- "I've been alive long enough to watch the world change in many ways. But this change now, it feels significant."
- ―Madame Gao to Danny Rand
Madame Gao is one of the five leading founders of the Hand. Over the many years of her life, she focused on running her own trade of heroin across New York City using Rand Enterprises' infrastructure as means for it, aligning with Wilson Fisk to further her own goals. Gao's goals were disrupted by vigilantes such as Daredevil while she attempted to control Fisk's emotional state. Having destroyed her rivals, including the Blacksmith, Gao's status within Rand was endangered when Danny Rand returned as the Iron Fist, putting Gao into conflict with him and Bakuto, a fellow leader of the Hand. However Gao continued aiding Alexandra Reid to complete the Hand's oldest goal, to return into K'un-Lun and become immortal. However, just as they came close to victory, Elektra murdered Reid and took over the Hand, while the Defenders also stood against them, which resulted the Defenders defeating Madame Gao and all her compatriots in the caves underneath New York.
Joining the Hand
- "I spent most of the 17th century being interrogated."
- ―Madame Gao
Madame Gao settled in K'un-Lun and learned how to use Chi for healing. However, she perverted the teachings of her masters with four others, including Alexandra Reid, Sowande, Murakami and Bakuto, to gain immortality and was banished as as a result. Together they formed the Hand, using the bones of Dragons they could find to maintain their long lives. Gao spent most of the 17th century being interrogated.
Killing the Rands
When Harold Meachum was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was approached by Madame Gao for aid who promised to return him from the dead. In return, Meachum set up Gao's heroin operation in Anzhou, China, which his business partner, Wendell Rand, soon discovered. When the Rands were to travel to Anzhou for Wendell to further his investigation, Harold used poison from the Hand on the pilots and caused a plane crash which killed Wendell and Heather Rand while their son Danny Rand disappeared in the mountains. Gao had attempted to talk him out of using the plane crash to kill the Rands, as she believed it would cause too much unwanted attention, but Meachum insisted upon it. After Meachum died, Gao had her division of the Hand infiltrate Rand Enterprises and kept watch on Meachum, who was under the Hand's control after returning from the dead. Her influence made her the biggest drug dealer in New York City.
Work in New York City
- "Heroin is illegal, and as far as territories go, New York is only one of mine."
- ―Madame Gao
Madame Gao is a master in the drug trade; she is in charge of an illegal drug manufacturing operation where her subordinates allowed themselves to be blinded, except for the security guards. Gao was approached by Wilson Fisk for assistance in his ambition to change Hell's Kitchen. To this end, Fisk proposed assisting Gao with the distribution of her heroin. Together they worked out a system where Gao's blind workers would take all of the bags of heroin to Vladimir and Anatoly Ranskahov who would in turn help to deliver it across the city.
One night, Madame Gao sat atop an empty building, along with her various associates, awaiting the arrival of Wilson Fisk. When Leland Owlsley complained about the cold and how Nobu Yoshioka did not seem bothered, Gao claimed that men like Yoshioka who had blood on their hands stayed warm. Eventually James Wesley arrived for the meeting instead of Fisk, citing Fisk was too busy to come in person, and for that he wanted to apologize to everybody and especially Gao personally.
Gao listened as Owlsley protested about Fisk's absence and Anatoly and Vladimir Ranskahov called Wesley a lapdog. When Wesley then questioned Anatoly and Vladimir about why their payment was short, they explained that a masked man freed their captive girls and beat up Turk Barrett and their subordinates. Gao spoke in Mandarin, but only Wesley understood, asking if the masked man took the girls for himself, but the Ranskahovs informed her that he had let them go. Gao quietly listened as the meeting continued and tensions between Wesley and the Ranskahov brothers increased even more.
War with the Russians
Gao was later called for another meeting, this time without either of the Ranskahov brothers; Leland Owlsley commented on the pints of blood being drained from a nearby car, to which Gao only laughed. They were interrupted by James Wesley and Wilson Fisk's arrival; Gao told Fisk she was happy to see him. Fisk however announced that the Ranskahov brothers were no longer a part of their organization as Fisk had murdered Anatoly the night before due to a personal matter which he did not share with the group yet, which only annoyed them all.
Both Gao and Nobu Yoshioka expressed their anger at the news and demanded to know how their own work could continue without the assistance of the Russians. However Gao was told by Fisk to still continue moving all of her shipments of Steel Serpent heroin to the Russians until Fisk could take over all the distribution. The group reluctantly agreed on the matter and departed while Fisk offered to walk Gao to her car, where she asked if he wanted something from her, but Fisk insisted that he only wanted to put the matter behind them all as quickly and effectively as was possible.
Controlling Wilson Fisk
Before long, Gao learned where Wilson Fisk's Penthouse was within New York City arrived for a private meeting with him. Fisk poured her tea which he had brought back from his last trip to China, which Gao approved of, but she assured him that she had not come to his home for tea. Gao then began speaking to Fisk in English, much to Fisk's surprise, and revealed that she was aware that Fisk spoke Mandarin and Japanese and did not need James Wesley to translate for him anymore, so Fisk ordered him to leave them alone.
They began speaking to each other in fluent Mandarin and Gao told him that neither Nobu Yoshioka nor Leland Owlsley were happy with Fisk's handling of recent events. She then called Fisk emotional and sloppy, making an example of her discovery of his residence as proof that Fisk was losing control. Before she departed, she told Fisk that if he did not restore his business to order, she would cut him from their organization and begin dealing with Yoshioka and Owlsley directly. She calmly left Wilson Fisk's Penthouse, thanking him for the tea as Fisk, enraged due to Gao's threat and overthrew the table.
Making a Choice
- "There is conflict within you."
"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
Gao had a meeting with Wilson Fisk on a rooftop garden. When he arrived, she commented on James Wesley's absence, as he was no longer needed to translate. Gao spoke to Fisk in Mandarin and told him a metaphorical tale of a snake that died after biting an elephant. When Gao expressed her disappointment at Nobu Yoshioka's death, Fisk claimed that he did not expect Yoshioka to go against the masked man himself.
