On March 17th, a new world is coming to the Netflix corner of the Marvel Universe: The magical city of K’un Lun. Yes, the middle of March will see the release of all 13 episode of The House of Ideas’ newest Netflix offering, Marvel’s Iron Fist. This is the “Final Defender” we’ve been waiting for. The wait’s almost over but we still have a few weeks to prepare. “Prepare for what?”, you might ask. Out of every hero we’ve seen come to the streaming service thus far, Danny Rand (a.k.a. Iron Fist) is probably the most convoluted when it comes to back story. So consider this your crash course on the martial arts master from a magical city that only appears once every ten years. From his revenge filled origins to his current status in the Marvel Universe, all will be covered. We probably won’t dwell on his “resurrection” in the pages of Namor, but we’ll fill you in on all the good stuff. Come along for the ride to find out more about the man named Danny Rand who can make his fist like that of iron.
Iron Fist first appeared in Marvel Premiere #15, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Gil Kane, in a story that combined classic comic story telling with the inspiration of martial arts films of the time. If you asked the average Marvel comics fan about the origin story for Danny Rand, they’d probably sum it up like this: Dude punches a Dragon to get powers so he take revenge on the guy who killed his father. That statement is only half right and it’s missing some pertinent information. When Danny Rand was ten years old, his father, Wendell, decides to take the family on an adventure in the K’un Lun mountains in Asia. He also brings his business partner, Harold Meachum, who insists on coming to make sure Wendell’s family is safe. But nothing is as it seems.
Wendell is searching for the lost city of K’un Lun, a place that is only visible on Earth once ever ten years. He has former ties to the place that are not fully explained. His hope is to take his wife and child to see this place and take in the wonders for themselves. Harold, who does not believe in the existence of K’un Lun, has truly come along to take Wendell out of the picture, so that his company (and his wife) will be fair game. A chance slip on a icy cliff makes Meachum’s plans a reality.
After letting Wendell fall to his death, Meachum then professes his love to Heather, Danny’s mom, and says that he can take care of them and start a new life. This, of course does not sit well with Heather, who tells him that she’d rather have both her and her boy die on this mountain. Not being one to truly commit to his plans (he had a mountain do most of the dirty work in offing Danny’s dad, after all), Harold leaves Heather and Danny to die and go on his merry way. So mother and child are doomed to climb the mountain in search of a place that they have no proof actually exists. After a long period where they’re almost frozen to death, they finally come across the fabled city…..only to be attacked by wolves.
Danny does make it to the magical city of K’un Lun, but not before seeing his mother get savagely ripped a part before his eyes. When he is found by the men of K’un Lun, they take him to Yu-Ti, the August Personage of Jade, who is ruler of the city. When he asks this ten year old boy what it is he wants, his answer is simple: REVENGE.
Over the next ten years, Danny trains to become a living weapon. Under the tutelage of Lei-Kung the Thunderer (the martial arts trainer for all men of K’un Lun), Danny becomes a master of fighting and is chosen for a special honor: a chance to face Shou-Lao the Undying in combat to attain the power of the Iron Fist. For those of you that don’t know, Shou-Lao is an immortal dragon that lives in a cave not too far from K’un Lun. Every few years, some yahoo from the city attempts to beat the dragon to claim the power and most are unsuccessful. It’s a freakin’ dragon for crissakes. Of course most are unsuccessful! But Danny is chosen and takes the opportunity to claim the power as he sees it helping him in his quest to kill Harold Meachum.
Now here’s where the “half right” part comes in. Danny goes to face Shou-Lao but he doesn’t get his powers by punching him. No, instead he has to bear hug the dragon over a hole in his body (in the shape of the cool marking that’s now on Danny’s chest) that spits out fire. After bear hugging the beast into submission, he then has to place his fist into a boiling cauldron that’s also in the cave, against the dragon’s heart. It’s never really explained why Shou-Lao’s heart is outside of his body, but whatever. Danny doesn’t question it so why should we, right?
So Danny claims the power of the Iron Fist and now, at the age of 20, leaves this city of immortals to return to New York city to reclaim his family’s fortune and kill the man responsible for his father’s death. When he gets to Rand Tower, now renamed Meachum Tower, there are a number death traps waiting for him. There are knives and machine guns jutting out of the walls. All the staff there are trained killers in disguise. Danny has to run a gauntlet of crazed mercenaries and deadly snares to get to his target. When he finally enters what he thinks is Meachum’s office, he must face a giant cyborg samurai with electric nunchucks. All these obstacles take their toll but Danny is still able to make it to the end and come face to face with Meachum. He ends up finding a man who’s already beaten.
Turns out Meachum lost his legs on that mountain due to almost freezing to death. He was saved by some villagers there who had knowledge of K’un Lun and Danny’s rescue. Meachum knew that if Danny was alive, he would come looking for revenge, so he spent the past ten years preparing for his return. When Danny sees the shell of a man that Meachum has become, he takes pity on him and decides not to kill him. As he walks away, Meachum cries out, begging him to take his revenge. He even tries to shoot Danny in the back. But before he does, a ninja pops out of nowhere, stabs Harold with a sword, and then disappears. This leaves Iron Fist holding the bag.
Danny’s name would eventually be cleared of Meachum’s death and the origin of the ninja would be revealed (turns out he was an enemy of K’un Lun who’d been trapped in a sacred tome called “The Book of Many Things” for centuries and tried to kill Iron Fist in an attempt for, you guessed it, revenge). This leads to a number of crazy adventures that are almost forgettable. It wouldn’t be too long though until Iron Fist would take a step up in quality with the arrival of writer Chris Claremont to the series…..which we will cover next week in our Countdown to Marvel’s Iron Fist. Join us here next week for that.
Marvel’s Iron Fist debuts on Netflix on March 17th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!