Iron Fist Calls Out Marvel’s Past Handling of Character’s Origin

While Iron Fist is a beloved character, his origin is problematic, and this gets a sly shout-out in Iron Fist # 2, on sale now in print and digital.

Warning: contains spoilers for Iron Fist # 2!

Marvel’s new Iron Fist comic is calling out the publisher’s past handling of the character’s origin. In Iron Fist # 2, Lin Lie, the former Swordmaster and current Iron Fist, travels to the city of K’un-Lun. Some of the city’s residents are not happy with another Iron Fist from outside of K’un-Lun, in the process calling out some of the character’s problematic aspects. The issue is on sale now in print and digital.

The title of Iron Fist is an ancient one, tracing its roots back to prehistoric times; the first Iron Fist served with the Stone Age Avengers. Perhaps the most famous Iron Fist is Danny Rand, an American whose plane crash landed near K’un-Lun when he was a child. Danny was raised there and assumed the role of Iron Fist when he became an adult. Recently, Danny stepped down from the role and relinquished the power. Shortly thereafter, the Swordmaster’s magical sword Fu Xi exploded and the shards were embedded in his hands. Shou-Lao the Undying, the dragon who guards K’un-Lun and bestows the Iron Fists their abilities, gives the power to Lin Lie. This new Iron Fist has attracted not only the attention of Danny Rand, but the citizens of K’un-Lun. Iron Fist # 2 is written by Alyssa Wong, illustrated by Michael Yg and Sean Chen, inked by Yg and Victor Olazaba, colored by Jay David Ramos and lettered by Travis Lanham.


Related: Marvel’s New Iron Fist Has a Major Weakness the Original Didn’t

The issue sees Iron Fist and his friend Mei Min fighting demons in Shanghai, and Iron Fist is having trouble controlling his new powers. Eventually, he is able to channel the Shou-Lao’s Chi, defeating the last of the demons. The pair return to K’un-Lun, where they are confronted by Yang Yi and other residents. Yang Yi notes that Iron Fist is having trouble controlling the Chi — all the proof he needs that Lin Lie is not fit to be the Iron Fist. Yang Yi goes onto say that the previous Iron Fist (Danny Rand) was an outsider, as was the Iron Fist before him. Yang Yi then challenges Iron Fist to combat. The two fight, going back and forth until Sparrow Yu-Ti intervenes.

Yang-Yi is correct in his assessment: there have been Iron Fists who were not born in K’un-Lun, and this is a sly call-out to some of the more problematic issues with the character. Danny Rand is a white American, yet Shou-Lao still chose him to be Iron Fist; this trope, of a white, European person coming to a different culture and showing it up is all too common in fiction, and Iron Fist is no exception. The character was created to cash in on the martial arts movie craze of the early 1970s, but instead of having a Chinese person in the role, it was somebody of European descent. While Danny proved himself worthy of the title time and again, it is still nevertheless problematic. The new Iron Fist, while Chinese, is still not from K’un-Lun, leaving readers to wonder if there ever will be an Iron Fist from the ancient city.

Iron Fist is a beloved but problematic character whose origins have been questionably handled in the past; however, there have been attempts to address these issues, namely creating a Chinese Iron Fist. He’s still an outsider though, allowing Marvel to call out Iron Fist’s origins.

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