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Iron Fist‘s main power is pretty self-explanatory: He’s got a super-strong fist. But as with most long-running superheroes, his powers are more complicated than they look. New creators offered different spins on the character, inventing new superpowers and skills. For instance, did you know he can basically do Jedi mind tricks? Right. Here are some other things you might not know about Iron Fist’s powers.
How does Iron Fist’s power work?
If you’ve read any Iron Fist comics or seen the Netflix show, you’ll recognize Iron Fist’s main superpower. By harnessing his chi (life force) through meditation, he can make his fist into an impossibly strong, durable weapon. His hand glows with a yellow light and can punch through walls or end a fight in a single blow. He’s also an accomplished martial artist with enhanced reflexes, agility, and overall endurance. And unlike mutant or Inhuman characters in the Marvel universe, his power is unique.
After years of training in the secret city of K’un Lun, Danny Rand earned the title of Iron Fist by passing a series of trials including defeating a dragon in combat. This made him the latest in a long line of Iron Fists, tasked with protecting K’un Lun from its enemies. He can still be killed by a bullet or other human means, so the comics tend to pair him with opponents on a similar level: non-powered criminals, martial artists, and paranormal villains with ties to K’un-Lun or the Hand. It’s easy to see the character’s origins in martial arts cinema, where it’s not uncommon for heroes to master a rare and difficult fighting technique through perseverance and training.
Instead of being able to use his Iron Fist powers anytime like other superheroes, Danny has to meditate and maintain a sense of spiritual balance, allowing him to control his chi and use it in conjunction with his combat skills.
What are Iron Fist’s other superpowers?
In your average Iron Fist comic, Danny Rand mostly relies on his hand-to-hand combat skills, using the actual Iron Fist power as an additional power-up move. But sometimes, we’ll find out about one of his more obscure abilities. Danny’s mystical origin story gives writers a lot of creative leeway to add new powers, usually tying into the way he controls his chi.
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While Danny doesn’t use magic on the same level as Doctor Strange or Scarlet Witch, some comics show him using hypnosis—and in the TV show, there’s a scene where he seemingly hypnotizes a dog. In one Spider-Man comic, he uses a kind of telepathic meditation technique to calm a raging mob:
Danny can also heal himself and others by channeling his life force, although it takes a lot out of him. In at least one comic he’s able to create a kind of psychic mind-meld with another person’s consciousness, but perhaps his wildest superpower is the ability to jump between dimensions. Needless to say, this doesn’t come up very often.
In the world of superhero comics, this kind of power tends to appear or be quietly forgotten by Marvel canon, depending on who’s writing the comic. Some creators want Danny Rand to be a goofy vigilante with cool kung-fu skills, while others want him to be an epic fantasy hero on par with Doctor Strange. When it comes to Netflix’s Marvel series, he’s somewhere in between: a serious character with lofty origins but rather modest powers.
Since the Netflix franchise focuses on street-level villains and action scenes, we don’t expect Iron Fist to start displaying psychic abilities or hopping between dimensions. That kind of thing is best left to the big-budget movies.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor