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.
When Chris Claremont and John Byrne brought their 15 issue Iron Fist series to a close (meaning the book was cancelled), there were a number of dangling plot threads. Misty Knight had gone undercover at the request of District Attorney Blake Tower to get close to a criminal known as The Bushmaster, putting her pending relation with Danny Rand up in the air. On top of this, Danny was being stalked by a mysterious figure who successfully stolen a part of his chi power, weakening the Iron Fist. Thankfully, Claremont and Byrne found a way to wrap these threads in the pages of another comic they were working on: Marvel Team Up.
Marvel Team Up was a long running series that starred Spider-Man teaming with a different superhero each month. Issue’s 63 and 64 would be Iron Fist centric as Peter Parker would be sent to the home of Danny Rand to do a photo shoot with the man for an upcoming piece in the Daily Bugle. As soon as Peter arrives, Danny received a note from the mysterious man who had been stalking him to meet in combat later that evening. The note would be signed “Steel Serpent” and based on is recent encounters, Danny would believe it to be his former master from K’un Lun, Lei Kung, The Thunderer. Danny would excuse himself and be on his way to the meeting place. But Spidey’s hard to get rid of and he would follow Iron Fist….albeit not very well and would need a cabby to point him the right direction.
When Iron Fist arrives at the park in which he is to meet the Steel Serpent, he’s immediately thrust into combat with the man. He quickly finds out that his suspicions were wrong and his fight is with a man he does not know named Davos (a.k.a. The Steel Serpent). His fighting style matches that of Lei Kung because he is the son of The Thunderer. As the fight progresses, Spidey shows up and gets in the way, causing Danny to be distracted. This makes him easy pickings for the Steel Serpent, who ends up stealing more of his chi.
Danny is near dead and would likely be killed were it not for the intervention of Misty Knight, who found out about the Steel Serpent’s plans while undercover as Bushmaster’s girl. The Serpent would retreat, vowing to finish the job shortly. Misty and Spider-Man would get Danny to Colleen Wing’s place and the three would attempt to put together a plan to capture the Steel Serpent so they can force the chi power he stole back into Danny. Spidey would once again get in the way and mess up Colleen and Misty’s plan and it would look like all hope would be lost. Spider-Man is actually a pretty big tool in this two issue arc. The series should’ve been renamed Marvel Fuck Up for this story, for crissakes.
Danny would end regaining enough strength to face off with the Serpent again….but not after we got to hear a full origin story from the villain. Davos was once a citizen of K’un Lun and attempted to steal the right to face Shou Lao the Undying from Danny’s dad, Wendell Rand. His plans were thwarted as he could not best the dragon and he was banished from the mystical city as punishment for attempting to “jump the line.” Danny would somehow find it in himself to gain back the chi stolen from the Serpent and win the day. He would also finally get together with Misty Knight bringing the Iron Fist story to a happy ending….but it would not be the end as Claremont and Byrne would also be responsible for putting together one of Marvel greatest dynamic duos: The Heroes for Hire!
If you read my Countdown to Marvel’s Luke Cage series last fall, you know that I went into great detail regarding the team of Power Man and Iron Fist, which you go back and check out HERE. All caught up? That’s great. While the series would go all the way to issue #125, it would never be a top seller. In fact, it would sit on the verge of cancellation for most of its run. When the time came to end the series, James Owsley and Mark Bright would come up with a very final ending by having Iron Fist get killed. However, their method in offing the living weapon left much to be desired.
After revealing that Danny had contracted cancer and a confusing kidnapping story involving Master Khan, Iron Fist would end up dying at the hands of a young vigilante named Captain Hero who would have no control of his powers and would be too forceful when attempting to wake Danny up. Cage would initially be blamed for the Rand’s murder but eventually would be cleared. It was a unfortunate end for such a dynamic hero.
What better way to follow up a lame death than with a lame resurrection, right? John Byrne would do just that in the pages of Namor where it would be revealed that the other Iron Fist was a doppelganger and that the real Danny was in stasis in K’un Lun, curing himself of his cancer using his chi powers.
This return to the land of the living would be followed by a plague that hit most comic characters in the mid-nineties: mediocre storytelling. Iron Fist would appear in a few failed attempts at Heroes for Hire revivals and solo stories before finally getting a return to greatness in the mid-2000s with a little help from one Ed Brubaker. Find out more about that next week as our Countdown to Marvel’s Iron Fist continues.
Marvel’s Iron Fist debuts on Netflix on March 17th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!