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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Daniel Rand
Iron Fist
of Heroes for Hire


Daniel Rand, known as "Iron Fist," is a supremely skilled martial artist who also has a "super-power": the ability to summon powerful mystic or psychic energy dispersed through his first.

Discussion

From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):

07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
wonderfly

What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?

I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...


07-18-2002, 01:30 PM
Machina

This is a discussion I've had several times with my friends, and usually I step out of it when it turns offensive. (Which with my friends, it always does!) Thing to remember though that until recently, like the past decade, religion and talks of such were verboten in most main stream comic books. Now that's changed...

Let's see...

...Daniel "Iron Fist" Rand is a Buddhist and Magneto is Jewish...

From: "The Corner" (letter column), published in National Review Online, 29 July 2002 (http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/2002_07_28_corner-archive.asp#85293899; viewed 12 May 2006):
ARRRRGGHH!!!!
[Jonah Goldberg]
Posted 2:08 PM

Email box ...filling with...comic geeknesssss...losing...consciousness. A few quick points... let's just stipulate that all superheroes with "occult" or cultish powers -- Dr. Strange, the Iron Fist... and even the Juggernaut... etc. are not pure secular humanists.

From: "Christian Superheroes" thread started 30 August 1992 on rec.arts.comics newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics/browse_thread/thread/d4f9b151adf6039c/bca0d7673c1ff593; viewed 21 June 2006):
From: David VanDomelen
Date: Mon, Aug 31 1992 1:32 pm

...I think a big reason why comics avoid Christian superheroes (ones who get their power from God) is... Also, a truly Christian hero would try to avoid conflict, turn the other cheek, etc... it is too passive for an action-oriented medium like comics. Jewish mysticism has things like Golems that can form the basis of an action story, and most pagan religions have alot of warrior aspects. Eastern mysticism allows for heroes in the Shang Chi and Iron Fist mold, since no matter how reluctant they may be to fight, the martial training of many Eastern sects is there to be used...

From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):

06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
TheToileteer

You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...

So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? A lot of them are "weird" ones associated with exotic fantasy. Several decades ago, comic book writers could be fairly sure that none of their readers would know or be Tibetan Buddhists, Kali devotees, Voodoo practitioners, or Gypsies, so they felt free to make up details out of whole cloth, or portray some religions as wicked. Today this is no longer possible. Recall the Hindu reaction to Krishna's appearance on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (as a villain)...

Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's... Then suddenly a number of characters were revealed as being of Roman Catholic background (Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, Punisher), or occasionally Jewish (Thing, though he is predated by minor characters Doc Samson, Sabra, Kitty Pryde, and Justice)...

In these cases, religions were still mainly used as shorthand. A number of non-heroic examples would fit the description of "religious leader turns out to be an evil-doer" (e.g."God Loves, Man Kills", or the Six-Fingered Hand or the cult of Joshua from Defenders). These too are fairly obvious targets (Protestant evangelists, cult leaders) from the point of view of the pop culture. Some positive (but highly "orientalized") images of Asian religions come to us via Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Karma from the X-Men (remember the appearance of the yin/yang emblem from her origin?) and even Wolverine... Note the different treatment with Western religions, which are more "ordinary" and generally lack magic powers...


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