Daniel Rand is the son of Wendell Rand, who had, as a youth, visited the mystic city of K'un-Lun, which materialized in the Himalayas once a decade; founded roughly a million years ago by extraterrestrials, K'un-Lun was co-ruled by the aliens' descendants and powerful beings called the Dragon Kings, who were themselves subject to the godlike sorcerer Master Khan. Rand had saved the life of K'un-Lun's ruler Lord Tuan, who adopted Rand as his heir, to the resentment of Tuan's son, Yu-Ti. During his time in K'un-Lun, Rand married a woman named Shakari and fathered a daughter, Miranda Rand-K'ai. At some point, Rand won ritual combat against Davos, son of K'un-Lun's greatest warrior, Lei Kung the Thunderer, which entitled him to claim the power of Shou-Lao the Undying, a man transformed into a mystic serpent over a thousand years ago by the Dragon King Chiantang; however, although great K'un-Lun warriors had periodically wielded Shou-Lao's power as the Iron Fist, Rand declined the power. Ten years after coming to K'un-Lun, Rand was showing Shakari the restored nexus when Yu-Ti's men attacked them. Shakari was slain, and the grief-stricken Rand returned to Earth. Within a year, he became a successful businessman and married Heather Duncan. In his absence, Lord Tuan died and became ruler of Feng-Tu, abode of K'un-Lun's departed spirits, leaving Yu-Ti to rule K'un-Lun, while Lei Kung, shamed by Davos' defeat, banished his son to Earth.
When Daniel Rand was nine, at roughly the time K'un-Lun was scheduled to materialize, his father decided to bring him and Heather to K'un-Lun. Accompanied by Rand's business partner Harold Meachum, they traveled to the Himalayas, but Wendell fell from a mountain ledge; clutching the edge, he called to Meachum for help, but Meachum, hoping to control Rand's business shares, caused Wendell to plunge to his death. Shortly afterward, Heather sacrificed her life to protect Daniel from a wolf pack, and her spirit ascended to Feng-Tu. The denizens of K'un-Lun found Daniel and took him in, while a frostbite-crippled Meachum learned of Daniel's survival and spent the next decade preparing elaborate defenses against future attack.
Vowing to avenge his parents, Daniel Rand studied martial arts under Lei Kung while growing up in K'un-Lun. His closest friends were Miranda Rand-K'ai, whom he did not know was his half-sister, and a K'un-Lun boy named Conal D'hu-Tsien. At nineteen, Rand requested and earned an opportunity to win the power of the Iron Fist by confronting Shou-Lao the Undying, whose power resided within a flaming brazier. Rand slew Shou-Lao, a feat no other warrior had ever accomplished, and plunged his hands into the brazier, imbuing himself with the mystic energy of the Iron Fist. Unknown to Rand, Shou-Lao's death angered Chiantang, who sought to destroy K'un-Lun in response but was imprisoned by Master Khan. Shortly afterward, Rand fought off jealous peers with the aid of Conal and Miranda, whom Conal had taught martial arts in defiance of K'un-Lun law. Fleeing K'un-Lun, Miranda and Conal were captured by K'un-Lun's ancestral enemies, the plant-beings called the H'lythri, and presumed dead. The dimensional nexus opened on schedule, and Rand, as Iron Fist, traveled to New York, seeking vengeance on Meachum. He overcame Meachum's defenses, but on seeing Meachum was an invalid, he spared the broken man.
Meachum was instead slain by the ghostly Ninja, a servant of Master Khan. Blamed for the murder, Iron Fist eventually cleared himself with the help of two private detectives he befriended, samurai-trained Colleen Wing and cyborg ex-cop Misty Knight. Nonetheless, Iron Fist often had hostile relations with his new business partners, Meachum's brother, Ward, and daughter, Joy. Iron Fist's adventures continued against the likes of the Cult of Kara-Kai, worshippers of the goddess Kali; Warhawk, a war veteran turned assassin empowered by a process similar to that of Luke Cage; and the alien robot known as the Monstroid. In the process, he learned that the Ninja was using Colleen Wing's father, Lee, as a host; Iron Fist ended this magical possession.
