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History says that the Iron Fist and The Hand are mortal enemies but I wonder, in the spirit of change, perhaps we could be something different. Last night showed me the truth: K'un-Lun did not send you to hunt us down. You left of your own free will because you wanted to be Danny Rand. So why not enjoy the life you traveled so far for. I need your company, but the spoils are for you to enjoy. Buy a yacht, eat at fancy restaurants with your friends - like Claire Temple or Colleen Wing. Stop your war! This city is no place for the Iron Fist! You're a businessman now, and this is the best offer you are ever going to get...
~ Madame Gao tries to make a deal with Danny

Madame Gao is an antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in the Netflix series Marvel's Daredevil and returning as a major antagonist in the first season of Marvel's Iron Fist and Marvel's The Defenders.

Despite her small stature and her old age, Gao is a shrewd crime lord and a leader of The Hand. She runs most of the heroin trade in New York City and eventually teams up with Wilson Fisk's criminal empire. However, after major setbacks by the interference of Daredevil in addition to Fisk losing his nerve due to his love for Vanessa Marianna, Gao and Leland Owlsley, another partner of Fisk's decide to assassinate Vanessa to get Fisk back on track. After this fails, Gao leaves the country to evade retaliation but returns to her operation after Fisk has been imprisoned. However, this time she is opposed by Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, who wants to clear his company Rand Enterprises from any influence The Hand has. This puts him at odds with Gao, as the company has strategic value to her.

She was portrayed by Wai Ching Ho.

Biography

Past

Gao hails from K'un-Lun and was one of the five heretics. After the Elders of K'un-Lun decided to study the Chi in order to heal, the heretics decided that this power was better used to regenerate themselves and thus achieve immortality. For this heresy, Gao and the other heretics Alexandra, Murakimi, Sowande and Bakuto were banished from K'un-Lun indefinitely. Together, they formed the organization known as The Hand - each of them leading a factions that operates autonomously. Alexandra was their leader from the beginning and after they dispersed, each member returned to their homeland where they built their reputation and power over the time of generations. At some point, Gao led a failed rebellion against Alexandra which was supported by at least some of the other heretics.

During the seventeenth century, Gao allegedly spent most of the time being interrogated which built up a natural immunity to most toxins inside her.

Gao became an associate of the Hand and is one of its oldest members. Eventually, she decided to expand The Hand's drug business and created a criminal empire by selling heroin. To expand her business even further, she intended to use the company Rand Enterprises to her own benefits and planned to propose a deal to the company owner Wendell Rand. By making contact with Wendell's wife, whom she found easy to manipulate, Gao eventually got into contact with Wendell as well. After the contacts were made, Gao approached Wendell and his business partner Harold Meachum. She proposed a partnership but Wendell refused to have anything to do with her drug business. However, Harold was more than willing to work with Gao. Through Harold, Gao was able to manufacture heroin in a Rand Enterprises facility in China.

Eventually, Wendell started suspecting that something was off and Harold feared that he would ruin everything should he find out the truth. Harold hatched a plan to kill the Rands and came to Gao for poison. Gao provided Harold with the poison Harold later used on the Rand pilots. Although Gao tried to talk Harold out of murdering the Rands, she made no effort of actually preventing the Rands' deaths, instead giving him the poison anyways. While on a business trip to China, the Rands' private plane pilots succumb to the poison that Harold gave them, causing it to crash into the Himalayan mountains and leaving the world to assume them all dead.

When Harold was about to die of cancer, Gao offered him a way out in return for service. Harold agreed to conditions and after he succumbed to his illness, The Hand resurrected him. Harold, now indebted to The Hand, was confined to a spacious penthouse apartment - under constant observance of The Hand. Through his son Ward, Harold maintained influence over Rand Enterprises and Gao used this influence to have Rand Enterprises buy lands or assets of strategic importance to her organization.

Marvel's Daredevil

Madame Gao is part of Wilson Fisk's criminal empire, having assisted him in building up his enterprise with his assistant James Wesley, and worked alongside Nobu Yoshioka's Hand faction, a gang run by Leland Owlsley, and the Russian mafia headed by Vladimir and Anatoly Ranshakov. Her heroin manufacturing group was known as the "Steel Serpent" to her partners, and led them all to assume that she could only speak Chinese, never once speaking English around any of them and instead making sure a translator was at hand.

Questioning Fisk's Allegiance

Crime Cartel

Madame Gao with her partners Nobu, Leland, James Wesley and the Ranshakov brothers.

In a closed-off building in Hell's Kitchen, Gao met with Leland and Nobu, and they awaited Fisk, who was coming any second. Leland noticed that Nobu didn't seem to be bothered by the coldness of the night, and Gao said that anyone with blood on their hands will stay forever warm. Wesley arrived in Fisk's place, apologizing to them on Fisk's behalf and saying that he was too busy with his own work: he addressed Gao more directly due to him and Fisk respecting her a great deal. Owlsley complained about Fisk not being here and the Ranshakov brothers called Wesley a lapdog. Wesley explained that the reason Fisk's business with them is being more difficult is because of a masked vigilante simply known as the Masked Man (Daredevil). Gao addresses Wesley in Mandarin so the others couldn't understand her, asking him if the Masked Man took their female hostages for himself. The Ranshakov brothers say that the Masked Man had freed them instead. She stayed silent while Wesley and the Ranshakov brothers argued even more and started going at each other's throats.

At a later meeting elsewhere, this time without either of the Ranshakovs present, Gao and Owlsley waited patiently for Fisk to come greet them. Leland tells her that he saw a car outside being cleaned of blood, which Gao laughed at. Wesley arrives with Fisk, who tells them that the Russians are no longer part of their organization, having murdered Anatoly last night for an undisclosed person reason, which angered the group: it was Anatoly's blood and remains being cleaned out of the car outside. Nobu and Gao questioned Fisk's reasons for killing Anatoly, but Fisk simply tells them that they will still assist the Russian mafia in their distribution of Gao's Steel Serpent heroin, at least until Fisk can take over their distribution for himself. They reluctantly agreed to Fisk's request, and Fisk walked Gao to her car.

