Iron Fist (Daniel Rand) is a fictional character, a comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe, and a practitioner of martial arts. Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, he first appeared in Marvel Premiere #15 (May 1974).
Iron Fist joined the cast of Luke Cage series in a three-parter story in Power Man #48–50. The title series changed to Power Man and Iron Fist with #50. Note that there is a discrepancy between the cover logo and the indicia. The cover logo is titled Power Man and Iron Fist, but the indicia did not reflect this change until #67. Iron Fist co-starred the series until final issue (#125 , September 1986).
Two solo miniseries followed a decade later: Iron Fist vol. 2, #1-2 (Sept.-Oct. 1996), by writer James Felder and penciller Robert Brown; and Iron Fist vol. 3, #1-3 (July-Sept. 1998), by writer Dan Jurgens and penciller Jackson Guice. Also around this time, he was among the ensemble of the group series Heroes for Hire which ran 19 issues (July 1997 - Jan. 1999).
Following a four-issue miniseries by writer Jay Faerber and penciller Jamal Igle, Iron Fist: Wolverine (Nov. 2000 - Feb. 2001), co-starring the X-Men character Wolverine and cover-billed as Iron Fist/Wolverine: The Return of K'un Lun, came another solo miniseries, Iron Fist vol. 4, #1-6 (May-Oct. 2004), by writer Jim Mullaney and penciller Kevin Lau. The first issue of a new ongoing series, The Immortal Iron Fist, by co-writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction and primary artist David Aja, premiered with a January 2007 cover-date.
Writer co-creator Roy Thomas wrote in a text piece in Marvel Premiere #15 that Iron Fist's origin and creation owe much to the 1940s Bill Everett character, Amazing Man. Thomas later wrote that he and artist co-creator Gil Kane had
...started 'Iron Fist" because I'd seen my first kung fu movie, even before a Bruce Lee one came out, and it had a thing called 'the ceremony of the Iron Fist' in it. I thought that was a good name, and we already had Master of Kung Fu going, but I thought, 'Maybe a superhero called Iron Fist, even though we had Iron Man, would be a good idea'. [Publisher] Stan [Lee] liked the name, so I got hold of Gil and he brought in his Amazing Man influences, and we designed the character together....
Iron Fist appearances outside his own title include three Iron Fist stories in Marvel's black-and-white comics magazine Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #10 (March 1975), an additional story co-starring the Sons of the Tiger in #18 (Nov. 1975), and a six-part serial, "The Living Weapon", in #19-24 (Dec. 1975 - May 1976). He made guest appearances in such titles as Marvel Two-In-One, Marvel Team-Up, the Sub-Mariner series Namor, Black Panther, and Daredevil.
Daniel Rand was born in New York City, the son of American businessman Wendell Rand, a wealthy entrepreneur who discovered the mystical city of K'un-L'un as a young boy. During his time in K'un L'un, Wendell saved the life of the city's ruler, Lord Tuan, and was adopted as Tuan's son. However, Wendell eventually left K'un L'un and became a wealthy entrepreneur in the United States. He married socialite Heather Duncan and had a child, Daniel. When Daniel was nine, Wendell organized an expedition to again seek out K'un L'un, taking his wife Heather, his business partner Harold Meachum, and Daniel. During the journey up the mountain, Daniel slipped off the path, his tie-rope taking his mother and father with him. Meachum, who also loved Heather, forced Wendell to plunge to his death but offered to rescue Heather and Daniel. She rejected his help, preferring to journey without him or die.
As explained in Marvel Premiere #15, Heather and Daniel come across a makeshift bridge that appears out of nowhere and are attacked by a pack of wolves. Heather throws herself on the wolves to save Daniel and is killed even as archers from K'un L'un attempt to save her. The archers take the grieving Daniel to see Yü-Ti, the hooded ruler of K'un L'un. When Daniel expresses his desire for vengeance, Yü-Ti apprentices him to Lei Kung, the Thunderer, who teaches him the martial arts.
