The brain child of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, Iron Fist made his debut in 1974's Marvel Premiere #15 as martial arts-themed heroes were running rampant at Marvel comics. The character was also directly inspired by the first kung-fu film that Thomas saw, which he himself admits had a sequence called “the ceremony of the Iron Fist” in its plot.
In the pages of the comics, Danny was the son of Wendell Rand and his wife Heather. As a boy, his father Wendell had found the mythical city of K'un-L'un and been raised there himself, before departing to become a successful businessman in his own right. As an adult, he sought out that city again, and led his family on a doomed expedition where he was betrayed by his partner Harold Meachum. Though he and his wife wouldn't make it through the climb, young Danny found his way to K'un-L'un.
Danny finds himself in K'un-L'un just as its portal door opens for the first time in ten years, as it always does. He is taken in by the city and put under the tutelage of Lei Kung, the Thunderer.
After ten years of training, Danny is given the opportunity to become the living weapon, which has a strict test, fighting and defeating the dragon Shou-Lao the Undying. Danny manages to not only defeat the dragon but gains the dragon tattoo on his chest and become the living weapon in the process.
The final part of the task of defeating Shou-Lao the Undying sees Danny plunging his hands into the dragon's molten heart and gaining the power of the Iron Fist.
After completing his ascension to the Iron Fist, the door to K'un-L'un opens once again on Earth, and Danny chooses to return to seek vengeance against Meachum for killing his father. When the confrontation finally takes place, Danny finds Harold is a helpless amputee and despite Meachum's pleas to end his life, takes pity on him.
Following this, Iron Fist stuck around in New York City and worked as a street-level hero where he fought alongside the Daughters of the Dragon, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, falling in love with the later. He even fought notable villains like Sabretooth and superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man.
During his adventures with Wing and Knight, he found himself fighting alongside none other than Power Man himself, Luke Cage, which saw the two become buddies and form the Heroes for Hire company. Behind the scenes, this combo was done as a way to save the character from being gone entirely as his series had been canceled.
After many years of heroing, the unthinkable happened to Danny, he contracted cancer. Danny returned to K'un-L'un to attempt to fight it where he was captured by the H'ylthri, who created a doppleganger of Danny that wrote a red version of his costume. Eventually the ruse was figured out and Danny was released, also curing his cancer through sheer will via his meditation.
Following his return, Danny and Luke reform the Heroes for Hire with an expanded roster (and with the backing of Prince Namor's company) with a roster that included Black Knight, Ant-Man, White Tiger, Hercules, She-Hulk, Thena, and the original Human Torch Jim Hammond.
While Matt Murdock sat in a prison cell following his secret identity being outed to the public, Danny took on the mantle of Daredevil and patrolled Hell's Kitchen to deflect suspicion from his friend.
Following the events of Civil War, where he opposed the superhuman registration act, Danny joined the New Avengers team, lead by Luke Cage, and fought alongside Hawkeye (operating as Ronin), Doctor Strange, Wolverine, and Spider-Man.
When Danny tales a quick trip into the dimension of Agamotto, the deity decalres him his champion and rewards him with a shiny, white costume.
After a mostly collar-free existence, the most recent Iron Fist comic series saw the puffy fin behind his neck return as a motif. He also employed the use of more weapons than usual.
Danny and Luke would reteam once again recently with another costume upgrade to Danny's digs.
The next Iron Fist series is set to start soon where Danny finds an island of people who know all about those that have wielded the Iron Fist...
As we said, Danny isn't the only person to weild the power of the Iron Fist, and he won't be the last. The book of the Iron Fist lists 66 men and women who have worn the title, so here are some of the others...
The very first Iron Fist, who sacrificed himself to keep the door from the Eighth City (a prison for demons and the like) from staying open.
Of the 66 people to carry the title of Iron Fist, only one of them was actually a pacifist. Li Park operated circa 730 A.D. and managed to defeat a mongol horde by harnessing his chi to create visions of peace.
Five hundred years later, in 1227 AD., another Iron Fist would come along who was powerful enough to repel the forces of Genghis Khan.