Gao warned Fisk that the Hand was preparing for retaliation. She asked him if his ambition would ever turn to her, but Fisk assured her that she had his respect. She told him that his mind was distracted since falling in love with Vanessa Marianna. She told him to decide if he was the savior or oppressor of the city. Believing Fisk's love for Marianna would endanger their business, Gao decided to join forces with Leland Owlsley and together they planned to poison Marianna at the benefit Fisk was attending. Although Marianna did drink the poison, she was rushed to the hospital in time to be saved.
Encounter with the Masked Man
- "All those people, you took their eyes."
"No, they blinded themselves."
"Why would they do that?"
"Because they have faith."
- ―Masked Man and Madame Gao
While in her warehouse, Gao watched over her blind workers as they continued producing Steel Serpent Heroin. However, she spotted the masked man in her warehouse, who was snooping around to find for answers about the drug trade in New York City. Gao yelled a warning to her workers and ordered them to attack, hoping that their numbers would overwhelm him and he would be detained long enough for her to escape.
While her workers found and surrounded the intruder, Gao took two armed guards with her and attempted to escape the warehouse during the fight. However, just as Gao quickly moved through the warehouse towards safety, they were attacked by the masked man who quickly defeated the guards and confronted Gao, causing a fire to break out when one of her guards shot a nearby barrel. With just Gao and the man alone in the slowly burning room, Gao stood tall and prepared for the confrontation with the feared vigilante who had so far defeated both Nobu Yoshioka and the Russian mob.The man demanded to know why her people had been blinded, but Gao assured him that they had blinded themselves because of their faith in what she stood for, and now the masked man had taken that faith away from them. The man questioned if their faith was in her drugs but Gao insisted it was about more than heroin and that he had no faith at all. When the man asked about Wilson Fisk, Gao struck him in the chest and knocked him a few feet across the floor. As the man recovered from the shock, Gao vanished without a trace, while the warehouse and all of her heroin burned down.
Reflecting upon the Future
- "I will visit my homeland, and reflect upon the future."
"It is a considerable distance further. We shall not speak again."
- ―Madame Gao and Leland Owlsley
Having escaped from her warehouse before the New York City Police Department could find and arrest her and her business burned to the ground, Gao met with Leland Owlsley to discuss the recent events. She greeted Owlsley in English, apologizing for her lateness. She informed Owlsley about the encounter with the masked man and the destruction of the heroin. When Owlsley suggested she bring in more heroin, Gao explained that she never had any real interest in selling drugs.
They then discussed the risk of Wilson Fisk discovering their plan to assassinate Vanessa Marianna, with Gao noting that Fisk believed that the poison was meant for him. Owlsley then asked if Gao was responsible for killing James Wesley as well, but she assured him she was not as Wesley had never shown her discourtesy. As Gao left the meeting, she then informed Owlsley that she was returning to her homeland to reflect upon the future. Knowing that Fisk would likely learn the truth about Marianna's poisoning, Gao told Owlsley that they would not speak again as she walked away.
Hunting the Blacksmith
- "I see from the uniform you've taken the devil's name to heart."
"Yeah, I had to, because of people like you."
"So you continue your fight, but for how long, I wonder."
- ―Madame Gao and Daredevil
Gao either returned or never left New York City, continuing her heroin trade despite eventually running into some new trouble when a rival dealer known as the Blacksmith began stepping into her territory to sell his own heroin. Gao was visited by Daredevil who demanded to know how and where he could find the Blacksmith. Once Gao had ordered her men to leave, they discussed the Blacksmith's operations in private, with Daredevil threatening to call the New York City Police Department to her location if she had refused to assist him in the search.
Madame Gao started to explain how the Blacksmith was eliminating her chemists and street dealers, causing trouble for her. Daredevil assured her that he could end the Blacksmith's career that night. Gao directed him to the docks as her men believed he brought his drugs over by ships although she did not know which pier and so could not have him killed herself, advising him that the Blacksmith's ship would be well guarded. As Daredevil thanked Gao for all of her assistance and prepared to leave, Gao then warned him that his path would not be an easy one before allowing him to leave.
Challenging Iron Fist
Harold Meachum's Prison
- "We have an agreement. You must honor it to the letter or there will be consequences."
"I... I understand."
- ―Madame Gao and Harold Meachum
Upon Danny Rand's mysterious return to New York City, Gao learned that Harold Meachum had left his penthouse prison to investigate the identity of Rand. Furious at Meachum's actions, she left a Hand print on the outside of his window. While Meachum was training later that night, Gao arrived in person to reaffirm his cooperation. Shocked at Gao's arrival, Meachum accidentally broke a glass, only for Gao to order him to kneel on the glass as a sign of respect to her, causing Meachum to cut his hands and knees on the broken glass, causing him pain.
Due to the threats made against him, Meachum did as he had been instructed by Gao, as a reward Gao had him wear a blindfold and took him to take a look at Joy Meachum from the building across from hers. As he looked at his daughter who he had not seen since she was a child, Meachum noted that his daughter had been hit, as Gao explained that she had had a run in with the Yangsi Gonshi, only to have been rescued by her bodyguard. Meachum asked for one more favor, which Gao granted, to be allowed to personally execute the man who had injured his daughter in the attack.
Gao had Meachum, through his own son Ward Meachum, purchase a pier property with the intention to smuggle a scientist into New York named Radovan Bernivig to produce all of their heroin. However before he arrived, Iron Fist intercepted Bernivig and escaped. Having inspected the truck with Iron Fist had punched through, Madame Gao killed the bodyguard assigned to secure Bernivig and left his head behind in the abandoned truck for Rand to find, along with a challenge to him, as to free Bernivig's daughter from her would be to then complete her upcoming Da Jue Zhan contest.