Daniel proves to be the most gifted of Lei Kung's students. Rand conditions his fists by plunging them into buckets of sand, gravel and rock to toughen them. At 19, Daniel is given the chance to attain the power of the Iron Fist by fighting and defeating the dragon known as Shou-Lao the Undying, which guarded the molten heart that had been torn from its body. During the battle, Daniel throws himself against the scar of Shou-Lao, which burns a dragon tattoo into his chest. Having killed Shou-Lao, he enters its cave and plunges his fists into a brazier containing the creature's molten heart, emerging with the power of the Iron Fist.
When K'un L'un reappears on Earth after 10 years, Daniel decides to leave and find his father's killer. Returning to New York, Daniel Rand, dressed in the ceremonial garb of the Iron Fist, seeks out Harold Meachum, now head of Meachum Industries. After overcoming a number of attempts on his life, he confronts Meachum in his office, only to find the man legless — an amputation carried out when, after abandonning Daniel and his mother, he was caught in heavy snow and his legs became heavily frosted.
Impressed by Iron Fist's abilities, Meachum admits that he deserves death, but, overcome with pity for this pathetic shell of a man, Iron Fist walks away. At that moment Meachum is murdered by a mysterious ninja and his daughter Joy blames Iron Fist for the death. Eventually, Iron Fist clears his name and begins a career as a superhero, aided by his friends Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, falling in love with the latter. Notable adversaries in his early career include the first appearance of the villain Sabretooth (who was not yet known to be connected to Wolverine), the mysterious Master Khan (whom the ninja that killed Meachum once served) and the Steel Serpent, the exiled son of Lei Kung, who coveted the Iron Fist power.
Just before Rand's battle with Steel Serpent, Misty Knight had been working undercover, infiltrating the organization of the crime lord John Bushmaster. When Bushmaster discovered Knight's treachery, he kidnapped Claire Temple and Noah Burstein, the closest associates of Luke Cage, better known as Power Man, holding them hostage to force Cage to eliminate Knight. Iron Fist was on hand to stop him, however, and after a battle, the truth came out. Rand then helped Cage and the Daughters of the Dragon (Knight and Wing) battle Bushmaster, and rescue Temple and Burstein as well as obtain evidence that proved Cage's innocence on prior drug charges. Iron Fist and Power Man decided to become partners, forming Heroes for Hire, Inc.
Although Iron Fist and Power Man supposedly were only heroes for money, they were always doing the right thing, which usually left them with less money rather than more. Iron Fist, in his secret identity of Daniel Rand, had reassumed control of his parents' fortune as half of Rand-Meachum, Inc., and was actually quite wealthy. This caused a lot of tension between him and Cage, who was raised poor in the ghetto.
At one point, the pair traveled to K'un-L'un together, where they battled Master Khan.
Power Man and Iron Fist's partnership ended with Rand contracting cancer from radiation poisoning and inadvertently dying at the hands of Captain Hero, and Cage becoming a fugitive as the prime suspect in Rand's death.
In the 1990s, the storyline of Rand's death is resolved in the pages of Namor. Although Rand apparently returns from the dead, it is revealed instead to be the Super-Skrull. He admits that he had been Captain Hero, and that the plot to destroy the lives of Rand and Cage had been masterminded by Master Khan. It is also revealed that the "Iron Fist" that had died was actually a doppelgänger created by the extra-dimensional H'ylthri. Rand had, in fact, been kidnapped and replaced by the H'ylthri copy just after he left K'un L'un for the last time. While in stasis with the H'ylthri, Rand manages to focus his chi, curing the cancer. Iron Fist is later discovered alive in K'un-L'un. With Namor and Misty Knight, he battles Master Khan once more.
After Marvel's Onslaught crossover event, Rand and Cage reform Heroes for Hire, Inc. with an expanded team, this time working for Namor's Oracle Corporation. Chronicled in a new Heroes For Hire series, the title is eventually cancelled due to low sales, ending with Namor dissolving Oracle as well as Heroes for Hire, Inc.