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Gao and Fisk drink tea, while Wesley watches.

Gao finds the location of Fisk's penthouse in the city and goes to confront him personally. Fisk welcomes her in and gives her tea brought over from his recent trip to China, which they both drink. Gao starts talking to Fisk in English, which surprised both Fisk and Wesley, and claims that she can actually speak "all" languages. She tells Wesley that he doesn't need to translate anything and tells him to leave, which he does. Gao speaks to Fisk in Mandarin, which he speaks and understands fluently, about his handling of recent events, calling him emotional and sloppy. Before leaving, she warns him that, if he doesn't get his act together, she'll start dealing Steel Serpent to Leland and Nobu directly.

"There is conflict within you."
"Conflict?"
"Man cannot be both savior and oppressor, light and shadow. One has to be sacrificed for the other. Choose, and choose wisely, or others will choose for you."
―Madame Gao and Wilson Fisk.

On a rooftop garden elsewhere, Gao approaches Fisk sitting alone, commenting on Wesley's absence. They speak in Mandarin, with Gao telling Fisk a story about a prideful snake from her home village that, too stubborn and too sensitive, tried to bite and kill an elephant, but it failed, instead suffering for a long time and eventually dying. Fisk questioned if he was meant to be the snake or the elephant in the story, and Gao tells him that she was disappointed to hear of Nobu being killed by the Masked Man the other night. She warns Fisk that the Hand is preparing for full-on retaliation, but Fisk assures her that she has his respect. She tells him that she knows about his new love, Vanessa Marianna, and asks him if he can become either New York City's savior or oppressor. Realizing that Fisk was getting sloppy and that his relationship with Vanessa could be a danger to business, Gao and Leland decide to have her poisoned at a public art gallery. Despite that Vanessa drank the poison, she survived and was rushed to a hospital, with Fisk wanting to find out who did this.

The Masked Man

Whilst in a warehouse watching her blind servants cook up her Steel Serpent product, Gao spots the Masked Man snooping around inside, and she orders her guards to kill him. While the guards surrounded the Masked Man, Gao tried to flee with two guards, only for the Masked Man to appear before her and beat up her guards. One of the guards' bullets ends up hitting a barrel full of chemicals, which causes a fire to break out: however, Gao stayed in place, awaiting the Masked Man. He questions her on her use of blind people to create her heroin, but she says that her men blinded themselves on purpose out of faith in her mission, and with her enterprise crumbling around them, their faith had been lost. The Masked Man questions her on Fisk, at which point she strikes him in the chest and knocks him over, departing without a trace while the rest of the warehouse burns down. The Masked Man manages to escape.

The Future

With her business too damaged to recover so easily as Fisk's, Gao finds her way to Leland, telling him in English that the Masked Man has destroyed her business. Leland suggests using other forms of heroin for selling, but Gao says that her ambition wasn't to simply sell drugs. They discussed Fisk probably discovering that they had poisoned Vanessa, but right now, he was under the impression that he was the intended target. Leland asks her if the recent death of Wesley was her doing, but she says that she didn't, since he respected her too much for her to want to do it. Knowing that Fisk would learn the truth eventually, Gao tells Leland that she is going to head for a place "beyond the mountains" (presumably K'un L'un) and leaves, not making contact with Leland afterwards. Leland was later killed by Fisk, who was later arrested, had a fight with the Masked Man, and was defeated.

The Blacksmith

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Gao is confronted by Daredevil, telling him that she never left New York at all after Fisk's downfall.

In reality, Gao never actually left New York at all, and instead retreated back into the shadows, slowly building up her drug empire again. She faced problems with a rival dealer known only as the "Blacksmith". She is eventually confronted by the Masked Man, now known as "Daredevil" and dressed in a sleeker red armor, and threatened to tell the police where she is if she doesn't tell him about the Blacksmith.

Gao explains to Daredevil that the Blacksmith has been killing her distributors and messing up her hard-earned business ventures, and Daredevil promises that he can get rid of him tonight if she'll tell him where he is. She directs him to the New York Harbor, where the Blacksmith has a ship docked, and warns him that it'll be heavily-guarded. He thanks her and leaves.

Marvel's Iron Fist

Visiting Harold

After Harold Meachum has found out that Danny Rand is still alive, he leaves his penthouse to find out whether the person that has come to New York is truly Danny. When Harold comes back to the penthouse, he finds a message by The "Hand"-written on his window, revealing that The Hand knows that Harold left the penthouse.

The next night, Madame Gao and other members of The Hand infiltrate Harold's penthouse. They cut the lights and Gao speaks to Harold from the shadows, causing him to drop his glass in fear. Gao tells him that The Hand is disappointed and that his loyalty has been questioned. Harold is shocked and afraid, but tries to make clear that he is still loyal to Gao and The Hand. Gao confronts him with the fact that he left the penthouse and he tells her about Danny Rand, claiming that he is an impostor and that he had to deal with the subject himself. Gao reminds him of their agreement and tells him that he has to follow it to the letter, else while there will be consequences. After asserting her dominance by forcing him to kneel in the glass shards, Gao leaves the horrified Harold alone.

HaroldSeesDaughter

Gao allows Harold to see his daughter

The Hand later orders Harold to make sure Rand Enterprises acquires a certain pier and Harold tells his son Ward. Ward makes sure that the company buys the pier. The same evening, Gao and a few of her associates enter Harold's penthouse and throw a hood in front of his feet. Ordering him to put it over his head, Gao then tells him that they will go for a ride. They take Harold. Once they have arrived at their destination, Gao has the hood removed from Harold's head. She tells him that he has been a faithful servant and that for his part in securing the pier, he will be rewarded. Henchmen then remove the curtains from a nearby window and Harold realizes that the apartment next to the building they are in is that of Joy, Harold's daughter. For the first time in twelve years, Harold can see his daughter.

However, he then sees that someone had previously hit Joy. Gao reveals that Joy had been attacked by some criminals but that Danny protected her. Nonetheless, Harold is outraged and asks whether Gao will fulfill her "faithful servant" one last wish. The wish is granted and Harold, together with other masked members of The Hand, is permitted to storm the restaurant of the Triads that attacked Joy and personally executes the triad member who struck Joy. After justice has been served, Harold announces that he is now ready to go back home; to captivity.

Shipment attacked

The Hand then starts a new operation in New York. They have a completely new kind of synthetic heroin shipped in through the pier and distribute it into the city. The news eventually reach Danny. In addition, Harold has revealed to Danny that he is alive because as Iron Fist, Danny is a sworn enemy of the Hand. Harold has managed to draw Danny to his side and help him defeat the Hand and Danny starts investigating The Hand's business in New York City.
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Gao executes King

Eventually, Danny infiltrates a Hand shipment at the pier, he is accidentally imprisoned in one of their trucks. Inside the truck he finds the chemist The Hand blackmails in order to produce their new heroin. Danny is attacked by King, a henchman of The Hand, but manages to defeat King and escapes with the scientist.

King is later confronted by Madame Gao and is forced to admit his failure. He reveals to her that Danny was a skilled fighter and managed to punch open the truck door with his bare hands. Gao gets suspicious at that, asking King whether it was both hands or merely Danny's fist. King is not sure and Gao orders him to kneel in front of her. Once King is on his knees, Gao steps behind him, draws a hidden blade from her cane and rams it through the back of King's skull, executing him for his failure.

Duel between Danny and The Hand

Danny continues tracking down the Hand, who kidnapped the scientist's daughter in order to blackmail the man into producing the heroin. In a warehouse of the Hand, Danny eventually finds the truck that carried the scientist. Inside is the severed head of King and an invitation for a duel.
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Gao watches the duel between Danny and her men

Danny accepts the Hand's invitation and heads to the place described on the invite. There, he claims to accept the challenge under the condition that Sabina is freed if he wins. Also, the Hand has to leave Rand Enterprises. After Danny has given his conditions, Madame Gao emerges from the shadows. She welcomes him with honor and tells him that her master agrees to Danny's terms. However, should he lose the duel but remain alive, he has to stay away of all business The Hand has in New York. Danny agrees. Both then wash their hands in the small stone pond in the middle of the room, according to tradition, and Gao leads Danny into a back room two warriors of The Hand wait. By slamming her cane to the ground, Gao signals the beginning of the fight and then watches as the battle begins. Danny wins the fight and Gao announces that the first battle is won. She then turns around and walks off, leaving Danny with his two unconscious combatants.

Danny follows Gao who brings him into another dark room, one that is covered in frost and mist and has rags hanging from the ceiling. This time, Danny's combatant also drugs him - making the battle even more uneven. Nonetheless, Danny wins the fight and Gao announces Danny's second victory. As Danny is still affected by the poison, Gao gives him the chance to withdraw but Danny claims that he will not leave without the girl. Without pressing the matter any further, Gao leads Danny to the next challenge.

Gao leads him to yet another room. After Danny has entered it, Gao closes the door behind him and locks it. She enters through another door a short time later, just in time to witness Danny using his Iron Fist powers against his opponent. She watches with amusement. Danny defeats this fighter as well and is even ready to kill him. However, he then sees Gao holding a blade to the throat of the chemist's daughter. Gao orders him to stop, claiming that she will cut the girl's throat if Danny strikes down her warrior. She tells Danny that Sabina will be spared if Danny withdraws from the challenge. Danny is shocked, calling it dishonorable but Gao laughs at that and asks why she should care for honor. With no option, Danny agrees to withdraw from the duel. Gao then lets Sabina go and adds that she did not believe that she would ever meet another Iron Fist during her lifetime.
GaoHostage

Gao with her hostage

From her words, Danny realizes that there is more to Gao then he thought. He asks her who she is and she reveals that she originates from K'un-Lun. As she remembers K'un-Lun as a paradise, she is surprised that Danny left it to come to New York, adding that he did not initially come to destroy The Hand. As Danny and Sabina turn to leave, Gao claims that she is entertained by how Danny's mind works. Remarking that Danny is different from the K'un-Lun monks she remembers, Gao asks whether the place has changed. Danny claims that they still teach honor and Gao adds that she thought that Danny's father Wendell could have needed more of that. This causes Danny to sprint back at her, angrily demanding that she tells him what she was implying. However, Gao casually touches his chest which hurls Danny backwards several meters. Danny crashes into a wall and Gao walks off.

At Rand Enterprises

The next day, Danny is at Rand Enterprises talking with Joy Meachum when suddenly, Madame Gao steps out of the elevator. She enters Danny's office and he follows her immediately. Inside the office, Gao comments on the functionality of the room. Danny asks her how she got into the building but Gao comments that she has been in Rand Enterprises far longer than Danny himself. When Danny moves towards her, she shrewdly asks whether Danny would really attack an old woman in front of all his employees - given that he is in enough trouble as it is. She mentions that Danny is not the first Iron Fist she met and Danny asks whether this is the reason why she is using the Iron Fist symbol minus the dragon on her heroin packages. She ignores Danny's question and continues her monologue, claiming that the other Iron Fists she knew were fierce and would have never backed down from a grand duel just because an innocent life was at stake.
GaoMeetsDanny

Gao visits Danny at Rand Enterprises

Danny then asks how Gao knew his father and Gao claims that, while has walked on this earth for a long time, the recent changes; including the arrival of Daredevil and Luke Cage and now an Iron Fist's departure from K'un-Lun; are very unusual. Because of these changes, Gao reveals that she wonders whether the feud between the Iron Fist and The Hand can be changed into something more productive as well. She adds that last night showed her the truth - K'un-Lun did not send Danny to hunt and destroy The Hand, he left of his own free will because he wanted to be Danny Rand and not the Iron Fist. She claims that he should do what he traveled so far for. She says that while she needs Danny's company, the spoils will be for Danny to enjoy. She mentions that Danny could use the luxury that would come his way to eat at fancy restaurants with his friends Claire Temple and Colleen Wing, indirectly threatening and revealing that she is aware how she can hurt Danny. However, despite her offer Danny repeats his question about his father and also asks whether she made him an offer too. Gao ignores the question and leaves the room, casually adding that Danny should not forget to water his plants. Gao then enters the elevator and uses a Rand Enterprises security card access to leave the floor.

