We may have to wait a while thanks to the impending arrival of Season 1 of Luke Cage and Season 2 of Jessica Jones, but the fourth element of Marvel and Netflix's Defenders plan, Iron Fist, is finally feeling real. After rumors of production troubles and delays, the show cast its title role this week with Game of Thrones star Finn Jones, so a production start date is probably not very far behind.
Iron Fist, like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage before it, is further proof that the Marvel Cinematic Universe can take bigger and bigger risks with its stories. He's never been an A-list hero, he has a very convoluted mythology surrounding him, and tonally he could wind up very different from the other Netflix heroes with whom he'll eventually be teaming up. Iron Fist is one of Marvel's most fascinating supporting heroes, and he's got a rich comic-book history to prove it.
Because he's not exactly a Tony Stark or a Steve Rogers, though, you might not know too much about Danny Rand. You might be looking for a place to start with his character, or even just a place to refresh your memory. So, to celebrate the coming of Iron Fist, here are 10 of the best stories from throughout Danny Rand's comic-book life.
Immortal Iron Fist #8-14 - "The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven"
If you really want to get right down to what's fun about Iron Fist, from the mythology to the kung-fu to the character of Danny Rand, look no further than the second arc in the wonderful run by writers Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker and artist David Aja. In this story, the rest of the mystical cities send representative warriors, all with amazing powers, to K'un L'un to fight in a massive martial arts tournament. It's basically Enter the Dragon with superpowers. You will fall in love with not only Iron Fist, but characters like Fat Cobra and Prince of Orphans, too.
Marvel Premiere #15-16
Marvel legends Roy Thomas and Gil Kane introduce Iron Fist for the first time, and begin to lay out the tragic backstory that will eventually make Danny Rand into a superhero. Certain things about this story have been retconned at this point, but if you're into starting at the very beginning, this is it.
Iron Fist/Wolverine: The Return of K'un L'un
Legend has it that K'un L'un can only appear on Earth once every decade, so Iron Fist doesn't exactly have a constant relationship with it. That sets the stage for several stories about him returning to the source of his power, though, and this is one of the most fun. It features Iron First losing his powers, the Hand clan, and a team-up with Wolverine. What more could you want?
Power Man and Iron Fist #74-75
Thanks to a scheme orchestrated by his nemesis Master Khan, Iron First, with Luke Cage in tow, dives into a magical portal that finally returns him to K'un L'un years after he left it. There are a lot of fantastic Power Man and Iron Fist stories, but this is one of the most enduring.
Iron Fist #1-7
Though they're best known for their work together on Uncanny X-Men, writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne also did a lot of work to shape Danny Rand in his early years. In the first arc of his first ongoing series, Danny is on the hunt for his friend Colleen Wing, and in looking for her, he encounters and teams up with Misty Knight for the first time. Plus, the inaugural issue features a battle between Iron Fist and Iron Man.
Immortal Iron Fist #1-6 - "The Last Iron Fist Story"
Yes, we're returning to the run of Brubaker, Fraction, and Aja, but it really is definitive Iron Fist stuff. To kick off the series, the creative team introduced Orson Randall, the man who was Iron Fist before Danny Rand. Randall's personal traumas led him to give up the Iron Fist mantle years ago, but he senses something is coming, and realizes he needs to tell Danny of his legacy as the possessor of this heroic power. It's a fantastic new layer in the Iron Fist mythos.
Power Man and Iron Fist #50
This one is a piece of history. Though they'd previously met, this is the first major Danny Rand/Luke Cage team-up, and the first issue of the series to bear the names of both heroes in the title. We don't yet know when the Heroes for Hire will come together on the screen, but on the page, this is where it really got started.
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1-12
Given the way Daredevil and Jessica Jones have gone so far, there's a good chance we'll be seeing a darker version of Iron Fist on Netflix, and if that's what you're into, this is definitely the book for you. Written and drawn by Kaare Andrews, it adds a sinister new flair to the K'un L'un mythology, shows us the most tortured side of Danny Rand we've ever seen, and reveals secrets that shake the entire story of Iron Fist to its very core.
Power Man and Iron Fist #1 (2016)
On the other hand, if you'd like something lighter, consider this really fun new series from writer David Walker and artist Sanford Greene that Marvel just launched this month. It takes all the buddy comedy fun of the original series and then adds even more. And yes, Luke says "Sweet Christmas."
Power Man and Iron Fist #79
Sometimes it's fun to read a story that's just plain weird, and because Power Man and Iron Fist lived through the Bronze Age together, they've definitely got some strange tales to tell. So, consider this one, in which they basically end up fighting Daleks with the serial numbers filed off.