You might think you’ve seen the story of the billionaire kid-turned billionaire orphan-turned billionaire crime-fighter, but with Iron Fist, it’s not really that simple. Instead, think of Danny Rand's Marvel Comics Backstory in Iron Fist as more of a Batman meets Tarzan kind of thing. Because yes, Danny is the son of a wealthy billionaire couple who have corporations in Gotham — I mean, New York City — but he’s also the descendant of a long line of ancient Iron Fists, which helped in giving him the power you see in the new Netflix series. But unlike Batman, who is also a mega-rich orphan superhero, Danny doesn’t use special gadgets and a guarded, raspy voice to hide his identity. In fact, one of the refreshing things about Danny from Iron Fist is that his power apparently comes naturally to him.
The Marvel backstory for Iron Fist is that as a child, Danny went on a trip with his parents to find the mystical city of K'un L'un, which only shows itself once per decade. After a horrific plane crash, Danny's father falls to his death thanks in part to his business partner Harold Meachum and later, Danny’s mother sacrifices herself to wolves to save her son. Soon after that, Danny finds the city of K'un L'un and is taken in and taught martial arts by Lei Kung so that he can eventually avenge his parents’ deaths. You know, the whole vigilante caped crusader deal, but one that packs an extra powerful punch. (Get it?)
In the comics, Danny trains under Lei Kung and eventually gets the chance to fight the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying and gain the power of the Iron Fist. After he kills the dragon, Danny finds the molten heart of the dragon and submerges his fists (ouch), and so, Iron Fist is born.
But instead of having super strength or a bunch of futuristic gadgets on a tool belt, Danny can apparently use his energy to focus his chi and channel the power into his hand, creating that Iron Fist he’s known for. He’s a mystical, martial arts master and when the opportunity to avenge his parents’ tragic deaths (both basically being the fault of his dad’s business partner Harold) fails, Danny stays in New York to become a bona fide superhero. Though, this could end up playing out differently in the onscreen iteration.
In the new Netflix series, premiering its first season on Netflix beginning Friday March 17, Danny Rand doesn’t even look like superhero until he busts out those cool combat moves. Thats right — no elaborate costume and mask for Iron Fist, which is strangely refreshing.
Although Danny Rand’s Marvel backstory is similar to some other origin stories of Marvel and DC heroes, I think it’s also pretty obvious that Iron Fist has his own thing going on, which makes him a unique entity to the franchise.