- "The Iron Fist accepts the challenge of the Grand Duel in the name of the holy city of K'un-Lun. My terms are that, upon my victory, the Hand will relinquish custody of the young woman Sabina and depart from Rand."
"My master agrees to your terms. Should you lose, but remain alive, you must remove yourself from all of our dealings."
- ―Iron Fist and Madame Gao
As expected, Danny Rand arrived into the location where he set the terms for Gao that if he won the duel, she would be forced to free the captured Sabina Bernivig and the Hand would leave New York City, never to return. Gao accepted this and in turn demanded that if he were to lose the contest, then he would never get involved with the Hand's activities again, with Rand accepted. Gao and Rand then washed their hands as she led him to the first challenge.
Gao led Rand through the warehouse were he was first challenged by Andrei and Grigori Veznikov, who mocked the Iron Fist for not taking his place at K'un-Lun before drawing blood from their own hands to make a ring around them all, explaining that if the Iron Fist fell out of the ring or died, who would lose. Gao watched as Iron Fist battled the brothers who together attempted to overpower him by using their expert team work and knives to their advantage, however the Iron Fist soon got the upper hand and forced them to yield.
Gao took Rand into the next room which was filled with smoke where he was then was attacked by the Bride of Nine Spiders who tried to first seduce and then poison Rand. With all the Iron Fist's senses damaged by the Bride's poison, he struggled to continue fighting, allowing the Bride to beat him mercilessly. However, Gao watched as Iron Fist regain his strength and he fought though the pain and eventually defeated her as well. Seeing that he was hurt, Gao then recommended that Iron Fist withdraw from the Da Jue Zhan, but he refused without having saved Bernivig from Gao.
Breaking the Rules
With one last chance to destroy him, Gao took Iron Fist into his final opponent, Scythe, who used all his skills with bladed weapons to try and kill the Iron Fist. Gao watched the fight unfolding, seeing Scythe put up a good fight, however he was not as skilled as Danny Rand, so she made a silent retreat. Rand used the power of the Iron Fist to punch through his weapon, smashing it apart before landing a final blow on Scythe.
However, before Iron Fist could lay the killing blow, Gao revealed herself and threatened Sabina Bernivig's life, promising that if he did not withdraw from the Da Jue Zhan, she would kill the hostage by cutting her throat. Rand insisted that this action was dishonorable, but Gao made it clear that she did not care about the honor of the duel as long as she came out victorious in the end. Despite being haunted by Lei Kung's lessons about being merciless against all his enemies, Rand eventually chose to withdraw with great reluctance and Gao released the hostage to him, laughing to herself.
Gao said she found it amusing that the Iron Fist had saved an innocent life over defeating the Hand, questioning why he was in New York City. Gao mentioned that she had met previous Iron Fists and made it clear that she had been to K'un-Lun herself. While talking about Rand's honor, she then mentioned Wendell Rand's lack of honor, but before Rand could then learn more, Gao was able to throw him back without physically touching him, and she was gone by the time he recovered. Gao later sent Alexi and Vando to punish Harold Meachum for not mentioning that Rand was the Iron Fist.
Confronting Danny Rand
- "History says that the Iron Fist and the Hand are mortal enemies. But I wonder in the spirit of change, perhaps we can 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?"
- ―Madame Gao to Danny Rand
Seeking to speak with Danny Rand in person in the wake of the Da Jue Zhan, Madame Gao and her own henchmen travelled directly to the Rand Enterprises Building were she found Rand in a meeting with Joy Meachum as she was confronting him over his own work ethic. With Rand having seen her arrival, Gao calmly entered Rand's office and waited for him there, putting a plant down on a table for decoration and noting on how poorly designed the office was.
As Rand questioned how Gao had gotten into the building, she just calmly explained that she had been a part of Rand Enterprises far longer than Rand himself had, noting that she did not plan on ever leaving. Seeing Rand was ready to fight, Gao noted he could not be seen attacking an old woman in public. Gao compared Rand to the other Iron Fists she had known, while Rand questioned why the Steel Serpent heroin was designed with a symbol from K'un-Lun. But Gao continued discussing the Iron Fists and how they would have never surrendered a duel to save just one innocent girl's life.
Gao noted how over her own long life she had seen the world greatly change, but with the arrival of Daredevil and Luke Cage among some others in New York City, she felt this change would be significant. Gao suggested that perhaps with him having broken tradition and left K'un-Lun, the Iron Fist and the Hand could now end their battle and become allies. Gao told Rand to enjoy the life he had left K'un Lun for, suggesting that he end their ages old war now and instead spend his days with Colleen Wing and Claire Temple, enjoying his money by buying a yacht and eating at various fancy restaurants.
Telling Rand to focus on his business and claiming that this would be the best offer he would get, Gao went to leave his office only to be stopped and asked about her relationship with Wendell Rand. Gao however refused to answer Rand's question and simply walked out, also reminding Rand to continue watering his new plant. Entering the lift with both her bodyguards, Gao used her Rand Enterprises key card to activate the lift and be taken to her floor while Rand watched in horror. During the ride down, Gao felt a bump in the elevator but she and her bodyguards chose to simply ignore the noise.
On the thirteenth floor, Madame Gao had a meeting with one of her subordinates about how the Steel Serpent heroin was to be moved by the Russians and the Dogs of Hell using the Rand Enterprises trucks across New York City. When the woman referred to the Dogs of Hell as Gao's partners, she corrected her that the Dogs of Hell worked for the Hand but her not their partners. Gao noted that she would soon be dealing with Hai-Qing Yang and also that Radovan Bernivig was going to surrender his heroin formula to them shortly. Gao left the office, also noting that it needed more light.
Ambush in China
Having forced Radovan Bernivig to give up his heroin formula, Gao had him killed and then departed for China. As Gao and her three bodyguards entered the factory, they heard somebody honking on a car horn, so Gao then sent her people to investigate. Gao soon came across Zhou Cheng, the watchman of the factory, who was sound asleep and still drunk, so Gao kicked him and ordered him to move aside so she could explore her own heroin factory.
