What Marvel Comics Tell Us About 'Iron Fist'

Cara Howe/Netflix

Marvel's Netflix Universe is almost complete thanks to the impending arrival of Iron Fist. The final of Marvel's four Defenders, there is still a lot left to learn about the man behind Iron Fist. Danny Rand's Marvel Comics history is the best place to start if you want to go into the Netflix series with as much information as possible when it premieres on Friday, March 17.

Marvel's other properties have done some tweaking from their comic book origins to make them a little more palatable for TV. The only one who wears a costume outside of the comics is Daredevil, with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage opting for street clothes. It seems that Danny Rand is following suit with a lack of suit, but his comic book history seems to still largely be intact in the Netflix series.

However, that history is already causing some backlash for Iron Fist, since Danny is a white character who learned his skills in a (fictional) Asian city and became one of its most powerful warriors. Many people have criticized this as an example of cultural appropriation and the "white savior" trope that, because white actor Finn Jones was cast, now carries over into the show. In response to these criticisms, Jones told The Daily Beast, "I am the first to stand up for more diversity in television shows, especially when it comes to Asian actors ... But I think people will find that what we’re doing with the show addresses those issues intentionally. We actually talk about those issues and we try to address them, rather than just being the white savior and coming in and going, ‘Oh, Danny’s gonna take care of everything!’”

As for what that history actually entails, Danny Rand's story in Marvel Comics begins when he is 9 years old and goes on an expedition to find the mystical city of K'un-Lun, with his father, a wealthy businessman; his mother; and his father's business partner, Harold Meachum. Eventually, a slip-up leaves Danny's father hanging from a cliff and Harold refuses to pull him up in a whole Scar-from-Lion-King scenario. Through further obstacles, including a pack of wolves, Danny ends up parentless and alone in an unfamiliar land before being led to K'un-Lun, where he begins his martial arts training. That's where Danny spends a full decade training, eventually challenging a giant dragon to a fight, which wins him the power of the Iron Fist.

So, that's all pretty bonkers. Danny's origin is the most out-there of all four Netflix heroes, unless there's a dragon-fighting scene in Daredevil that I'm forgetting about. After training in K'un-Lun, his story becomes a bit more traditional, with Danny returning to New York City to seek out revenge on the man who let his father die, and to start fighting crime.

The other major part of Danny Rand's comic book history is also part of Luke Cage's story. The two Defenders teamed-up together to become Heroes For Hire, where they would take on private investigation and bodyguard gigs together. Iron Fist and Luke Cage proved to be a popular match and appeared together regularly in the comics. However, during this time, Danny also gained control of his parent's company and had to split his time between his business ventures and superheroics.

Marvel Comics

While some of Danny Rand's comic book backstory will likely be left out of the Netflix series, it seems that the adaptation is dedicated to capturing the core of the character — even if that includes controversy. Rand will be fighting between his past and his present and, in a more literal sense, fighting plenty of bad guys. Here's hoping that Jones was right and Iron Fist has a found way to depict this story while addressing the issues inherent in its premise.