When I first heard that Iron Fist was making a playable appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 I was really excited. I still am, though I wasn’t a fan of Danny in any big way until recently when Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker knocked it out of the park with their Immortal Iron Fist series.
They made Danny Rand relevant (again?), no small feat after languishing in relative obscurity for nigh 30 years. Fun, fresh, wonderfully vibrant and human, The Immortal Iron Fist captured whatever it is that makes comics great and put it on the page for everyone to see.
That’s all well and good but I have a strong feeling that quite a few members of the community were and still are thinking, “Why Iron Fist?” Why not Gambit or Venom or any one of the other characters that they voted on. But I think that’s exactly the question: Why not? Some people might cry and moan but the fact remains that the green and yellow-gilded kung fu master made the cut. I’m here to explain why that’s so awesome.
I wish I had gotten this out a little sooner, before Maximilian’s Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: MARVEL CHARACTERS BREAKDOWN, and if you’ve already seen it I’ve got a lot more info for you so keep reading. Quickly, Iron Fist is the title held by corporate mogul playboy Danny Rand. He’s the champion of K’un-Lun, a mystical city that appears in our dimension once every 10 years, and even then in the unreachable K’un-Lun Mountains in China.
Danny grew up there, orphaned when his parents died searching for the city in the snow. He trained with Lei-Kung the Thunderer, the king of kung fu at K’un-Lun, won a tournament and was given the honor of facing Shou-Lao the Undying, a terrible dragon whose chi gives the Iron Fists their powers. Against all odds Danny defeated Shou-Lao and plunged his fists into the monster’s molten heart, granting him access to the dragon’s nearly limitless chi and transformed his fists into things unto iron.
Currently he’s teamed up with the other Immortal Weapons: Fat Cobra, Dog Brother #1, the Bride of 9 Spiders, the Prince of Orphans, and Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and they’re out in the world doing kung fu and kicking tons of ass. And there you have it, an oh so brief synopsis of the life and times of Danny Rand. But that’s not really what you came here for was it? You want to know what he can do, what powers he has, and how he might play in UMvC3, right? Luckily for you that’s what I’m here to talk about.
First let’s tackle what Danny can do and what his powers are, super or not. At the most basic level Danny is a master of kung fu and multiple other martial arts and is probably one of the top 5 best martial artists on the planet. He’s got the strength, speed, reflexes, and agility of a human in peak physical condition. Think olympic athlete, but when you factor in the ancient burning chi of Shou-Lao the Undying, that’s when things start to get a little crazy.
In the earliest comics Danny Rand had just what his moniker suggests: iron fists. He could punch through solid brick and steel, block bullets, and hit bad guys really really hard. But in the most recent Iron Fist comics Danny and his predecessors have utilized Shou-Lao’s chi in some incredibly amazing ways. Wu Ao-Shi, an Iron Fist known as the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay, infused her arrows with the dragon’s power, transforming them into burning bolts of death that seemed to rain from the heavens. Bei Bang-Wen, an Iron Fist during the Opium Wars, could tap into Shou-Lao’s chi and use it to enhance his cerebral abilities and see possibilities and strategies no one else could. Iron Fists are nothing if not inventive. Hint hint Capcom!
Danny once formed a massive chi dragon that flew from his fist (think Talbain from Darkstalkers) and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something like it in UMvC3 as a tribute to the werewolf. Shou-Lao’s chi makes him more durable, stronger, faster, and grants him access to certain, less aggressive abilities. He can heal himself, hypnotize his enemies, catch bullets out of thin air, smash into trains loaded with explosives AND survive (not exactly less aggressive…), and lots more. Basically he becomes more than human while channeling the dragon.
In short, Danny’s a physical powerhouse who can dish out a ton of damage. Unfortunately, he’s still baseline human and he still bleeds profusely if he’s shot or stabbed or beaten on by supers and he can’t harness Shou-Lao’s power to infinitum. Don’t get me wrong, all those years of training and the dragon’s chi help him stand up to most meta human threats and legions of Hydra agents but if his chi is drained he gets smacked down just like any normal guy and his healing powers pale in comparison to Wolverine’s. I imagine him being a little like Akuma in UMvC3: powerful but sporting a glass jaw. I hope that’s not the case but…
And don’t expect too many projectiles. I know I was talking about that chi dragon but that’s just wishful thinking. Iron Fist does most of his fighting with what you’d expect: his fists. Unlike Maximilian I don’t think he’ll be slow. He’s a small dude and he relies a lot on his speed while dealing with bigger threats so I expect him to be a bit faster than say… Spencer, maybe on par with Akuma, nowhere near Jill.
One thing that Max mentioned that’s definitely worth thinking about is that Iron Fist is a tabula rasa. He’s a clean slate because he’s never been translated into a fighting game before. If there’s something that I hope Capcom does take into consideration when they’re designing Danny’s move set it’s the almost campy way the names of his and the other Immortal Weapon’s attacks appear on the page. Here’s a quick example:
See what I mean? I would love to see kanji or symbols appear when he did certain specials/hypers just like She-Hulk has onomatopoeia WHAAAMs showing up when she drop kicks somebody.
In conclusion, Iron Fist is an awesome addition to the ranks of the MvC series. He’s got a lot of fun history, a great look, very cool powers, especially when he’s channeling the chi of the dragon, and lots of room to grow into his own unique character if Capcom’s willing to put in the time and effort. Get pumped for the Immortal Iron Fist!