Ever since the Marvel/Netflix line-up of shows was announced in 2013, we have been eagerly anticipating “Iron Fist.” It seemed like an unlikely choice due to the scale of production it would take to adapt his origin. However, we were stoked at the prospect. Then, due to the wait between shows, rumors started that “Iron Fist” had been scrapped. Fans that believed the story were disappointed but not surprised. So, regardless of what critics want to say, we are just happy this series made it to the air.
We, of course, binge-watched the whole series last weekend like the rest of you…and then we watched it a second time. After pouring over every second of footage, we have found enough easter eggs for two of these lists. Therefore, below we outline the 15 best and hardest to spot nods to the comics.
WARNING: This article is full of spoilers for season one of “Iron Fist” on Netflix.
15. DOGS OF HELL
It is well known that although the MCU includes the Marvel Studios movies, the ABC shows (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Agent Carter”) and the Netflix “Defenders” line-up, the three don’t really interact much. Sure, S.H.I.E.L.D. very loosely ties into the movies occasionally and the Netflix shows mention the Avengers at least once a season, but fans want more. The Dogs of Hell biker gang are quickly becoming one of the most fun connections between Marvel’s segmented MCU.
The Nevada chapter of the Dogs showed up in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in the Season 1 episode “Yes Men.” This ep featured the Asgardian sorceress Lorelei using her powers to make the bikers to do her bidding. The bikers next made an appearance in Season 2 of “Daredevil.” Their New York chapter is one of the criminal enterprises Frank Castle goes after in the season. Now, in “Iron Fist” they get a mention when Madame Gao is having a meeting in the Rand building about the synthetic heroin and who will distribute it. The posse was also introduced into the comics last fall in “Civil War II: Kingpin” #2.
14. OBSCURE CHARACTERS
We decided to group two easter eggs together here as they seemed to be quick name drops. First off, we have Danny’s fake passport which he is asked about at the Birch Psychiatric Hospital. It is under the name John Anderson and it says he is from Toronto, Canada. In the comics, Anderson is a character from Spider-Man’s supporting cast. He was a large, red-haired Kiwi who lived in the apartment above Peter’s during Paul Jenkins’ “The Spectacular Spider-Man” (2003-2005) run. Why they picked this name for the passport, we have no idea.
Next we have Jimmy Pierce, who was the extra fighter brought in to fight Colleen in her second cage match, in Episode 4. This character first appeared in “Punisher” #86 (1994) where he was introduced as a reluctant member of the Black Cullen crime family. When Frank was thought dead, Pierce was strong-armed into enforcing for his clan in a costume similar to the Punisher’s.
13. CRANE MOTHER
This whole Crane Mother thing is getting a little confusing. When Madame Gao first showed up in “Daredevil: Season 1,” fans immediately assumed she was Crane Mother judging by her appearance and martial arts ability. Furthermore, her use of the Steel Serpent emblem on her heroin seemed to allude to Crane Mother’s alliance with Davos in the comics. Now, all that speculation is likely out the door as Danny says in this series that the monks that saved him were from the Order of the Crane Mother.
In Episode 6, Gao infers that she is from K’un Lun and outright states that she knew a previous Iron Fist. In the comics, the Crane Mother, her Crane Daughters and her Crane Champion are not from K’un Lun, but are from another Capital City of Heaven named K’un Zi. However, her mention of the former Iron Fist does line up with how Crane Mother knew an Iron Fist named Orson Randall and wanted revenge on him for the death of her Crane Champion.
12. HAND TOURNAMENT
The Iron Fist is the champion of K’un Lun, which is one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. Each of Capital Cities have a champion called an Immortal Weapon. In the comics, the most documented line-up of these fabled martial artists are those that fought in the last Tournament of the Heavenly Cities, which include: Prince of Orphans, Fat Cobra, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter, Dog Brother #1, Steel Serpent and Bride of Nine Spiders. While seeing the Heavenly Cities tourney would have been amazing, we do at least get a version of Bride of Nine Spiders throwing down with Danny in the Hand Tournament in Episode 6.
Scythe is the karaoke-singing assassin that Danny fights in the final round of the tournament. In the comics, he only ever appeared in “Marvel Premiere” #16 (1974). However, this issue is significant as it detailed Iron Fist’s origin story for the first time and is the source of many elements in the show. Scythe was a kusari-gama wielding mercenary that hunted Danny down to try to collect a $10,000 bounty that Harold Meachum had placed on his head. The version of Scythe on the show bares little resemblance to his comic book namesake.
11. DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON
In Episode 3 Colleen tells the cage fight promoter to announce her as the Daughter of the Dragon. This alludes to the name given to Colleen Wing and Misty Knight by Steel Serpent (Davos) when they start a detective agency together. The official name of the P.I. firm is Nighting Restorations Inc. The ladies first appeared as a duo in “Iron Fist” #10 (1976), which was written by Chris Claremont with pencils by John Byrne. They were then regulars in the “Power Man and Iron Fist” series from the late ‘70s and early ’80s. This street smart pair even had their own six-issue “Daughters of the Dragon” miniseries in 2006.