Three hundred years later, another would hold the mantle, but Wu Ao-Shi also had a day job: The Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay. She also channels her abilities to fire flaming arrows in rapid succession.
In the 1500s, long before the Phoenix Force arrived on Earth and inhabited Jean Grey, the entity was repelled from the planet by none other than a young girl who used the power of the Iron Fist to absorb its powers and fly off into the stars with it.
The Iron Fist of the year 1860, Bei Bang-Wen fought against the British Army in the Second Opium War in China. Like few other Iron Fists, he gave up his powers and lead a solitary life afterward.
Following Bei Bang-Wen, another Iron Fist rode through the world in the 1870s, specifically in the Wild West of America.
Perhaps the most famous Iron Fist in comics lore besides Danny, Orson Randall took on the role in the early 1900s and used his ability to transfer his chi into his hand guns, which he used to fight in World War I. Randall would later go on to be a mentor to Wendall Rand, filling his head with stories of the mythical city of K'un-Lun.
Yet another clone of Danny Rand, this one only lasted a few issues but managed to have a a very cool costume along the way.
The son of Lei-Kung the Thunderer and friend of none other than Wendall Rand, Davos thought himself the most worthy of possessing the Iron Fist's power but was beaten and shamed out of the line of succession. Davos even tried to fight Shou-Lao himself anyway, but he was quickly dispatched by the beast. There was a time though when Davos stole the Iron Fist powers from Danny Rand (for approximately two issues).
The young prodigy-turned-leader of ninja clan The Hand, Junzo learned of the city of K'un-L'un and the Iron Fist from his mentor, deciding that he wanted to possess this power for himself. As other villains tried, Junzo made a play for it and absorbed Danny's chi and abilities after defeating him in combat.
During the Avengers vs X-Men crossover, Hope was taken to K'un-L'un to learn how to thwart the Phoenix Force (in an attempt to mimic the tale of Fongji Wu). Before she can finish her training, the Phoenix possessed Cyclops attacks, but using her power-mimicry, Hope combines the powers of Scarlet Witch and Iron Fist to defeat him and later absorb and repel the Phoenix.
A future Iron Fist whom the hero Finesse learned the “Iron Hammer” technique from. Given the other heroes she cites as having learned fighting moves from, it can be gathered that this Iron Fist is the descendant of presumably Shang-Chi and another hero.
The Iron Fist of 3099, the young man was the youngest person to ever challenge Shou-Lao and the yougnest to ever harness his chi and become the Iron Fist. He was sent to Earth to fight against the tyrannical President Xing and defeated his entire regime with just one punch.
In the pages of Deadpool v Gambit, Deadpool finds himself wielding the Iron Fist thanks to some trickery from none other than Loki.
The Ultimate Comics version of Iron Fist is similar enough to the traditional version, though his costume is a little more grounded, with no collar or hooded mask.
In the pages of the Marvel Apes crossover, there is in fact a monkey Iron Fist.
In the reality of Earth-8545 from Exiles, Luke Cage is the Iron Fist, and goes by the name Power Fist.
In the “What If...? House of M” special, the one-shot posits, what if the Scarlet Witch ended the conflict by saying “No more powers” instead of “No more Mutants.” As a result, Tony Stark builds power suits for the now-powerless heroes of Earth, including Iron Fist.
In the one shot of “Marvel Knights Millennial Visions #2001,” which created several alternate realities, saw a story where Danny Rand was “Power Man” and Misty Knight was the Iron Fist.
The Exiles, whose entire job is to wander through alternate Earths and right wrongs, find one Earth where all of the heroes of America work for Danny Rand at Heroes for Hire, Inc. Danny himself is even part of the “Avengers package.”
Iron Fist has appeared in a number of animated Marvel series, including the Wolverine and the X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel's Super Hero Squad and Marvel Disk Wars.
The character has also had some video game appearances, including Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage for SNES and Sega Genesis, Marvel vs Capcom 3, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
The most recent version of the character see Game of Thrones' Finn Jones starring as Danny Rand in the upcoming Marvel's Iron Fist for Netflix. He's set to reprise his role alongside Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage in The Defenders.