Danny pursues her by jumping onto her elevator. Although Gao and her bodyguards hear the noise they brush it off. Gao steps off on the second floor, where she enters a conference room. In the room, a woman explains to her how they will be using Rand Enterprises trucks to smuggle their heroin into the entire eastern seaboard. The woman also tells Gao that the demand is higher than they initially expected and that they will be able to reach their sale goals within three months as long as the supply keeps up. Gao claims that quantity is not an issue, as the chemist is almost ready to give up his formula and that they then can start mass production. Gao asks whether there is anything else to discuss and when the woman denies it, Gao and her bodyguards leave. They are unaware that their entire conversation has been eavesdropped on by Danny, who interrogates the businesswoman after Gao is gone.

China

From the information gathered from the woman, Danny and Harold Meachum find out where Gao's lab is located. Together with the sole criminal organization in New York that still opposes The Hand, Danny and Colleen Wing attack the lab where they find the chemist, severely wounded. He reveals that he gave the heroin formula to Gao and that she is now able to mass produce the synthetic heroin. In addition, he reveals that Gao has gone to China. Gao is located at the Rand Enterprises in China Danny and his parents were supposed to visit when their plane crashed fifteen years ago. Danny decides to go after Gao. He also starts wondering whether Gao is responsible for his parents death as to prevent them from finding out that she was using their company for her crimes.

GaoSubmit

Gao orders Danny to surrender

Having arrived at China, Danny, Colleen and Claire head to the facility where they watch out for any sign of Gao. Eventually, Danny decides that he will not wait any longer and he and Colleen head inside while Claire remains outside to look out for intruders. Eventually, Claire sees Gao arrive at the factory gates with some of her henchmen but she has no way to contact Danny or Colleen. To warn them anyhow, Claire uses her car's horn. Although Danny and Colleen get the message, the sound warns Gao and her guards as well and she sends one henchman to look out for intruders.

Danny and Colleen evade the intruder and while Colleen heads back to help Claire, Danny continues following Gao. He sees her vanishing inside one of the buildings but when Danny attempts to follow her, he is confronted by a guard. As the warrior keeps provoking Danny during their fight, Danny falls into a fit of rage and almost beats the man to death. When Claire and Colleen arrive seconds later, Danny is horrified and claims that the though he had himself under control. The same moment, Gao and her bodyguards reveal themselves and Gao smugly claims that anger is a virtue and that she could teach Danny to control and use it. Danny ignores her remark and claims that he wants to know why his father had to die. He accuses Gao of having him killed because he wanted to shut down her operation. Gao does not answer the question, instead reminding Danny that he would not believe her denying it. She then orders Danny to submit to her without further incident and claims that she will grant Claire and Colleen swift and painless deaths. Danny states that he will die before Gao he lets Gao touch them but Gao claims that she cannot let Danny die just now. She then orders her bodyguards to murder the women. The henchmen attack but are defeated. However, during the fight one henchman accidentally stabs the other and from the man's fatal reaction, Danny realizes that the blades have been poisoned. Furthermore, the poison has the same effect Danny witnessed in the corpses of the dead pilots after the crash fifteen years ago, causing him to realize that they had been poisoned.

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Gao fears Danny's retaliation

Watching Danny coming to that conclusion, Gao suddenly shows signs of fear. A furious Danny jumps up and Gao stumbles backward but the wall behind her stops her from evading Danny's attack. However, Danny does not strike Gao but the wall next to her, reducing it to splinters. Danny then grabs Gao and forces her to come with them. With Gao as prisoner, Danny, Colleen, and Claire leave the facility. They manage to return to New York with Gao, where they imprison her at Colleen's dojo and tie her to a chair. Danny wants to interrogate her for information on his father but Colleen and Claire are worried about the dark path Danny is taking in his pursuit for answers. However, Danny remains determined to interrogate Gao.

Interrogation

At the dojo, Claire claims that they could simply give Gao up to the police but Danny states that Gao will go nowhere until he has the answers he needs. Danny then orders Gao to talk about his father and the Hand but Gao asks why Danny is asking about events that happened fifteen years ago when he has more pressing concerns in the present. Danny interrupts her and orders her to tell him what he wants to know but Gao merely asks what he will do if she does not obey. Danny throws his fist at her, stopping only moments before he strikes her face. However, Gao does not even flinch. Fed up with the path Danny is taking, Claire offers to create a truth serum if Danny brings her some chemicals. Danny and Colleen agree to the idea. None of them sees Gao laughing silently.
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Gao is a prisoner of Danny and co.

While Danny is gone obtaining the chemicals, Claire offers Gao a glass of water. Gao then shrewdly analyzes Claire, claiming that Claire fraternizes with special people like Daredevil, Luke Cage and Danny because she hopes some of their specialty rubs off on her. Gao adds that Claire failed each of the three in a different way. Gao claims that Claire is searching for her destiny but that it is selfish to involve Danny. Gao states that Danny has a higher calling and if Claire was supposed to be special, it would already have happened. Gao claims that the only thing that could come out of it for Claire is pain and sorrow and that Danny would understand if Claire left. Claire claims that she will not abandon Danny and Gao asks if she wouldn't even do so to save her mother, rhetorically asking how Claire knows that Gao's men are not paying her a visit the very moment. This upsets Claire strongly and she leaves the room. Gao then sees Colleen approaching and starts to torment her emotionally as well. She is far more successful with her, prying on Colleen's feelings for Danny and her warrior training.

