Danny: “…I’ll remind you that– I am a multi-billionaire super-powered martial artist who returned to this realm for the sole purpose of mortal revenge.”
Immortal Iron Fists #4 by Kaare Andrews, Afu Chan, and Shelly Chen
…So our favorite personality trait is actually a combination of traits– a feature of Danny’s character that stole our hearts the first time both of us started reading Iron Fist, and which Finn Jones and the writers have done a beautiful job recreating in the Netflix shows. Comics Danny, at the age of nine, watched his dad get pushed off a cliff and his mom get eaten alive by wolves. MCU Danny didn’t have it quite so bad– he only watched his parents die in a plane crash that he barely survived himself. In both universes, he could easily have turned into a dark, haunted person. In fact, he did for a while. As mentioned, he returned to Earth in order to murder a guy (and we’ll be talking about the differences between how the show and comics handled this revenge quest tomorrow!). But in spite of all the horror he’s been through in his life, he has blocked and dodged all (well, most) of the broody psychosis so often thrown at street-level heroes, and remains an amazingly upbeat, friendly, cheerful, genuine person. We don’t use this term much, because it’s subjective and not exactly analytical, but… he’s adorable. He is one of the least emotionally-constipated superheroes out there, and that’s really refreshing, particularly for a male character.
Power Man and Iron Fist vol. 1 #57 by Mary Jo Duffy, Trevor Von Eedon, and G. Roussos
Danny: “Look, despite all that’s happened– all that’s changed– I want you to know. You’re still my best friend. And I’ll always be there.”
Cage vol. 1 #13 by Marc McLaurin, Scott Benefiel, and Frank Turner
This doesn’t mean he doesn’t experience hardship, or character development– he does, in spades. But he always bounces back from adversity with a smile, and almost never takes it out on his loved ones. Matt Murdock (to uh, throw out a name at random) is fun to read about… but we’d never, ever want to be friends with him. But you bet we would hang out with Danny.
Danny: “Just consider this a little reminder… that crime doesn’t pay!”
Luke: “You havin’ a good time, Fist?”
Power Man and Iron Fist vol. 1 #63 by Mary Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill, and Ed Hannigan
Jeryn: “Danny… are you using your Rand expense account to fund Luke and his fugitive Avengers?”
Danny: “Nooooo. […] Yes.”
Immortal Iron Fist #16 by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, David Aja, et al.
And that on its own would make him an enjoyable character, but it is paired with the fact that he is the Iron Fist, which requires a certain mindset and level of– for lack of a better term– stone-cold badassery. Danny is a sweet guy, but if you get on his bad side he can, and will, end you. Immortal Iron Fist, goldmine of fantastic Danny quotes, gives us one of our favorite lines to epitomize this side of his personality:
Danny: “One day, this mantle bestowed upon me… the Iron Fist… one day it will kill me. I know this. And I hope it’s a glorious, heroic death. I hope I die in a way that honors my gifts. I hope I embrace my death when it comes. I imagine fire. I imagine blood.”
Immortal Iron Fist #3 by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, David Aja, et al.
The Netflix shows have done a great job of balancing this duality, mostly thanks to Finn’s amazing ability to be cute one minute and terrifyingly intense the next.
Danny’s arc in Iron Fist and The Defenders did end up following the trend of all of the Netflix shows and skewing darker than most of the source material– which we were kind of expecting. But what’s important is that Danny’s lightness of spirit was retained, and this balance of personality traits, which is part of what makes his character so much fun, has been celebrated and adapted into glorious live action.