While we are all eagerly awaiting the meeting and team-up of Iron Fist and Luke Cage (Heroes For Hire) in “The Defenders,” possibly just as exciting is the prospect of Colleen and Misty partnering up. We think “Heroes For Hire” and “Daughters of the Dragon” would make awesome follow ups to “The Defenders.”
The Bakuto that appeared in this series definitely had some similarities to his counterpart from the comics but just as many differences. This high ranking member of The Hand appeared in three consecutive issues of “Daredevil” starting with #505 (2010). These issues are part of Andy Diggle, Anthony Johnston and Marco Checchetto’s run that led up to the underrated “Shadowland” event. While his time in the Marvel Universe was short, he made a strong impression. He was introduced as one of five Hand Daimyos, which each control a whole continent. The other Daimyos are Takashi, Makoto, Yutaka and the Daredevil-appointed White Tiger.
Both versions of this character are young, self-assured and at odds with The Hand’s older and more traditional leaders. They also both handle The Hand’s operations in South America. Lastly, the way Bakuto is stabbed to death in the show is not exactly the same as how he perishes in the comics but it does clearly echo the bloody assassination. The biggest difference is in appearance. In the comics, he is Japanese, has multiple piercings and neck and face tattoos. Also, his personality in the source material is quite dissimilar as he is loud, disrespectful and impetuous.
9. KENJI OZAWA
There are two times that Colleen alludes to her heritage and backstory in this series. When Danny meets Colleen in the park in the first episode, he speaks Mandarin to her, but she tells him to speak English or Japanese, as she has not spoken the language since she was a kid. In the comics, her father is Chinese and her mother is of Japanese descent. Colleen’s mother is murdered when she is a young child, so her dad leaves the youngster to be raised by her maternal grandfather, Kenji Ozawa, in Japan. Being from a samurai bloodline and having lost his sons in war, Kenji grooms Colleen to be a warrior. As the picture above illustrates, she was trained in kenjitsu in the mountains of Northern Honshu from an early age.
Then, in Episode 8, Colleen tells Danny about the death of her mother and going to live in Japan with her grandfather. Most of what she says lines up with her comic book origin, but on the show, her mother passed away due to illness.
8. ZHOU CHENG/CH’I-LIN
One of the best fights in this series packed with high-quality choreography is in Episode 8 when Danny goes up against the guard that appears at first to be a drunken vagrant. Once the man makes it crystal clear he’s not moving, he announces himself as Joe Cheng. However, if you listen closely to what Madame Gao says to him just before Danny makes himself known, it sounds like she calls him Zhou Cheng. Either way, he is definitely an adaptation of Zhou Cheng from the comics, because he follows up his name with stating that he is a disciple of Ch’i-Lin. That clenches it.
Ch’i-Lin the undying is a demon that inhabits human hosts to kill Iron Fists. It was introduced by Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman in “The Immortal Iron Fist” #17 (2010) and was possessing the body of a man named Zhou Cheng at the time. This reptilian demon hunts down Iron Fists when they turn 33 years-old and not only kills them, but also harvests their hearts.
7. THE BEAST
When Danny and co. are holding Madame Gao in Episode 9, he asks her, “You got anything scarier than a dragon in a cave?” And without hesitation she snaps back: “Yes, yes I do.” Now, considering she is old-school Hand, that is most likely a reference to The Beast. Like our previous entry, this is a demonic entity. However, instead of being an evil spirit of prophecy with a singular purpose like Ch’i-Lin, the mysterious Beast seems to thrive on entropy. He empowers The Hand as long as they spread wanton death and destruction.
In his first appearance in “Elektra: Assassin” #1 (1986), Hand priests tell Elektra that The Beast will take his place in the world of man eventually. However, since that time, he has mostly made his presence felt by possessing those that lead The Hand or are resurrected by the ninja order. Over the years, the entity has taken ahold of Elektra, Daredevil, White Tiger, Black Tarantula and more.
6. STAN LEE/FORBUSH MAN
Stan “The Man” Lee deserves a lot of credit for where comics and comic book movies are today. His cameos have become a staple of the MCU movies and word is that they now film them in advance. So, it was a great move when the Marvel/Netflix shows started incorporating a picture of him as a policeman as an easter egg for sharp-eyed fans to find. Well, “Iron Fist” not only got in on the fun, but also the showrunners took it a step further as well.