After Claire has created the truth serum, she and Danny approach Gao. She bluntly tells Danny that something is coming his way that he is completely unprepared for. He sarcastically asks whether she has something more horrible than a dragon and a cave, referring to how he obtained his powers. However, when Gao laughingly exclaims that she has, Danny seems concerned for a moment. Nonetheless, he and Claire go through with the plan and inject Gao the serum. When asking Gao about Rand enterprises, Gao reveals that how she approached Wendell and Harold about a deal and how Harold accepted. However, the dosage of the serum makes her fall asleep before she can reveal more.

The same moment, Colleen comes busting into the room and collapses on the floor. When Danny and Claire rush to her side, they find out that she has been pierced by one of the bodyguard's poisoned blades back in China. Claire claims that for producing an antidote, she would have to know what poison Colleen is suffering from first. Claire mentions that Gao will not be a help as they just put her to sleep but suddenly, Gao laughs. She asks Danny if he really believed their drugs would affect her, stating that she spent most of the seventeenth century being interrogated. Danny asks her what poison Gao's men have been using but Gao claims that it is too late and that Colleen's time is up.

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Gao during the assault

Colleen tells Danny to call a number in her smartphone because said person would be able to help. Danny does so and leaves a message on the voice mail. While they wait for someone to show up, the light suddenly goes out and Gao exclaims that the time has come for Danny and his friends to die. Suddenly, the dojo is attacked by The Hand, who throw smoke and flashbang grenades before entering. Danny, Colleen, and Claire put up a fight and take down the attackers. After the assailants have been defeated, Gao tells Danny to look at Colleen. She claims that Colleen does not have long anymore and proposes a deal. If Danny delivers Gao to her people, she will provide Claire with an antidote to save Colleen. However, Danny instead listens to Colleen's advice and calls a number in Colleen's phone.

Eventually, a man called Bakuto turns up but Danny is reluctant to allow him to enter, claiming that he shouldn't have reached the dojo as there are enemies everywhere. Bakuto claims that he took care of Madame Gao's mercenaries. Interestingly, Bakuto's presence annoys Gao who claims that Bakuto has no business here and should leave. This causes Danny to trust Bakuto and he opens the door. Seeing Colleen on the floor, Bakuto claims that they should have called him sooner. He claims that only Danny can help Colleen because as the Iron Fist, he has the power to heal her. While Gao claims that Danny is falling into a trap he cannot escape, Bakuto beckons him to come closer and to focus his chi in his hand. Danny listens to Bakuto and follows his advise. Through Bakuto's instructions, Danny manages to save Colleen. However, the procedure also knocks out Danny. Suddenly, more of Bakuto's men turn up and they grab Danny and Gao. Together with Colleen, they enter a car and drive off, leaving Claire behind.

Bakuto's prisoner

They are all brought to Bakuto's academy where Gao is imprisoned in a building that is off-limits for students. There, Danny eventually finds her when he is exploring the academy. Gao is amused by Danny and provokes him even from captivity. When Danny claims that the only thing she has left are petty insults, Gao replies that she is treating him with respect by showing what she truly is, hinting that not everyone around him does the same. She claims that "they" are taking Danny's ability to trust and that this is how "they" crush people. When Danny asks how "they" are, Gao replies that she means The Hand. Danny asks what Gao means and Gao tells him to open his eyes, asking him what he believes where he is. The same moment, Bakuto arrives and disrupts the conversation. Bakuto, revealed to be the leader of a different faction of The Hand, later takes over Gao's business, making him the leader of both factions of The Hand.

After Bakuto has been killed and Danny has been blamed for the drug trafficking in Rand Enterprises by Harold Meachum, Danny has to prove his innocence. To do so, he and Colleen enter Bakuto's academy - now deserted - and enter the compound where Gao was held the last time Danny met her. Indeed, they find that Gao has been left in her cell while all others have fled. Danny once again contacts Gao over the monitor and mentions how The Hand just left Gao without food or water. Gao claims that she survived worse and that while she could have escaped, she did not want to miss Danny's arrival. Danny demands that Gao gives him access to all information that was on the tablet Danny stole weeks ago, intending to use it to prove his innocence, but Gao claims that she purged all data from her computers and that there is thus no copy left. Colleen calls her a liar but Gao replies that, in contrast to Colleen, she never lied to Danny.

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Danny and Colleen find Gao in her cell

Danny and Colleen then enter Gao's cell where Gao states that the reason Danny is such a poor Iron Fist is that Danny does not know his own path. She states that Danny's chi is blocked by guilt, guilt over the death of his parents. Danny says that this does not make sense but Gao continues, remembering Danny that he lived while his parents died and states that she assumes that Danny lay awake night after night wondering why he survived when his parents couldn't. She claims that this is the true reason Danny left K'un-Lun, Danny wanted to get revenge on who murdered his parents. Danny claims that he did not even know it was murder back then but Gao claims that even as a ten-year-old Danny was smart enough to realize that planes don't simply fall out of the sky. Danny asks her why he has not killed Gao already if what she says is true. Gao laughs and replies that this is because Danny knows that it wasn't her who killed his parents. She states that the true killer was someone far more treacherous as her and that she, in fact, wanted to talk the responsible killer out of it. Danny asks who would have killed his parents and Gao tells Danny to stop thinking like a child. Asking Danny who would benefit most from the death of the Rands, Gao causes Danny to realize that Harold was the true murderer.

Gao tells Danny about the night Harold came to her for poison. After telling Danny the story, Gao claims that Danny will only be able to become the true Iron Fist after he has killed Harold Meachum. Outraged and confused, Danny leaves the cell with Colleen. Before they close the cell, Colleen tells Gao to hope her minions find her before she rots. Gao simply claims that there is no way of locking the truth.

Gao is eventually freed. When Joy Meachum and Davos later meet in a cafe and discuss that Danny needs to be removed, Gao sits at the table next to them and smiles knowingly.

Marvel's The Defenders

Changing the Plan

Months later, Gao and the other leaders of the Hand have constructed a scheme to obtain something lying below New York City. After having been informed that a contact in the mayor's office has given the go ahead for the great plan the Hand has deviced in the last months, Gao meets Hand leader Alexandra at Central Park. Sitting next to her on the bench, Gao states that Alexandra always liked that park and Alexandra replies that it is a wonder that the park still exists and that humanity has not torn it down yet. After a brief conversation, Gao tells Alexandra that the contact at the mayor's office is ready and that it will take a few months until they can enter the final phase. However, Alexandra (who does not have that much time left) tells them that they need to advance their plans, which takes Gao aback.