Iron Fist at one point also lost his powers to Junzo Muto the young leader of the Hand but subsequently regained them .
In the Iron Fist miniseries, Miranda Rand-K'ai also returns from the dead. The H'ylthri revive her and promise to restore her to full life if she retrieves the extra-dimensional artifact known as the Zodiac Key. To this end, she takes the identity of Death Sting, bringing her into conflict with Iron Fist as well as with S.H.I.E.L.D.. When the H'ylthri try to kill Iron Fist, Miranda turns the power of the Zodiac Key against them, seemingly killing herself in the process. However, exposure to chemicals from the H'ylthri pods prevented her death.
During the "House of M" crossover event, Rand is shown to be a part of Luke Cage's resistance group.
Rand disguises himself as Daredevil to convince the media and the public that Matt Murdock is not the masked vigilante (Daredevil #87). Rand believes that he had been hired to pose as Daredevil by Foggy Nelson. In reality Nelson had faked being murdered and was in witness protection.
During the Civil War, he was opposed to the Super-human Registration Act, joining Captain America while still pretending to be Daredevil. Rand was apprehended by Pro-Registration forces, calling Tony Stark 'Judas' and giving him a silver dollar. He was later freed from the Negative Zone Prison, joining Captain America's team for the final battle with Iron Man's forces.
The story introduces Orson Randall, Daniel Rand's immediate predecessor, who reneged on his responsibilities to K'un L'un after suffering immense psychological trauma during the First World War. Randall is discovered in Thailand; apparently preserved by the spirit of Shou-Lao and in full possession of his powers, but living in drug-soaked seclusion. Randall is pursued by agents of the Steel Serpent, resurrected and pressed into the service of the Crane Mother, ancient enemy of K'un L'un, and the terrorist group HYDRA. Jolted out of his decades-long ennui, Randall seeks out Daniel Rand in New York and gives to him The Book of the Iron Fist, a sacred ledger supposedly containing all the Kung Fu secrets of K'un Lun, which Randall claims will be necessary if Rand is to compete successfully in the coming tournament of the Seven Champions.
The Steel Serpent, whose powers have been greatly augmented by Crane Mother, quickly dispatches Randall in single combat. On the brink of death, Randall surrenders his Chi to Danny, giving him sufficient power to battle the Serpent to a standstill. After the battle, Rand is immediately summoned by his master, Lei Kung (who is also the father of Steel Serpent) to compete in the tournament Randall mentioned. The tournament will decide the cycle according to which each of the Seven Cities of Heaven appears on Earth. If the Iron Fist loses, K'un Lun may lose its place in the cycle according to which it appears on Earth once per decade. However, the leaders of the Seven Cities had secretly erected gateways between Earth and each city without the knowledge of the populace. The corruption of the leaders of the Seven Cities of Heaven has spurred Iron Fist, his master Lei Kung the Thunderer, Orson Randall's daughter, and John Aman to secretly plan a revolution. At the same time, Iron Fist discovers that Crane Mother, and Xao, a high-ranking HYDRA operative, are orchestrating a plot to destroy K'un Lun by using the interdimensional portal developed by Orson Randall's father. Steel Serpent was apparently unaware of the plot to destroy K'un Lun, however. Upon learning of this, he unites with Danny and the other Immortal weapons, although he stresses that he is neither their ally nor their enemy, but merely, "Xao's reckoning."
Danny and John Aman are able to unite with the other Immortal weapons to stop Xao. Danny destroys the train intended to destroy K'un Lun (and, in effect, the other cities of Heaven) by extending his chi to find the train's electro-magnetic field, transforming himself into "a human bullet." Meanwhile, the revolution orchestrated by Lei Kung and Orson's daughter proves successful, with Nu-an, the Yu-Ti of K'un Lun fleeing in terror. As Danny confronts Xao, he reveals that there is an eighth city of Heaven, and rather than be captutred, leaps to his death off of a cliff.