In the season finale, when Claire stops Jeri on the street, there is an N.Y.P.D. poster that has the slogan: “Be Proud.” It features the now familiar photo of Stan as a cop AND in the bottom left corner of the picture is a caption that says, Captain Irving Forbush. Don’t worry if the name isn’t familiar, all you need to know is that he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, his alter ego is Forbush Man and he is one of Marvel’s sillier heroes. He has appeared mostly in comedy titles like “Not Brand Echh,” “What the–?!” and more recently, “Deadpool.”
5. THE AVENGERS
All of the Marvel/Netflix shows so far have had references to the Avengers and the Chitauri attack. “Iron Fist” doesn’t drop as many Earth’s Mightiest Heroes easter eggs as the previous series but there is a few. There is the compulsory mention of “The Incident” by the psychiatrist in Episode 2. This was a full blown alien invasion we’re talking about, so it makes sense that it has effected some people’s mental health. Then in Episode 6, when Ward and Joy sit down with the crisis management consultant, he says: “You have more Youtube views then that incredible green guy…” That’s the Hulk, if you’re not picking up what they’re laying down.
The hardest egg to catch though is on the issue of Forbes that Davos is reading in All That and Dim Sum food truck in Episode 9. It has Danny on the cover, which is where your eye is drawn. Do a quick pause and look at the headline at the top though and you will see that it says: “Is Stark Industries Too Big…” While the whole sentence can’t be read, it’s clear Rand isn’t the only MCU company getting bad press.
4. ORSON RANDALL
It was a satisfying moment when Madame Gao mentions to Danny that she has met another Iron Fist in Episode 6. Most guessed this was a reference to Rand’s predecessor, Orson Randall. Then, in Episode 10, Bakuto shows Danny a film from 1948 where the previous Iron Fist takes out several armed soldiers with both of his hands aglow. That basically confirmed it because as you can see in the picture above, the live-action version is nearly identical to his depiction in the comics.
In Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, David Aja and Travel Foreman’s “Immortal Iron Fist” (2007-2008) run, the creators really fleshed out the history and legends of K’un Lun. The “Immortal” part of the title alluded to how the Iron Fist is a proud lineage and they introduced a number of past Fists to develop the idea. Orson Randall was the only outlander to gain the revered title…before Danny, that is. Randall used his chi powers to fight in WW I and was the only Fist to ever evade Ch’i-Lin.
3. JESSICA JONES
While the other Defenders get a couple more nods than the hero formerly-known-as Jewel, her easter egg is pretty fun. When Joy, Ward and Danny are pushed out of Rand by Lawrence Wilkins and the rest of the board in Episode 8, Ward is ready to accept the pay-out. Joy on the other hand, is not willing to let go of their family business so easily.
When the brother-and-sister team meet up later in the episode, she shows him incriminating pictures of Lawrence and tells him she plans to use them to blackmail her way back into the company. Ward asks how she got so much dirt so fast, and his younger sibling responds that she hired a private investigator “a while ago.” Then Ms. Meachum follows up with, “She’s worth every penny…when she’s sober.” Boom, Jessica Jones! Okay, it’s not a straight-up name drop, but we’ve seen her take this kind of case before.
As the street-level hero that started out this Marvel/Netflix shared universe, Matt Murdock deserves some love. With The Hand being a common enemy between the live-action Daredevil and Iron Fist, there kind of has to be some Daredevil references here.
When Danny tries to climb up to Harold’s penthouse, he is kicked off the building by an unseen attacker. He wakes up the next morning in the Penthouse with Ward, who says he couldn’t see in the dark and that’s why he gave him the boot. He then compares Danny scaling the building to Daredevil. A few episodes later, Claire mentions the mayhem the The Hand caused at her hospital, which took place in “Daredevil Season 2.” Lastly, Madame Gao mentions the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen to Danny in Episode 7 and then uses his newer alias, Daredevil, when talking to Claire about her extraordinary friends in Episode 9. Gao is taking notes.
1. LUKE CAGE
Luke Cage and Iron Fist are born of blaxploitation movies and kung-fu flicks, respectively. Therefore, the heroes fit together well when they were teamed up as the Heroes For Hire. Seeing as Cage gets the most references here, Marvel knows how badly we want to see these characters fighting back-to-back in “The Defenders.”
As we said in the previous entry, Madame Gao mentions “the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” in Episode 7, but what we left out is that she also lists “the Man With Unbreakable Skin” in the same sentence. In Episode 8, Claire Temple smells a letter from a correctional facility and as we know, Luke Cage is in jail. Danny also asks her about the letter on the plane and she plays coy, but that only makes it more apparent the letter is from Luke. Then, when Jeri is talking to Danny and Colleen about their legal predicament in Episode 13, Claire adds, “Trust me, our criminal justice system sucks.” Yes, that’s a Cage reference too! Temple even says Cage’s catchphrase “Sweet Christmas” in two different episodes.
Let us know in the comments if there are any other Easter Eggs we missed in season one of “Iron Fist!”