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Gao meets with Alexandra

Gao warns Alexandra that it took great effort to arrange all and that advancing the plan will not go quiet or unnoticed. Alexandra claims that she is ready to take this risk and Gao promises to inform "the others". Alexandra then walks off and leaves it to Gao to finish feeding the birds. After meeting with the other partners and informing them about Alexandra's orders, Gao visits Alexandra again to inform her. She asks whether Alexandra is sure that this is the right way, but Alexandra dismisses her without answering.

A day later, Gao visits Alexandra again. This time, she informs her that there has been a problem with their plan - there is a wall in their way blocking their access. It is engraved with writings of K'un-Lun which seemingly cannot be torn down. Gao advises to rethink the plan and Alexandra replies that while Gao was always someone to quickly rethink, Alexandra is a bit more stubborn. Alexandra claims that if "they" wanted to keep "it" away from the Hand, they would have destroyed "it". Alexandra deduces that the wall is not a wall but a door and accordingly, it can be opened. As Gao begins to understand, Alexandra claims that sentiment like this was always the mistake of their ancient enemy. She also implies that she knows what is needed to open the door.

Battle against the Defenders

According to Alexandra's plan, Gao readies his troops for the fight against Iron Fist and his group. They arm themselves and drive to the restaurant Alexandra has cornered Iron Fist and his friends in. They arrive together with Sowande's crew and open fire at the restaurant while slowly advancing. However, when one of Sowande's men steps too far, Gao suddenly executes him because they want the Iron Fist alive. Sowande accepts this and does not seek retribution for the murder of his man.

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Gao pursues the Iron Fist

When the battle erupts, Gao ambushes Danny Rand from behind while he is fighting some of her men. With her advanced knowledge of chi and combat, she manages to knock him back several feet. She orders two of her men to finish him off but before they can do so, Jessica Jones and Stick arrive. The three flee through the exit and into the sewers, barricading the door behind them to prevent Gao and her men from following. The three remaining of Gao's men realizing that they cannot open the door and move aside ashamed to make room for Gao. Gao busts through the metal door with ease but the group is already gone. Outside, they only find Murakimi who has just regained consciousness. Gao asks where the group and the Black Sky have gone and Murakimi sourly states that this is something for their glorious leader to explain.

Distrusting Alexandra

While waiting for a conference of members of the Hand, Gao and Bakuto are the first ones to arrive. Given the bad history between the two, Bakuto asks whether they are on speaking terms. Gao replies that as long as they live, they will be on the same side. Pointing to a drawing of K'un-Lun on the table in the middle of the room, Gao melancholically asks Bakuto whether he remembers the city. Bakuto claims that he does and Gao reminds him that the only way they will get back there is by securing the Iron Fist. Gao sharply reminds Bakuto that their foremost goal is securing the Iron Fist, not Colleen Wing. After a brief bickering between the two, Alexandra enters the room, together with Murakimi. Bakuto greets Alexandra who cuts him off and claims that they will discuss his failure to capture a few bargaining chips later. Murakimi then informs the assembled leaders that Daredevil has joined the Iron Fist, unaware that Murdock and Daredevil are the same people.

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Gao, Murakami and Bakuto voice their concerns

Gao is shocked to hear this and asks if the news are true, given that Daredevil has not been sighted for months now. Murakimi confirms that this is true as he saw it with his own eyes. Bakuto is not impressed; while Daredevil might be a good fighter, the leaders of the Hand are too. Murakimi replies that it is not his fighting skill that worries him, but Daredevil's relationship with Elektra Natchios. Gao confirms that Elektra and Daredevil fought side by side but Murakimi claims that their bond was even stronger - they were in love. Thinking back to the moment that Elektra attacked him, Murakimi claims that she might not have been protecting her kill but her old love, which would mean that the Black Sky is not the empty vessel they were promised. Alexandra asks whether he believes that the Black Sky has failed them but Murakimi states that he believes that Alexandra herself has failed them. He claims that Alexandra made a wrong decision and because of that, they are all vulnerable now.

Alexandra states that she has never felt stronger than with Elektra by her side but Murakimi reminds her that all this is not about her but all of them together. Gao and Bakuto join in and remind Alexandra that they created the Hand so that the five fingers could work together. Gao states that they already lost Sowande but Alexandra assures them that he will be back. However, the others are unconvinced and Bakuto states that for the first time, death is a real possibility. Alexandra states that maybe this was what they all needed, a reminder that every one of them was expendable. The leaders reply that his counts for Alexandra as well and that they seem to have different goals. While Alexandra is afraid of dying, Murakimi, Gao and Bakuto simply want to live long enough to go home. Murakimi states that the time has come to make a plan without the Black Sky - or their "fearless leader".

After Sowande's head has been delivered to the Hand, Gao, Murakami and Bakuto are all shocked and angry by this loss, believing that they could have prevented it. After Alexandra holds a brief eulogy, she wants to return back to business while Gao and the others are still mournind. The three also get angry with Alexandra and themselves, claiming that they did not even try to find Sowande. Alexandra coldly states that they should not pretend to mourn Sowande, to the outrage of the other three who are honestly mourning their oldest friend. Alexandra reminds them that they should not act like their time together has all been peaceful, there has been fighting between Hand factions multiple times. Alexandra claims that now more than ever it is time to show unity. Murakami angrily replies that they were unified until Alexandra brought in the Black Sky. The three want to know where Elektra is and Alexandra, not telling them that Elektra has gone rogue, claims that she thought it would be best to have her isolated. Gao then breaks the argumentative disagreement, claiming that their goals are in alignment and that they should honor Sowande by fulfilling the future they planned together. Gao claims that Alexandra already has brought them far and that they should trust her to see the plan through till the end. Gao openly claims that she will keep following Alexandra.