Before long however, Cheng was defeated by the Iron Fist in single combat, at which point Gao revealed herself to him and claimed that she could teach him how to control his rage which had almost lead to him beating Cheng to death. Iron Fist demanded to know more about Gao's own relationship with Wendell Rand, but she refused to answer, ordering him to keep his distance from her. Gao then ordered Iron Fist to surrender to her and the Hand, claiming that if he did as he was instructed then both Claire Temple and Colleen Wing would be granted a merciful and pain free death by her own hands.
Iron Fist vowed that he would die before allowing Temple and Wing to come into harms way, at which point Gao claimed that she would not allow him to die just yet, and ordered her men to kill the women and leave Iron Fist alive. Gao watched her soldiers attack the group only to be defeated, however one of her own men stabbed another, revealing the poisoned blades which Danny Rand recognised as the same poison that killed his parent's pilots resulting in their deaths in the plane crash. In a fit of rage, Iron Fist destroyed the wall behind Gao and proceeded to take her into his own custody.
Danny Rand's Hostage
- "If you allow this charade to continue, all will be lost. Release me and I will allow you to proceed with your life untouched. I can guarantee that. They are coming, Ms. Wing. You know what they'll do when they arrive. Get out now, before it is too late."
- ―Madame Gao to Colleen Wing
Having been taken back to Chikara Dojo, Gao watched with satisfaction as Danny Rand argued with Colleen Wing over why she had been taken there, with Gao noted that the would never end up in the hands of the New York City Police Department. Rand demanded to know about the Hand and Gao's relationship with Wendell Rand, but Gao refused to answer. Rand threatened to strike her with the Iron Fist but Gao was unaffected, smiling at Rand's efforts to intimidate her.
While waiting, Gao was given some water by Claire Temple who also questioned if Gao was uncomfortable. Gao quickly deduced that Temple was the sort of person who ended up close with people with gifts like Rand, as well as Daredevil and Luke Cage, claiming that Temple wanted to be special like they were. Although Temple argued that she had helped the heroes, Gao noted that they had all ended up broken. Gao claimed that Temple should leave now to save Rand, even hinting that if she did not then her mother would now be at risk, leading to Temple furiously threatening Gao's own life.
As the night wore on, Gao was guarded only by Wing, who insisted that Gao keep silent under the threat of a sock in her throat. Gao commented on Wing's grandfather training her and spoke to her in Japanese when Wing told her to be quiet. Gao however made it clear that she knew more details about Wing's upbringing with her family, as Gao told Wing to set her free before it was too late, knowing Wing was secretly a member of the Hand and therefore knew the dangers that would coming. Gao then watched with satisfaction as the posion Wing was affected with took over her body.
Eventually Rand returned with truth serum he had gotten from Rand Enterprises which Temple prepared to inject into Gao. Unaffected by this, Gao warned Rand that he was going to face something he was completely unprepared for. When Rand claimed that it could not be scarier than Shou-Lao, the dragon he had faced in K'un-Lun, Gao informed him that it was. Pretending to be affected by the drugs and acting drowsy, Gao claimed she had known Rand's mother who she said she had found to be easy to manipulate, noting that Rand's father had wanted nothing to do with the Hand.
Gao told Rand that Harold Meachum had made the deal with the Hand, but when Rand then tried to get more information out of her, Gao pretended to be knocked out by the drugs. Gao then watched silently as Colleen Wing collapsed due to the affects of the poison she had been affected with by the Hand's blades. Gao then revealed she was unaffected, claiming she had spent much of the seventeenth century being interrogated. As Rand tried to call Wing's sensei to come and help, Gao told them that the more time they wasted the closer Wing came to her inevitable death.
Captured by Bakuto
As Colleen Wing awaited assistance, Gao remained tied to her chair and mocked the group until all the lights across Chikara Dojo were cut out by the Hand. Gao watched with amusement as the group prepared to fight as the Dojo was filled with smoke and soldiers stormed in. With the assistance of the Iron Fist, the soldiers were defeated, although Wing's pain continued, with Gao offering the antidote if they freed her.
Wing eventually collapsed from the poison as Claire Temple admitted there was nothing more she could do for her. They were all then greeted by the arrival of Bakuto, who offered to assist Wing in her recovery, explaining that he had already taken care of all of Gao's mercenaries, which he proved by pointing out the body that was now hanging from outside the window of the Dojo. Although Gao warned that Bakuto had no business there and that Danny Rand would be making a mistake by letting him inside, Rand ignored her and open the door for Bakuto to come and assist Wing.
Gao was forced to watch as Bakuto ignored her objections and instead trained Rand to use the power of Chi to burn the poison out of Wing's body, thus saving her life. However the procedure proved too much for Rand as he collapsed from exhaustion. Bakuto then took the chance to take Rand and Gao into his custody, leading them downstairs and into his cars to be taken to the Hand Compound, telling Temple that she was not allowed there as she was not a member of the Hand. Under Bakuto's orders, Gao was then locked inside a small room with no windows to await her fate.
Eventually Gao was visited in her cell by Rand, who she mocked by claiming that her situation was barely prison compared to the slavery Rand had allowed himself into by joining with Bakuto. As Rand became annoyed at Gao's insults, she revealed to him that he was at the base of the Hand, although Rand refused to believe it. Before Gao and Rand could continue their discussion, they were interrupted by the arrival of Bakuto who tried to convince Rand that Gao was manipulating him yet again and led him away, leaving Gao to return to her bed and then contemplate on the future.
- "It's no mystery why you're such a poor Iron Fist. You don't understand your own path. Your chi is so polluted with guilt, yet you refuse to face it."
"And what should I be guilty of?"
"The death of your parents."