Soon afterward, Iron Fist fought the Steel Serpent, a master martial artist specializing in the delayed death touch. The Serpent had twice in the past been defeated by Yu-Ti in attempts to take over K'un Lun, and he fell victim to his own power during his assault on Iron Fist. Rand then encountered a woman named Jade and defended her from agents of Dhasha Khan, a demonic warrior sorcerer who had conquered Feng-Tu; however, more of Khan's agents abducted Iron Fist and Jade, whom Iron Fist learned was the embodiment of humanity's nobility, her soul bonded with the cosmic Firebird. Iron Fist was defeated by Khan's enslaved warrior, the Silver Dragon, while Khan used his mystic Soulgem to rob Jade of the Firebird, which he used to transform Earth. Iron Fist defeated the Silver Dragon and discovered she was the spirit of his mother, Heather Rand. Iron Fist then defeated Khan in battle, using the Soulgem to restore Earth and return his mother to a peaceful afterlife. Although he had fallen in love with Jade and wished she could remain mortal, he knew that humanity needed the Firebird, and he used the Soulgem to restore Jade.
Over the next few months, Iron Fist became a noted crimefighter and clashed with enemies such as Master Khan, Scimitar, Chaka, the Wrecking Crew, and Sabretooth. He sometimes worked with other heroic martial artists such as the Sons of the Tiger, the White Tiger, and Shang-Chi, the latter helping him save K'un-Lun from the sorcerer Quan-St'ar. Iron Fist then faced Davos, Lei Kung's banished son, who sought to steal the Iron Fist power. Also calling himself Steel Serpent, Davos briefly succeeded in usurping the power before losing it back to and being defeated by Iron Fist; his soul was imprisoned within the alien Contemplator's Anomaly Gem.
Iron Fist became Misty Knight's lover; he defended her from Luke Cage, a super-strong mercenary blackmailed into serving Knight's enemy, Bushmaster. Iron Fist, Knight, and Colleen Wing helped Cage break Bushmaster's hold, and Iron Fist soon formed a partnership with Cage as Heroes for Hire, taking assignments as bodyguards and private investigators. While Iron Fist and the cynically down-to-earth Cage were very different, they shared a dedication to justice and became best friends. Soon, Iron Fist and Cage confronted Master Khan, whom they pursued to K'un-Lun. Reunited with Lei Kung, Iron Fist was appalled to learn that the population had been decimated by the H'ylthri, and he and Cage led K'un-Lun's remaining warriors against their foes; however, Iron Fist's time on Earth had changed him, and he became disillusioned by K'un-Lun's regimented culture. He was then captured by his adoptive uncle, Yu-Ti, who hoped to use him to appease Master Khan; however, even Khan feared the full power of the Iron Fist and was threatened into releasing his enemies. Iron Fist destroyed the mystic emerald that stabilized K'un-Lun's link to Earth, making future interfaces unpredictable, then returned to New York with Cage. Khan himself became trapped on Earth and was unable to prevent Chiantang from escaping and almost destroying K'un-Lun.
Khan later enlisted Ward Meachum, Cage's enemies Shades and Comanche, and Fera in a plot against Iron Fist; Fera was actually one of the wolves who had slain Heather Rand, granted human form via the magical power of Shirrair and enslaved by Master Khan. Khan used the Power Gem of Quon to steal Iron Fist's power and life force, nearly killing him; but with the aid of Cage, Misty, Colleen, the vigilante el Aguila, and policeman Rafe Scarfe, Iron Fist regained his power and banished Khan again. Many months later, Iron Fist and Cage befriended Bobby Wright, a troubled boy who could transform into the superhuman Captain Hero; unknown to them, "Wright" was the Super-Skrull, a powerful alien whom Master Khan had mesmerized into befriending Iron Fist. Meanwhile, Khan himself usurped the form of police officer Tyrone King and began romancing Misty Knight to undermine his enemy.
Shortly afterward, Iron Fist was exposed to deadly radiation and, accompanied by Cage and Wing, he returned to K'un-Lun. Instructed in the use of his healing power by Lei Kung, Iron Fist learned that Chiantang's attack had been in response to Shou-Lao's death and became overwhelmed with guilt, but recovered with the help of his friends, who banished Chiantang. Preparing to return to Earth, Iron Fist was secretly ambushed by the H'ylthri, who sent a duplicate, believing itself to be Iron Fist, in his place. As for Chiantang, he too appeared on Earth, where Khan, as Tyrone King, slew him; however, even Khan was unaware of the H'ylthri's substitution. Shortly afterward, the Iron Fist duplicate attempted to heal "Bobby Wright", who was supposedly dying; the attempt seemed successful, but "Wright" suffered a relapse and, as Captain Hero, beat the duplicate to death in a rage. Khan, believing his enemy dead, then dismissed the Super-Skrull and eventually abandoned his King identity, leaving Cage to take the blame for the death of "Iron Fist".