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Gao talks to Alexandra

After the end of the conversation, Alexandra retreats to her room, having suffered more faintness fits due to her sickness. In her room, she is visited by Gao. Gao claims that after all the time they have known each other, Gao has never seen Alexandra like this. She claims that Alexandra's position is one of great power but it is also a burden as much as a blessing. Gao explains that this is why she has convinced Bakuto and Murakami to follow Alexandra's lead just now. Gao says that she has one condition, however, they will find and capture the Iron Fist without the Black Sky. Gao claims that their brothers speak the truth, the Black Sky has always been Alexandra's vision and Alexandra has failed with it. Alexandra is frustrated that the others do not see in the Black Sky what she sees in her, telling Gao that Elektra has a strength Gao or Alexandra can only dream of. Gao accepts that this might be the case, however, Murakami and Bakuto would never see that. Alexandra states that these two want her seat at the table and Gao accepts this smiling, claiming that just as Alexandra said, war between Hand factions has happened before. Alexandra sternly reminds Gao that Gao was the one to lead said revolt. Gao claims that the past is the past but right now, Gao might be Alexandra's only ally. She states that their mutual time is not over yet and that Alexandra should think about Gao's proposal, claiming that they could strike this very night.

However, after leaving Alexandra's room, Gao meets with Murakami and coldly tells him that he was right with his suspicions about Alexandra.

Capturing the Iron Fist

After Elektra has returned to Alexandra with the captured Iron Fist, a meeting of the Hand leaders is assembled. Danny is brought before the leaders and Alexandra welcomes Danny at the Hand, this time for good. She reveals that the motivation of the Hand is to return to K'un-Lun. Danny bitterly tells her that he saw that Alexandra and the Hand destroyed the city but Alexandra replies that Danny only saw what he wanted to see. Alexandra claims that the two of them are not so different and that they have the same home. She adds that whether he wants it or not, Danny will serve her. After Danny has been led to a cell, Alexandra turns to the other Hand leaders. Murakami still argues that nothing has gone as planned.

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Gao watches in horror as Alexandra is killed

The three argue what step should be taken next, with Bakuto stating that the retrieval of the substance is of paramount importance. Gao claims that the need to take care of Danny's allies who will come looking for him. She warns her team not to underestimate them but Alexandra tells the Hand not to underestimate her. Alexandra orders Elektra to kill all of Danny's allies and sarcastically states that she is happy the team is onboard with her plan. However, she reminds them that it was her who neutralized the enemy and brought them the Iron Fist while they succumbed to chaos and conflict. While Alexandra is ranting on, she is suddenly stabbed in the back by Elektra. To the shock of the other members of the Hand, Alexandra falls to the ground dead and is beheaded by Elektra, preventing any possible resurrection. While the others watch on in horror, Elektra tells them that they work for her now. Although she is not openly hostile like Bakuto and Murakami, Gao is still discontent with the situation. She reminds Elektra that the Hand is a global organization and that they somehow have to explain Alexandra's death to their partners. However, the psychopatic Elektra does not listen to Gao's caution.

After Elektra leaves the room with Danny, she heads down into the hole with the Iron Fist. The three remaining Hand leaders watch her from the control room. While Murakami claims that they need to stop her before she undoes everything they have built, Gao claims that Elektra is doing exactly what they want to do with Danny - bringing him to the wall down in the cave. Gao reminds them that they are closest to their goal than ever before.

Fighting the Defenders

Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil eventually arrive at the building that is located above the cave. They arrive to free Danny but when they enter the parking garage, they are confronted by Gao, Bakuto and Murakami. The three have come to prevent the Defenders from taking Danny and it comes to battle. During the fight, Gao uses her telekinesis-like chi powers to blast loads of stones throughg the room. Gao then storms towads Luke and Jessica, fending off both with ease and hurling Luke back. When Luke gets up to fight back, Gao blaskts a car at him. However, Luke is able to rip off a pipe and throw it to Jessica who is standing right behind Gao. Jessica catches it and smashes Gao away with it but although she is taken aback for a moment, she swiftly gets back up and blasts another projectile at her enemies. When it seems that the Hand leaders are losing the battle, Bakuto creates a discraction by cutting open a gas pipe and igniting the gas by slashing his sword over the concrete floor. The resulting sparks create an explosion which Luke Cage puts out immediately. Nonetheless, the brief opportunity allows all three masters to escape.

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Gao reaches the cave with the substance

Gao makes their way down to the cave where Elektra has opened the wall with unvoluntarily help from Danny. She reveals to Elektra that the cave they are now standing in holds the last remaining store of the substance available on earth. She also reveals that Daredevil, Jones and Cage have come and that she, Bakuto and Murakami have fended them off for as long as they could. Even now, Bakuto and Murakami are protecting them from the attackers. Elektra sends henchmen to deal with the Iron Fist. Gao agrees that he needs to die but claims that they should secure the substance first as the war is won anyhow. Elektra coldly replies that she decides when the war is won. Gao tells Elektra that once the substance is removed from the cave, the ground beneath New York City will keep crumbling until the entire city goes down. Seeing a bit of hesitation in Elektra's reaction, Gao assures her that it is only a city and that Elektra will see many more.

Still hiding within the cave, Danny suddenly attacks the workers who are cutting apart the fossils in the cave. However, he is eventually confronted by Gao who confirms Danny's suspicions that all the bones they are standing between are the remains of the dragon Shou-Lao. Gao further mocks Danny and provokes him but he tells that she cannot get into his head anymore. He demands to know what her plans for New York are and Gao replies that it is time for the city to fall. Furious, Danny attacks Gao who easily dodges and returns the blast, knocking Danny off his feet. Danny is then grabbed by Murakami while Gao realizes that the elevator is coming down - which means that the Defenders are coming.