- ―Madame Gao and Danny Rand
Gao was left in her cell for days without food or water for days until she was eventually found by Danny Rand, who had returned to the Hand Compound looking for answers. Under the threat of Colleen Wing cutting off her head, Gao agreed to give them whatever information they required, although she soon informed them that there were no copies made of the information on the Hand's tablet which Rand had stolen, although Wing accused Gao of being a liar.
As they entered her cell, Gao told Rand his Chi was damaged due to his guilt over his parent's deaths, claiming his thirst for vengeance led him to leave K'un-Lun. When Rand questioned why he should feel guilt, Gao explained it was because he had survived the plane crash with barely a scratch while his parents had both been killed. As they discussed Rand's desire to punish the one who had killed his parents, Gao revealed to Rand that she was not the one who had killed them, claiming that if it had been her then she would not have even bothered to hide their deaths with a plane crash.
Despite Wing insisting that she was playing more mind games with them, Gao then told Rand that Harold Meachum was the one who had killed Rand's parents to gain control over Rand Enterprises, as she explained that Wendell Rand had discovered Meachum's deal with the Hand and so Meachum had killed him. Gao told Rand that the only way he could become the true Iron Fist would be for him to rid himself of his desire for vengeance and kill Meachum. Rand then stormed out as Wing told Gao that if she was not found soon by her own minions then she would rot inside her own prison cell.
Gao was eventually freed from Bakuto's prison by some of her own subordinates and was able to walk free in New York City again. Soon Gao had discovered that Rand's former friend and ally from K'un-Lun, Davos, had felt betrayed by Rand's decision to leave his home and decided to plot his own revenge against him. Gao positioned herself in a cafe to overhear Davos' meeting with Joy Meachum in which they discussed their mutual hatred for Rand and agreed to kill him, which Gao listened to with great amusement as she sipped her tea and continued to listen to their discussion closely.
Alexandra Reid's Orders
- "We all agreed, this plan, it makes sense."
"It took great efforts to arrange this. If we speed the process it will not be quiet."
- ―Madame Gao and Alexandra Reid
Gao reported to her superior, Alexandra Reid, for a private meeting at the Central Park in Manhattan and informed her that finally all of the arrangements in their plan to obtain the bones of the Dragons that sustained the Hand had come to fruition. When questioned by Reid on the best time in proceeding further, Gao had told her it would take three months to get everything ready to complete the plan. Unsatisfied with this, Reid then ordered Gao to inform the other members of the Hand that they must accelerate their operations.
Gao had slightly objected to moving on so quickly noting that the activities of the Hand will be felt throughout New York City. Reid, however, insisted that they must move quickly regardless, noting that their circumstances had changed and now their original plan would no longer work. Acknowledging Reid's instructions, Gao declared that she will inform the other leaders of the Hand to move forward, much to Reid's satisfaction. Reid had then departed from the Park, but not before asking Gao to finish feeding nearby pigeons, stating that they were all starving, much to Gao's annoyance.
The following evening, Gao had met Reid at her residence where Reid was having a drink before she prepared to watch the events unfold across all of New York City. Gao informed Reid that the others have been briefed on the orders to move quickly and will proceed to do so. When Gao continued to question her leader about their plans, Reid quickly dismissed her, and ordered her to leave. Gao did so without further questioning her leader, leaving her and Elektra to then watch as the Earthquake caused by all their schemes underneath Midland Circle, left much of New York City in utter ruins.
An Unexpected Obstacle
Gao had later met Alexandra Reid at a Gallery for Musical Arts. When updating her own leader on their progress in digger within all of the underground facilities of Midland Circle, Gao had revealed that there was another wall with inscriptions from K'un-Lun blocking their access to the Dragon Bones for the Hand. Reid ordered her to tear down the wall, but Gao insisted that they had tried their best, but had all failed.
Gao then noted that the Elders of K'un-Lun were always aware of the Hand's arrival and plans to recreate the Resurrection Elixir, and then would have therefore likely blocked their pathway to get to the bones of the Dragons. When Gao suggested to revise their plan in gaining more of the substance, Reid had berated her for giving up so quickly, before sharing her insight. Reid deciphered that the apparent wall blocking their way was instead a doorway. When Gao questioned what they will need to open the mystical door, Reid revealed that the door must be opened by the Iron Fist, which was the one thing that the Elders of K'un-Lun have valued for the longest.
Having been informed by Alexandra Reid that all of the Defenders had been tracked to the Royal Dragon where they were attempting to hide from their enemies, Gao gathered together her small army of Hand soldiers and prepared to attack them. As Gao was led to the car, one of her own men opened the door for her as they drove to the Royal Dragon, desiring to capture the Iron Fist and defeat the Defenders in order to complete their plans.
As they stormed into the building, Gao witnessed Sowande's men opening fire upon their enemies, forcing them to take cover as the building was torn apart by bullets. Without saying a word, Gao however then took one of their guns and executed one of Sowande's soldiers, before she then demanded that they stop shooting in order to not risk the life of the Iron Fist whom they needed to complete their plans. Gao and Sowande's men then surrounded the team, along with their new ally Stick, and then prepared for the final battle, armed with their weapons ready for hand to hand combat.
Gao kept her distance during the fight, while Murakami appeared and assisted with the combat, with Sowande fighting against Luke Cage alone in order to distract the Defenders' single strongest fighter, which had lead to both Cage and Sowande leaving the Royal Dragon to continue their fight down the street. Soon, the Hand separated all the Defenders during the ambush, while Gao's men had been able to knock the Iron Fist off his feet. Gao ordered her people to take the Iron Fist into custody, however Jessica Jones and Stick ran to his aid as they both managed to get away from Gao's people.
Eventually the Defenders charged outside to regroup with Matt Murdock, blocking the doorway on their way out. As her men failed to open the door, Gao then stepped forward and used her abilities to open the door with incredible force without even touching it. Once outside, Gao found Murakami lying on the floor as he popped his shoulder back into place and Gao demanded to know where the Defenders had gone and what happened to the Black Sky. Murakami was unable to answer and noted that this was a question for their leader Reid, who had been watching the events unfold.