Steel Serpent ultimately repents and seeks to redeem himself to his father and to Danny. Before returning to Earth, with Luke, Misty, Coleen, and the other Immortal weapons accompanying him, Danny suggests Lei Kung as the new Yu-Ti, with Orson's nameless daughter as the new Thunderer.
After the events, and learning that the Randell fortune that started Rand International was formed from the oppression of the Cities of Heaven, Danny decides to transform the company into a non-profit organization, dedicated to helping the poor. He also sets up the Thunder Dojo in Harlem to help inner city children, buys back the old Heroes for Hire building as the new Rand International Headquarters, and his new home, while inviting Luke Cage a position at the company, and a place to stay at the HQ. He also tries to reconnect with Misty Knight. However, while studying the Book of the Iron Fist, he learns a disturbing fact about the previous Iron Fists: Every single one has died at the age of 33, with the exception of Orson Randell, who vanished at that same time. Just then, he sees Misty, Colleen, and Luke arrive, to celebrate Danny's 33rd birthday.
Soon afterward Danny is attacked by a mystical servant of Ch'l-Lin, defeating Danny with hardly any trouble. He claims that he has killed many Iron Fists, and Danny is the weakest. However, Luke, Misty, and Coleen arrive just as the servant prepares to slay Danny. Luke manages to get ahold of the mysterious assassin, but he then suddenly vanishes. Danny searches for answers in the Book of the Iron Fist to try to understand how Orson Randall was able avoid being slain by the Ch'l-Lin's hitman. However, one of Danny's new business associates calls Danny up to alert him of a prowler staking out the Thunder Dojo, whom Danny quickly intuites is the mysterious Ch'l-Lin Assassin.
Other applications of the Iron Fist power include the ability to focus chi energy inward to heal oneself or outward to heal others of injury, as well as being able to telepathically fuse his consciousness temporarily with another person and meld with that person's mind. In Maximum Carnage, Danny was able to use the mental application of the Iron Fist to temporarily calm a rioting mob. When asked about this by Spider-Man, Danny replied that all humans are, in essence, one divine being, in a constant craving for that oneness, and once it is offered, it cannot be refused. When asked by Spider-Man how long it would take to learn this "meditative technique", Danny replied, "Eight or ten years." Orson Randall, Danny's predecessor as Iron Fist, demonstrated applications including hypnosis and channeling his chi energy into projectile weapons to increase their destructive capacity. Randall also showed enhanced resistance to injury, including resilience to poison gas dropped on his fellow combatants in the trenches of World War I, and a greatly slowed aging process. Although almost one hundred years old by the time he encountered Daniel Rand, he demonstrated physical vitality commensurate with a highly-trained martial artist half his age. Danny has presumably acquired powers and abilities at least equivalent to Orson Randall's -- though not necessarily the skill to control them -- thanks to combining Randall's chi energy with his own. He is also in possession of the Book of the Iron Fist, study of which will greatly expand his kung fu skills. Danny displayed what he had learned from Orson Randall regarding alternative applications of the Iron Fist when he was able to extend his chi from his fist into the electro-magnetic field of the train intended to destroy K'un Lun, transforming himself into "a human bullet." Despite the train being loaded down with "enough raw explosives to make Hiroshima look like a sparkler", Danny was able to destroy the train, and survive the massive explosion virtually unharmed.
Even without the Iron Fist, Danny is a master of all of K'un Lun's martial arts and many of Earth's, making him easily one of the most skilled practitioners of unarmed combat in the Marvel Universe.
In a confrontation with Tony Stark, it is revealed that Iron Fist has been registered as a lethal weapon, as is supposedly required of advanced martial artists in the United States. His lawyer is present during the confrontation and argues the loophole that he is already registered with the government, and that his abilities are skill based and not power based, meaning that he does not technically qualify as a super-hero and it is suggested that he has broken no laws. (Note: The idea of a skilled martial artist, black belt, or hand-to-hand combat expert such as a boxer being required to register his/her hands as lethal weapons is something of an urban legend in real life.)