny's lawyer, Jeryn Hogarth, points out to Iron Man that Danny is already a registered hero, having registered his fists as lethal weapons. He also points out that, even though everyone seems to know Danny is Iron Fist, no one can technically prove it, except through very unconstitutional means that Tony doesn't want anyone to know about. Jeryn is a pretty pudgy, normal guy, basically telling off some of the most powerful heroes on Earth, and manages to piss off Ms. Marvel.
- Power Glows: The power of the Iron Fist causes much glowing.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: One of Danny's early enemies was Sabretooth. As in "Wolverine's arch-nemesis, Sabretooth".
- Salt and Pepper: He's the salt to Luke's pepper.
- The Shangri-La: K'un-Lun.
- Shotgun Wedding: Very narrowly averted — Misty Knight goes to tell Danny she's pregnant, but he proposes marriage to her before she can tell him. She then checks to make sure he hadn't already worked it out.
- Single-Power Superheroes: At least initially, his only power was "punch stuff." Since obtaining the Book of the Iron Fist, he's learned a Jedi Mind Trick, and it turns out that Iron Fists can empower any projectiles.
- Straw Misogynist: During the Fraction/Brubacker run, an easy way to tell when a character is bad is how misogynist they were. Notable examples being Davos and Nu-An, who are both very vocal in their disdain for women, and act extremely abusively towards women they hold power over. This also seems to be somewhat common with the previous Yu-Ti, as it's said there's only been one previous female Iron Fist, and women are specifically banned from training in any martial arts, until the Army of Thunder's revolution.
- Training from Hell: How Danny was trained. Seems to be Lei Kung the Thunderer's standard MO.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Danny often does wear a shirt, but a lot of the time it either gets destroyed, is discarded, or has a plunging neckline that expose his chest, tattoo, and abs.
- Warrior Prince: A fact that does not come up much, but Danny is a member of the K'un-L'un Royal Family (due to his father being adopted into the family, even being made the heir to the throne at one point). Danny was even offered the position of Yu-Ti at one point due to this (though he refused).