Questioning Alexandra Reid
Back in their headquarters, Gao was asked by Bakuto if they were no longer on speaking terms since he had last kidnapped her, however Gao insisted that as long as they were all still part of the Hand, they would be on the same side. Gao asked Bakuto if he remembered K'un-Lun before noting that the only way they would be able to return would be if they captured the Iron Fist, questioning why Bakuto had recently targeted his former student Colleen Wing instead of the Iron Fist directly as he had been instructed to do by them.
Although Bakuto defended his choice, Gao claimed that Bakuto had a weakness for his own students, to which he argued that he simply did not need to blind his underlings like Gao did to her Steel Serpent slaves to make them loyal to him. Before Gao could argue, they were then joined by Alexandra Reid who promised to confront Bakuto over his failures soon enough, but first Murakami informed the group that the Iron Fist had recruited Daredevil onto his side. Although Gao questioned his claims, noting that Daredevil had not been in New York City for months, Murakami insisted it was the truth.
While Bakuto questioned why Daredevil was a concern, Murakami noted his relationship with Elektra was what concerned him, as Gao confirmed that she had fought beside him in their battle against Nobu Yoshioka before her death and later rebirth, while Murakami noted that Elektra had also loved Daredevil in her past life. As Gao listened, Murakami calimed she had attacked him during the Ambush at the Royal Dragon and even said that it was not the Black Sky who had failed them, but Reid for using up all of their Resurrection Elixir to bring back a warrior who was a threat to the Hand's existence.
Gao and the others agreed with what Murakami said, noting that the five leaders of the Hand were always stronger together, with Gao noting that they had lost Sowande which meant they were already weaker and therefore at an even greater risk. Although Reid insisted that Sowande would return eventually. Despite Reid's confidence, Bakuto noted that without their Elixir, death was now a possibility for them for the first time. The other leaders all then began to question Reid's leadership, noting that Elektra had nearly killed Murakami, although Reid claimed they were all still expendable.
Much to her horror, Gao and the other Hand leader were presented with the severed head of Sowande, which had been found in one of his warehouses after he had presumably been killed by Stick. Gao claimed that Sowande's death could have been avoided, with Bakuto noting that they did not even try to find him, all while Reid insisted that he had gotten himself captured and showed almost no remorse for his death, even suggesting that they stop pretending that they would be mourning Sowande's loss.
Reid noted that they had all survived assassination attempts from one another over their long years of life, with Gao recalling Bakuto only recently attempting to kill her. When Reid suggested they show unity, Murakami noted that they had been unified until Reid had brought the Black Sky into their organisation, with Reid even refusing to give up the location of Elektra out of fear they would try to destroy her or she would kill them. Gao then showed her loyalty to Reid by claiming that they needed to honor Sowande by completing their mission and following the one true leader of the Hand.
Gao went to visit Alexandra Reid in her room, finding her taking pills and complaining that Gao walked in despite the door being closed. Gao noted that while Reid position of the Hand's leader was one of great power, she understood that it was also a great burden, hence why she had convinced the others to follow her leadership, under the single term that they would find the Iron Fist without the interference of the Black Sky, whom they had lost confidence with.
When Reid accused Gao of losing her faith, Gao noted that it was unlike Reid to show such weakness. Gao went on to say that while their fellow leaders could be clumsy in the way they expressed their feelings, she did agree with them, noting that the Black Sky had always been Reid's goal and now it had failed, which Reid still disagreed with. Gao however then argued that since bringing Elektra back with the Resurrection Elixir they were still no closer to finding the Iron Fist or returning to K'un-Lun as was planned, claiming that the only thing they were closer to was their own deaths.
Although Reid tried to argue that Elektra had more than strength of body but of mind as well, although Gao still noted that the others would not accept this, with Reid pointing out that the others wanted to take her position. Gao claimed that she was Reid's only remaining ally in this fight, although she then made it clear that she no longer believed in the Black Sky. Gao told Reid to consider her proposal and left her room, walking past Murakami along the way. Having now heard everything she needed to, Gao informed Murakami that he was indeed correct to question Reid's ability to lead them.
Gao was informed that a meeting of the Hand's leaders was happening in the board room and soon discovered that Danny Rand had finally been captured and was presented to them all. Gao watched as Rand was spoken to by Alexandra Reid who explained the Hand's goal was simply to finally return to K'un-Lun, even claiming that they were not so different compared with Rand himself, which he furiously denied before being taken away.
While Reid addressed the others, Murakami still expressed his own great disappointment at Reid's leadership, claiming that little had gone to plan under her leadership. Although Gao defended Reid by noting that they finally had the Iron Fist, Murakami claimed that it was not worth the risk to their own lives in the wake of Sowande's death, while Gao noted that they must look to the future from this point onwards. Bakuto noted their sole focus must be reclaiming the Resurrection Elixir as soon as possible while Gao noted that the Defenders would likely come and must not be underestimated.
Gao then witnessed Reid demanded that they do not underestimate her before ordering Elektra to to hunt down and kill Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, along with Daredevil. Gao listened as Reid reminded them of all they had achieved under her leadership, noting that she had been the one to wipe out the Chaste and captured the Iron Fist. However just as Reid was continuing her speech, Elektra returned into the room and plunged her Twin Sai through Reid's back. Gao watched in utter horror as Elektra claimed to be the new leader of the Hand before slicing off Reid's head, killing her once and for all.
Having watched Reid's corpse being taken away, Gao listened as Bakuto told Elektra that this was not how they did business, to which Elektra informed him that this had now changed. When Bakuto and Murakami vowed to do what needed to be done to protect the Hand, threatening to destroy Elektra, she noted that this was the first challenge they had faced without the Elixir to bring them back from death. Gao then argued that Reid's death must be explained to their partners, explaining that her relationships with Wilson Fisk and other partners provided them with their invisibility and power.