For months the true Iron Fist remained the H'ylthri's captive, but when the Super-Skrull impersonated Iron Fist himself, Knight and Wing learned that the "Iron Fist" they had buried had reverted to plant-like remains. Following the Super-Skrull's defeat by Namor the Sub-Mariner, Knight and Wing brought Namor to K'un-Lun, where they rescued Iron Fist. Soon afterward, Iron Fist helped Cage defeat Bushmaster again, but while Cage was pleased to see his friend alive, he was uninterested in re-forming Heroes for Hire. When Master Khan vengefully rendered Namor amnesiac, Iron Fist helped Knight and others find Namor, restore his memory and confront Khan, whom Namor apparently slew.
Iron Fist went on to aid other heroes against threats such as the mystic Legion of Vengeance, the feral mutant Sabretooth, and the forces of the mutated serial killer Carnage. When Rand began to lose faith in himself, the Contemplator realized Iron Fist's inner turmoil was upsetting the cosmic balance through his link to Shou-Lao's power. He had Iron Fist reassemble the Anomaly Gem, shattered during the H'ylthri invasion; this resurrected the Steel Serpent, who stole Rand's power and tried to conquer K'un-Lun. Given new purpose per the Contemplator's plan, Iron Fist battled Steel Serpent and reclaimed his power, then renewed his relationship with Misty Knight. Months later, when New York's most prominent super heroes were seemingly slain by the psychic entity Onslaught, Iron Fist resolved to give the world hope and mystically bound himself to K'un-Lun, hoping to bring it to Earth and remake the world.
After Namor the Sub-Mariner's Oracle, INC bought out Rand-Meachum, Iron Fist gained funding and formed an expanded version of Heroes for Hire to renew people's confidence in heroes. This team reunited him with Cage, though the group proved to be temporary; the members were less than pleased when Namor sold Oracle (and by extension Heroes for Hire) to Stark-Fujikawa. After their new employers fired Cage and Ant-Man (Scott Lang) for their prison records, the remaining members disbanded. Weeks later, Iron Fist was manipulated into stealing the powerful Zodiac Key by Death Sting, actually Miranda Rand-K'ai, who, along with Conal, had been pressed into H'ylthri service. Iron Fist fought the pair and their H'ylthri masters, and both Death Sting and Conal were believed slain, although Death Sting survived.
Meanwhile, the heroes supposedly slain by Onslaught had returned, and Iron Fist, belatedly realizing that humanity would reject rule by K'un-Lun, sought to stop the process he had begun; but young Hand assassin Junzo Muto stole his power in order to bring K'un-Lun to Japan. Heather Rand's spirit told Iron Fist that Muto could not succeed without him, leaving K'un-Lun to move on to an unknown fate. Unwilling to risk K'un-Lun's destruction, Iron Fist teamed with Wolverine, Yu-Ti and others to defeat Muto, but not before K'un-Lun began to merge with the city of Tokyo. Yu-Ti then stabbed Iron Fist, reasoning that his death would un-merge the cities. K'un-Lun indeed returned to its proper place, but Iron Fist was met in Feng-Tu by his proud parents, who restored him to life.
Back in New York, former Heroes for Hire foe Nightshade resurrected Chiantang to use him against her current enemy, the Black Panther. Chiantang turned on her, re-empowered Iron Fist, and mentally enslaved him to fight the Panther, but Iron Fist regained his senses and helped defeat Chiantang. Returning to crimefighting, he found it unsatisfying and left New York to seek a new path. Yet all paths, it seemed, led back to K'un-Lun, for he soon faced Chi, a sorcerer exiled from K'un-Lun a millennium before, who hoped to use Iron Fist's unique bond to K'un-Lun for conquest. Iron Fist defeated Chi, accepting his heroic role anew.
Danny's recently come back into the spotlight, taking up the mantle of Daredevil while Matt Murdock was incarcerated.
With the recent passage of Superhuman Registration Act, Danny has chosen to not register and is considered an enemy of the state. When a chinese business man shows interest in a contract with the Rand company, Danny becomes suspicious and ends up badly battered after a fight with Hydra. He then feels someone else using the power of the Iron Fist, and meets his predecessor, Orson Randall, who informs him that he not only knew his father, but taught him as well. He follows Orson down to his father's secret subway station and is given the Book of the Iron Fist. He is told that the history and truth of his title is in this book, and that it will prepare him for the Tournament of the Heavenly cities. After a massive fight with the Steel Serpent, Orson sacrifices himself, but before he breaths his last, he alows Danny to touch his heart and take his chi. Danny rises to fight the Steel Serpent as equals, now with the powers of Orson Randall within him. As the fight comes to a stalemate, Danny is summoned back to K'un-Lun by his master Lei Kung for the tournament.