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How Iron Fist’s mythology fueled the new season.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Iron Fist Season 2!

Head here for more on the new hero teased in Iron Fist Season 2, or here for an explanation of the ending of the season.

One of the main takeaways from Iron Fist Season 2 is that the power of the Iron Fist is a lot more complicated than it seems. This season saw Davos rise up and steal Danny Rand’s mystical abilities, only to in turn lose that power to Colleen Wing. But as the final episode revealed, there’s more than one Iron Fist in the world, and more than one way to use that power.

As with most things in Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all of these plot twists are inspired by elements from the comics. Here’s a quick breakdown of how Iron Fist’s power works, why it can be transferred or stolen, and why Danny Rand is just the latest in a long line of heroes to wield that power.

The Power of the Iron Fist

Iron Fist technically has more in common with a hero like Iron Man than he does Spider-Man or Daredevil. Like Tony Stark, Danny Rand has no innate superhuman abilities. Sure, he’s a world-class martial artist who spent years honing his skills, but he only gained powers after absorbing the power of the dragon Shou-Lao into his body. His power comes from an external source, and that power can be stolen or altered given the right set of circumstances.

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In the TV series, we saw that happen when Davos acquired a mystical bowl and performed a ritual to steal the power of Shou-Lao for himself. This has also happened in the comics on more than one occasion. As in the TV series, Davos stole Danny’s power during one of their early confrontations, though Danny was able to reclaim it. The other thief was a teen martial arts prodigy named Junzo Muto. The leader of the Hand at the time, Junzo used his innate power to steal energy from others to siphon away Danny’s power and become the Iron Fist. Even after joining forces with Wolverine to defeat Junzo, Danny was left powerless until finding another way of regaining his abilities.

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Not only can the power of Iron Fist be stolen, it can be strengthened or weakened. At multiple times in his superhero career, Danny’s power has become diminished and in need of recharging, at which point the chi of other warriors is the only fuel source that can do the trick. For instance, in the 2017 Iron Fist comic, Danny fought in a brutal martial arts tournament, draining the chi of each defeated opponent in order to replenish his own waning power.

The Colors of Iron Fist

One thing Season 2 established is that the Iron Fist power seems to change colors based on the person wielding it. Danny’s fists glow yellow when he taps into his power, while Davos’ glows red and Colleen’s glows white. These aren’t simply random choices, but seem to be reflections of the wielder and their connection to the Iron Fist.

In the comics, red implies a corrupted or tainted connection to Shou-Lao’s power. Iron Fist briefly wore a red costume during a period when Danny was replaced by an alien doppelganger. That alien was able to replicate Danny’s powers, but the red costume reflected his sense of unworthiness carrying the mantle. The red costume returned when Danny himself was temporarily corrupted by a villain named Chiantang.

It makes sense that Davos’ power would be red. Though he views being Iron Fist as his natural birthright, his increasingly dark and sadistic behavior over the course of Season 2 proved he was unworthy of that honor.

As for white, that color implies purity and a deeper connection to the mystical power of Shou-Lao. Danny’s costume changed to white after an encounter with Agamotto, the very first Sorcerer Supreme. His costume remained white for a long time afterward, reflecting his increased power and purity of spirit.

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Again, it makes sense that Colleen would have white powers. Season 2 reveals that she may be directly descended from the very first Iron Fist, a woman named Wu Ao-Shi. She seems to have a deeper, more fundamental connection to the power than either Danny or Davos.

The Lineage of Iron Fist

The new season dealt more with the idea that Danny, Davos and Colleen are all just the latest in a long line of people to carry the mantle of Iron Fist. That legacy includes a World War I-era hero named Orson Randall (more on Orson here) and the first Iron Fist in recorded history, Wu Ao-Shi.

A handful of Iron Fists from throughout Marvel history.

A handful of Iron Fists from throughout Marvel history.

This all draws very directly from the comic book source material. It’s only fairly recently that Danny met Orson Randall and learned about the full history of his fellow Iron Fists, but readers have since learned that the world has been protected by these heroes dating back to the 16th Century, when Wu Ao-Shi established her reputation as the dreaded “Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay.”

In fact, recent Avengers comics have revealed that the lineage of Iron Fist dates back much further, all the way to the year 1,000,000 B.C. The very first Iron Fist was a woman who joined forces with the likes of Odin, the Phoenix and the original incarnations of Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Ghost Rider to become a prehistoric team of Avengers.

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In the comics, Colleen has no known connection to Wu Ao-Shi and has never wielded the power of Iron Fist, so that’s one area where the show seems to be diverging from the source material. One other interesting change in the show is that Orson Randall’s power seems to linger inside his pistols, allowing Danny to tap into that power even though he himself is no longer Iron Fist. This may be a way of allowing both Danny and Colleen to wield Iron Fist’s power in Season 3, despite Season 2 establishing that two Iron Fists can’t exist at the same time without that power eventually destroying them both.

The Capital Cities of Heaven

Not only did Season 2 imply that Orson Randall will be making his MCU debut soon, it also hinted that fans may soon be seeing some of the other mystical cities that exist in tandem with K’un L’un. In the comics, Orson reveals that K’un-Lun is one of seven “Capital Cities of Heaven.” Each of these cities has its own Iron Fist-like defender, including characters like Fat Cobra, Bride of Nine Spiders, Dog Brother and Prince of Orphans. Only one of these cities can be linked to Earth at any given time, and every so often a grand tournament is held to decide which city will be granted that honor.

We wouldn’t be surprised if that tournament becomes the focal point of Iron Fist Season 3. At the very least, the series seems to be positioning a character called Crane Mother as a major antagonist down the road. Crane Mother is the leader of a city called K’un-Zi. During the tournament between cities, she chose Davos as her city’s champion and gave him enough power to rival that of Iron Fist. The reveal of a crane logo on the back of Colleen’s medallion and the fact that the so-called Crane Sisters were instrumental in transferring the Iron Fist power from Danny to Davos to Colleen could suggest that this villain has been pulling strings all along.

For more on Iron Fist, check out our Season 2 reviewending explainerpost-credits scene breakdown, and everything we know about Typhoid Mary, Orson Randall and Davos.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.





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