Elektra showed little interest in this, calling them all living underground in hiding the complete opposite of having power. Gao then watched as Bakuto noted that Elektra knew nothing of power, claiming that since her death of Nobu Yoshioka's hands she did not even exist until Reid had given her back her self. Elektra however told the others that she did not care anything for the Hand, and instead claimed she only cared about gaining the bones of the Dragons hidden underneath New York City so that she and the others could live forever, promising that nothing, not even death, would stand in her way.
Gao and the others later watched on monitors as Elektra took the captured Rand underneath Midland Circle in the pit the Hand had been digging. As they watched, Murakami expressed his deep distrust for Elektra, claiming they should all destroy her before she laid waste to everything they had been building. Gao however noted that they were now closer than they had ever been before, with the Iron Fist now being led towards the mysterious doorway from K'un-Lun, claiming Elektra not being one of them no longer mattered, as she had the power to finally bring them all a brand new beginning.
Showdown with the Defenders
Gao and her surviving allies stood as the defence as the Defenders soon arrived inside Midland Circle with the intention of saving Danny Rand from them. Gao however informed them that the Iron Fist now belonged to them, leading to a stand off as both teams prepared all of their weapons for their battle, with Gao remaining calm and prepared to summon her Chi to use her own powers of telekinesis to destroy the Defenders.
As the battle began, Gao launched a container of concrete blocks at the Defenders which Daredevil jumped over and engaged the others, while Jessica Jones kicked the blocks back at Gao, forcing her to destroy them all without touching them. Gao then stepped forward to engage in the fight herself, with Jones warning that she was stronger than she looked. Luke Cage first attacked Gao and was surprised to discover that she could more than match his strength. While Jones attempted to assist, Gao threw Cage across the room before attacking her, proving to also be a match for Jones.
Gao used her Chi powers to knock back Jones and pinned Cage against the wall by slamming a car into him, Cage however managed to rip out a large steel pipe above his head, which he threw to Jones who in turn struck Gao with it, knocking her back. As Cage became distracted upon being attacked by Murakami, Gao continued fighting against Jones, managing to sneak behind her and sending her flying painfully backwards into a car. Jones soon managed to outplay Gao and knocked her back, leading to Murakami ordering Bakuto to set a fire which they used to get away.
Finding the Bones
- "We held them back as long as we could. The war has been won."
"I decide when we've won."
"Once we've removed the substance the foundation of the city will continue to weaken. A swath of New York will crumble. Many will die. It's just a city. They rise. They fall. You'll see many more."
- ―Madame Gao and Elektra
Leaving the Defenders behind, Gao then traveled down to the depths of the pit where she found Elektra had successfully opened the door using Iron Fist, thus exposing the bones of the Dragons that had been hidden for so many years. Gao explained that the Dragons had once roamed the land of K'un-Lun and now these fossils were all that remained. Although Elektra wanted Iron Fist dead, Gao recommended that they first remove the bones and then kill Iron Fist.
When Elektra asked where Murakami and Bakuto were, Gao explained they were securing their escape from Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, explaining that they had held off their arrival for as long as they could. Although Gao claimed the Hand had already won the war, Elektra insisted that only she could decide when they had won. Gao then noted that once the bones had been removed from the underground caves, then the very foundation of New York City would crumble, resulting in the deaths of thousands or millions of innocent people, something which Gao showed no remorse for.
While her men began removing the bones to create the Resurrection Elixir, Gao came across Danny Rand who was attempting to make his escape. Gao noted the power that the dragons had given them both, with Shou-Lao being the one who turned Rand into the Iron Fist, although Gao claimed his power was nothing, compared to eternal life. Disgusted by the treatment of these dragons, Rand told Gao that the elders of K'un-Lun had shown far too much mercy when they banished the Hand, causing Gao to smile at the concept that Rand would finally be the one who would right that ancient wrong.
Gao claimed Rand was still as naive as when she had first laid eyes on him when he was a child, walking while holding hands with his mother. Gao hinted at a possibility that they could resurrect Rand's mother, smiling as she noted that Rand now stood before her, with nobody to help him as he tried to fulfil a prophesy or numb his own pain. When asked about her plans, Gao told Rand that it was time for New York to fall before she landed a strike on Rand. Gao noted the elevator was coming down with the Defenders, while Murakami captured Rand and Elektra awaited the arrival of his allies.
Gao witnessed the elevator arrive with Jessica Jones having seemingly come alone to talk, confronting Elektra for making her life considerably more complicated and violent. However while they were distracted by Jones, the Hand was suddenly ambushed by the other Defenders. During the chaos, Danny Rand managed to break free from Murakami's grip and then knocked Gao off her feet before she could do anything to stop him.
Working together, the Defenders managed to gain the upper hand and defeated much of the Hand's soldiers, leading to Gao stepping up with Elektra and Murakami to finish off the heroes. Gao dropped her walking stick and gathered all of her Chi, intending to deliver a blast of energy that would subdue all of the Defenders in one strike, with Rand then summoning the Iron Fist to stand against her. With both their Chi at full strength, Rand and Gao struck each other, with Iron Fist overpowering Gao and deflecting all her own energy back against her and her army, knocking them off their feet.
The Defenders then worked together to battle against all of the Hand's forces, with Luke Cage managing to subdue Murakami while Daredevil joined forces with Iron Fist and Jones to take out as many of the soldiers as they could, eventually becoming some of the only fighters still standing. Gao watched from a distance, hidden behind the bones of the Dragons, and watched as Elektra stepped forward and then battled against all of the Defenders alone, using all of her own skills as the Black Sky to beat them back until she herself was eventually overpowered by the heroes working together.
