Comic Book Casting: The IRON FIST Live-Action Movie


Every Monday here at iFanboy, we look at comics’ greatest characters and stories and try to imagine what they’d be like in film or television. From the story concept to the people in charge and all the way down to who’d play who, we do it and we call it Comic Book Casting.

Martial arts and mysticism. It’s a potent combination that’s fueled countless imported movies and even a few home-grown classics, and it’s the fertile ground by which Marvel’s Iron Fist was born. Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in the early 70s, the character came about in the initial groundswell behind kung fu movies transitioned to become one of Marvel’s best street-level heroes alongside Luke Cage with creators like Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Larry Hama contributing to the mythos. After a relatively quiet late 80s and 90s, Iron Fist attained a second life when Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja revived him in 2006 for his own series. Although that series has since ended, Iron Fist has gone on to become a popular member of the Avengers team.

And you may not realize it, but Marvel has long been jonesing to bring Iron Fist to the big screen. Since 2000 they’re hired and fired onelead actor, two directors, and commissioned at least three screenplays for the young dragon’s story, with them even going into pre-production once in 2002 before calling it off. In recent months, Marvel has inserted Iron Fist into three of their recent kids-oriented animated shows in what some would see to be a testing ground or “priming the pump” for a more concerted production down the road.

With that in mind, here’s how it could be done.

The Concept:

Some heroes need origin stories, but for Danny Rand it’s best just to drop right in the middle of it. In this case, the it would be the inaugural story arc from Immoral Iron Fist, “The Last Iron Fist Story.” I think it’d be great showing Rand as the younger Iron Fist with an older one — in this case, Orson Randall — still around to teach him a few things if he can find his way out his drug-induced seclusion. He’d be the one who would introduce The Book of the Iron Fist as an untold legacy item that Rand would need in order to prepare himself for a coming emergency. I’d keep the exacts on that short, but Rand and Orson would be trying to keep that book away from pursuers like the Steel Serpent and HYDRA. HYDRA would be working this plan from two ends, though; one would be attempting to get the book, while the other is forcibly opening a portal to K’un L’un high in the mountains of China. For the full story I’d recommend just tracking downthe first Iron Fist trade to get the full gist.

The Director:

This isn’t just a kung fu movie with a new coat of paint — it would be a synthesis of fighting films, Marvel style and with a hint of B-movie bite ala John Carpenter. Mixing those things together, I can’t think of anyone more perfect than Kung Fu Hustle director Stephen Chow. This one-time comedian turned epic writer/director/actor has made attempts to cross over to the American film industry before with a short-lived stint as director of The Green Hornet before quitting, but picturing Chow as director of Iron Fist would be a dark horse candidate with a lot of built-in popularity among serious film aficionados.

The Cast:

Iron Fist / Danny Rand – Charlie Hunnam: marvel almost cast this Sons of Anarchy star once before as Thor, but Hunnam has grown by leaps and bounds since those screen tests and is already poised to strike it big in this summer’s Pacific Rim. I think Rand would be great both in the action scenes as Iron Fist as well as the delinquent CEO of the Rand Corporation — an overlooked but grounding part of this mythos.

Iron Fist / Orson Randall – Dennis Quaid: Is it bad that I like Orson Randall more than I like Danny Rand? Maybe it’s because of his throwback pulp adventures, or the fact that he works as an older, gruffer Iron Fist next to Rand. Either way, Orson Randall works — and so would Dennis Quaid in this role. It’s hard to believe Quaid has never done a comic book movie, but that oversight is good news for Iron Fist fans.

Steel Serpent – Jay Chou: Jay Chou was the one saving grace for the abysmal Green Hornet movie, and I’d love to see more of him — especially as a rival in the likes of the Steel Serpent.

Lei Kung the Thunderer – Chow Yun Fat: Trainer of Danny Rand and father of one of his  most feared nemesis; Lei Kung is a great character in the Iron Fist universe, and I’d argue a great overlooked character for wider use in the Marvel U. Pulling Chow Yun Fat into this would be great as a mentor and would-be ruler of K’un L’un.

John Aman / Prince of Orphans – Donnie Yen: Donnie Yen is perhaps one of China’s biggest stars but has almost completely avoided American films, but I’d lure him in to place the Prince of Orphans in a small cameo type role (think Boba Fett in Empire Strikes Back) that could push things along in this film and also set-up a second film centered on the Immortal Weapons tournament.

Xao – Stephen Chow: Chow’s more than just a funny man — I remember his dramatic turn in the middle sequences of Kung Fu Hustle endearingly. I’d love to see him as the HYDRA agent Xao to provide the villain this story needs.

Misty Knight – Megan Good: With all these mystical artifacts and worlds, we need to remind people that Iron Fist is grounded — and who better than his on-again, off-again girl Misty Knight.  I’d enlist the recent Deception star Megan Good for this and let he go all out.

Colleen Wing – Grace Park:  Daughters of the Dragon unite.Pulling in Colleen Wing with Misty Knight in cameo roles would be a great way to establish Iron Fist’s roots, but also open the door to future movies or perhaps even a Daughters of the Dragon / Heroes For Hire show on their own. Hawaii Five-O‘s Grace Park has been undervalued after the end of Battlestar Galactica, but she’s growing much as an actress and would be a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


  1. What about Luke Cage?

  2. Who do I need to make the check out to? Seriously, I’d be in the seat on opening night for this.

  3. I usually really like the Comic Book Casting article, but this one may be my favorite yet. This would be a fantastic movie!

  4. but who will play the crazy spider queen lady?!?!

  5. I like all these choices, this would be a killer movie. The only thing I worry about is Charlie Hunnam being physically able to do the martial arts scenes, I want it to look natural but also intense like he’s been practicing for years. I always imagine Iron Fist having epic fighting sequences; fast paced and acrobatic but not looking like all those wire-scenes in most Kung Fu movies.

    Another thing that concerns me; and this is story related, Orson Randel. How can there be 2 people with Shang Luo’s power walking around at the same time? Wouldn’t the previous Fist have to die before another can be chosen? And why didn’t Randel die when he was 33 like the others (I didn’t finish the series yet, I made it up to volume 4)? These are problems I found in the comic and want fixed in a movie.

  6. Putting Boomer in an Iron Fist movie is like cake and eating it too…How could they NOT get my money?

  7. You had me at Megan Good.

  8. I love Iron Fist (as my avatar shows, ha) and really would love Marvel to add this film to its stable. Think about how many awesome martial arts films you’ve seen, then combine that with Danny’s glowing Chi-fist, tons of ninjas throwing themselves around him and you’ve got one hell of a film.

    Crouching Tiger Hidden Fat Cobra. Or something.

  9. My fan casting is Garrett Hedlund from Tron: Legacy as Danny.

  10. I really loved that Brubaker/Fraction/Aja Iron Fist book. I was so disappointed when Fraction moved off to do books I didn’t care about (and frankly weren’t as good as his work on Iron Fist).