Both Shang-Chi and Iron Fist are master martial artists in Marvel Comics, but according to Black Panther, one of them reigns supreme. Unfortunately for Danny Rand, Shang-Chi’s fighting skills are unmatched, and the champion of K’un-Lun would have a difficult time getting the upper hand against him in a fight.
Trained by his father to become a deadly assassin, Shang-Chi developed his fierce fighting prowess at a young age. Through years of practice, he gained complete control over his body, allowing him to achieve near superhuman feats of strength and resistance. Danny Rand also spent much of his early life building his martial arts skills, eventually earning the title of Iron Fist by defeating the legendary dragon known as Shou-Lao the Undying. This feat granted him the ability to channel his chi, allowing him to enhance his strength, his speed, his senses, and more beyond their human limitations. Despite improving upon his already impressive competence in combat, however, Iron Fist’s powers still don’t put him on an even playing field with Shang-Chi, at least according to some of his fellow heroes.
When it comes to fighting skills, T’Challa is no slouch, and he can certainly recognize others’ proficiencies. In Black Panther #11, by Reginald Hudlin, Scot Eaton, Klaus Janson, Dean White, and Randy Gentile, the King of Wakanda is attacked by ninjas sent by Shang-Chi’s father, Zheng Zu, the leader of the Five Weapons Society. Joined by Luke Cage, Black Panther makes his way to this villain’s base of operations, only to find that Zheng Zu wishes for T’Challa to marry his daughter. Black Panther rejects this request, pushing Zheng Zu into a fit of rage, at which point Shang-Chi steps in. Luke, who has no idea who this newcomer is, asks T’Challa about Shang-Chi. Surprised to hear that Danny hasn’t mentioned him before, Black Panther answers, “I mean no disrespect to your friend Iron Fist – his ‘chi’ is very powerful – but Shang Chi is the Master of Kung Fu.” Luke responds in defense of Danny, but Black Panther implies that, while both are highly regarded in the “martial arts community,” Shang-Chi is in a league of his own.
Anyone who has faced Shang-Chi knows his expertise is unparalleled, but such high praise from a hero like Black Panther only adds to his reputation. Other famous heroes, including Captain America, have also mentioned how impressive Shang-Chi’s skills are, further proving his place among Marvel’s martial arts masters. Even the official Marvel Power Grid has confirmed that Shang-Chi is a better fighter than Danny Rand, ranking his fighting skills at the highest possible score of seven, compared to the Iron Fist’s rank of six. Still, Iron Fist’s powers would help his odds in a skirmish against his fellow hero. Although Danny might not be able to take Shang-Chi down, he’s proven in Ed Brisson, Mike Perkins, Andy Troy, and Travis Lanham’s Iron Fist #7 that he can at least fight Shang-Chi to a standstill, which is more than most could claim.
Either way, an all-out brawl between Danny Rand and Shang-Chi would be intense. They’re both well prepared for nearly any confrontation and their unique training would ensure that they could each hold their own against one another, at least for a little while. The power of the Iron Fist does give Danny an edge, as his strikes would certainly hit harder, but Shang-Chi’s finesse would likely help him to not only avoid taking any major damage, but also deal a few extra blows. It’s difficult to say with complete certainty who would end up winning. According to Black Panther, though, Iron Fist is good, but there’s no beating Shang-Chi.