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Gao flees into the cave

With Danny as their captive, they await the arrival of the Defenders but only Jessica is in the elevator. This is revealed to be a distraction and Luke and Daredevil swing in from different sides. This actually catches the Hand by surprise and the Defenders manage to take down a huge amount of henchmen. Danny is also able to free himself from Murakami and attacks Gao, kicking her legs away from under him. However, eventually the flood of henchmen proves to be too strong and Gao also regains her stance. Gao provocatively steps in front of the army, taunting Danny to attack. Danny unleashes his chi and hits Gao with the Iron Fist. Gao awaits the blast but despite her powers is unable to stop it. Gao is blasted backwards, as well as the rest of the Hand's footsoldiers. While they get back up, they are attacked by the Defenders. Witnessing the powers of the Defenders and seeing the enemies fall, Gao realizes that it might be best to flee and swiflty steps back into the shadows.

Despite having survived the battle, Gao is unable to flee the cave as Elektra has destroyed the elevator in order to have them all die together in the explosion when the bombs go off. After most remaining fighters have gone into the side caves and tunnels, Gao returns to the main chamber where she finds the mortally wounded Murakami, impaled on a metal pike. Murakami panicks and with his last breath, asks her what is happening. Gao calmly replies that it is the end, seconds before the bombs go off and detonate the building which collapses onto the cave - presumably killing Gao and Murakami.

Personality

Gao is considered to be ruthless and manipulative in her schemes and able to manipulate and inspire people to do her bidding, getting her own subordinates to blind themselves, so they can create her Steel Serpent formula. She made sure that her partners underestimated her by only speaking Mandarin to them for a time, but still desires respect among her peers, including Fisk and Wesley, who respected her and she successively respected them. She is known to be occasionally boastful and grandiloquent, but was still able to intimidate her enemies. Harold Meachum also respected her, so Gao (as a reward) let him see his daughter Hope and even let him kill one of the gangsters known as the "Hatchet Men", who had tried to kill Hope some time before. However, she hated it when Harold started plotting against her and the rest of the Hand, threatening him repeatedly.

Her ruthlessness led her to believe that Fisk, having formed a relationship with an innocent woman named Vanessa, was growing soft and would be a problem for her business later. To keep him on track, she poisoned Vanessa and made him pusillanimous and fearful for his life. She has been known to treat those who oppose her like children, patronizing Fisk and giving him warnings to get back on track: he was truly afraid of her, hinting at her true power. She also has a tendency to speak in riddles, often playing mind games with people she talks to and either confusing them or making them afraid.

Though she despises any obstacle in her mission, people or otherwise, she showed some respect for Daredevil for his intuitiveness, even giving him the location of her rival dealer the Blacksmith when he asked. However, she treated Danny Rand, the new Iron Fist, completely differently, patronizing him repeatedly and saying that other Iron Fists that she met in her life were better than him. While being held captive at Colleen Wing's dojo, she kept mocking Danny, who was really temperamental at the time, simply for fun.

Powers and Abilities

Powers

  • Longevity: Gao, like Alexandra, Sowande, Bakuto and Murakami, has lived long past her original life span through the Hand's mysterious ability to grant immortality to people who are dead, which seemingly also has something to do with her connection to her home of K'un L'un. She claimed that she has lived over 400 years, placing her original period of life around the 17th century. Despite appearing elderly, she is still intimidating to others. The only way to kill someone who has been resurrected by the Hand is by severing their head from their body or by completely-destroying or burning their body before they can return to life, as demonstrated by Nobu and Harold: it is presumed that Gao has this same weakness, but it hasn't been confirmed.
  • Telekinesis: Gao appears to be capable of making people fly off their feet for a moment with only a wave of her hand, as she did to Danny Rand when he tried to intimidate her. Where this power comes from and what its limits are remain unknown, but she presumably gained this power from the Hand.

Abilities

  • Omnilinguilism: Gao is able to speak fluent English, Japanese and Mandarin. When Fisk asked her how many languages she knows, she replied "All of them".
  • Martial Arts: Gao is perfectly capable of defending herself from attackers like Daredevil and Iron Fist through her martial arts experience, presumably learned from the Hand. Her appearance as a frail old woman is typically something that her enemies think they can use to their advantage.
  • Drug Resistance: When Danny Rand, Colleen Wing and Claire Temple tried to use sodium pentathol, a potent truth drug used by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, on her so that she tells them everything she knows about the Hand and the Meachums, the drug had no effect on her. She says that she developed an immunity the same way normal people can take small doses of poison so that the body develops an immunity to said poison.
  • Master Tactician: As a drug lord and leader of the Hand, Gao is clever, cunning and manipulative, carefully strategizing her schemes and predicting an opponent's next move with simplicity. This allowed her to know that poisoning Vanessa would make Fisk return to his work, as well as predict that Danny Rand would try to attack her and eventually release her from her imprisonment in Bakuto's compound.
  • Master Manipulator: Gao has shown little regard for the careful manipulation she performs on her friends and enemies, who all ultimately learn not to underestimate her. This also makes her patronizing towards people she dislikes, such as Danny Rand.

Trivia

  • In the original Marvel Comics on which Daredevil and Iron Fist are based, Steel Serpent, the name of the unique heroin she manufactures, is the name of an enemy of Iron Fist. The Serpent's seal is visible on the heroin packets Gao sells.
  • Madame Gao is similar to Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad: both are prominent drug lords who are known for their master manipulation abilities. They both also show respect for their enemies, but are prone to patronizing and fear-mongering.
  • Similarly to Hive, another antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who appeared on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gao dresses in black, has lived for hundreds of years, and can manipulate people to do their bidding. Whereas Hive used mind-control on Inhumans, Gao simply used her words.
  • Madame Gao is the most-recurring antagonist in the Netflix-original Marvel series so far, appearing in both Marvel's Daredevil and Marvel's Iron Fist. She is also the second most-recurring character in all of the series overall, behind Claire Temple.
  • The relationship between Gao and Fisk appears to be similar to that of Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, with both Gao and Snoke seeking to make sure their apprentices (Kylo Ren and Fisk, respectively) stay on their villainous course despite their own emotions getting in the way of that. In addition, both Gao and Snoke are ancient, powerful leaders who have access to an unspecified level of power.

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