Gao witnessed Daredevil ordering the other Defenders to escape in the elevator while he stayed behind and fought against Elektra, desperate to get through to the person he had once known. As the battle came to its conclusion, Gao went over to Murakami, as he had become impaled on a steel bar due to having been thrown out of the elevator from a great height. Bleeding and in agony, Murakami asked Gao what was happening, to which Gao said it was the end for them. With no possible escape in sight, Gao then looked upwards and awaited the bombs to explode, which resulted in Midland Circle collapsing above them as tons of concrete and earth came crashing down, seemingly burying them all alive.
Madame Gao is a ruthless criminal, able to gain complete trust of her subordinates and even make them blind themselves. While working with others, she is highly calculating and even spoke only Mandarin to make them underestimate her and let them believe she would not understand them without translation. She was quick to turn on her allies but seemed to respect Wilson Fisk more than the rest of his associates, as she warned him that he was losing himself on his mission. Despite this, she ultimately ended up trying to kill Vanessa Marianna as she considered her a distraction for him. She seemed to have some level of respect for Daredevil, however, and when their interests temporarily aligned, she willingly gave him information on the Blacksmith with the hope that both Daredevil and the Punisher would find and destroy her enemy.
Madame Gao speaks a lot in riddles and surrounds herself with an air of mysticism during her interactions.
Powers and Abilities
- Longevity: Gao's use of The Substance, a regenerative elixir created from Dragon bones, has enabled her an immensely long physical life, as she has stated she was alive in the 17th Century indicating she has lived for more than four hundred years. She could even have been alive for millennia, as the Hand was believed to be responsible for the destruction of Pompeii in 79 AD. Her immense longevity also allows her to remain physically very strong and fit despite her appearance of an elderly woman.
- Chi Manipulation: Gao has shown the ability to manipulate her Chi and expel it from her palms in a similar manner to Danny Rand's Iron Fist. This allowed her to generate and project great kinetic force through her palm. This allowed her to shove Iron Fist against a wall, blast through a door reinforced with a dumpster on the other side, and even shoot cars across the room with her palm attacks, it should be noted that her palm technique is shown to be inferior to the Iron Fist.
- Enhanced Strength: Regardless of her smaller stature, Gao has shown to possess incredible strength during her fight against Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, as she was able to match both of their enhanced physical abilities.
- Enhanced Endurance: Gao has extreme endurance as she was able to withstand powerful blows from Jessica Jones without any lasting effects or injuries from the attacks.
- "I speak many languages."
"All of them."
- ―Madame Gao and Wilson Fisk
- Omnilingualism: Gao is fluent in Mandarin, English, and Japanese, and she claims to be able to speak all languages.
- Master Martial Artist: Gao is extremely well trained in martial arts, able to push Daredevil to the floor and sliding a few feet with a strike to the chest, although he was still suffering from his injuries taken in the duel with Nobu Yoshioka, her appearance as a frail old woman fooled Daredevil enough to catch him by surprise. He even spat out blood due to the force she applied into her hits.
- Drug Resistance: Gao has shown to be immune to Sodium Pentathol when interrogated. Being repeatedly exposed to similar drugs in the past has allowed her to develop a strong resistance to the effects of such substances.
- Master Tactician: Due to her extended length of life, Gao has gained immense life experience and wisdom akin to a wise master strategist and had been shown to plan far in advance of her enemies, such as Daredevil or Iron Fist.
- Master Manipulator: Gao is adept at using observations to deceive, persuade, and unnerve others, only requiring seconds to get inside a person's head.
- Cane Sword: Her walking cane has a hidden sword which Gao used to execute King for failing her.
- Curved Blade: Witnessing Iron Fist summon the fist and soon to potentially kill Scythe, Gao threatened to kill Sabina Bernivig with a curved blade unless he had forfeited the Da Jue Zhan.
- Handgun: Fearing that Iron Fist would soon be killed in the crossfire, Madame Gao took one of Sowande's soldier's guns and executed another man to stop him firing at the Defenders and Iron Fist.
- Steel Serpent: Madame Gao's faction of the Hand manufactures and distributes a synthetic heroin drug that she sells and exchanges through Wilson Fisk and his associates as well as sell under the guise of Rand Enterprises.
- Poison: Many of the henchmen Gao yields in China have their weapons tainted with a lethal poison. She also provided the same poison in an agreement with Harold Meachum in killing two pilots and crashed the jet in the mountains. Upon its injection, it coarses through the victim's bloodstream progressively.
|Appearances of Madame Gao|
In chronological order:
- Madame Gao is inspired by the character the Crane Mother from the comics.
Behind the Scenes
- Steven S. DeKnight confirmed Gao is connected to the Iron Fist villain Steel Serpent, whose seal was visible on the heroin packets. This is seemingly hinted at by the stinger in the Iron Fist episode Dragon Plays with Fire, where Davos is shown to be plotting against Danny with Joy Meachum whilst Gao eavesdrops.
- Mindy Kelly and Jean Tree were stunt doubles for Wai Ching Ho in the role of Madame Gao.
- ↑ The Defenders: 1.04: Royal Dragon
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Defenders: 1.08: The Defenders
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Iron Fist: 1.09: The Mistress of All Agonies
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Iron Fist: 1.04: Eight Diagram Dragon Palm
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Iron Fist: 1.13: Dragon Plays with Fire
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Daredevil: 1.01: Into the Ring
- ↑ Translates to: "The man he shipped goods to himself, or to make you into idiot?."
- ↑ Translates to: "You have broken the balance without consulting us!"
- ↑ Daredevil: 1.05: World on Fire
- ↑ Translates to: You have become sloppy. And emotional. Just as the Russians became, in their final moments.
- ↑ Translates to: Recent events have been trying, I admit.
- ↑ Translates to: I am not here to pluck flowers from the thicket. This is a courtesy, because you have shown me respect. Restore your house to order, or I will begin dealing with Nobu and Leland directly. Gratitude for the tea.
- ↑ Daredevil: 1.08: Shadows in the Glass
- ↑ Daredevil: 1.10: Nelson v. Murdock
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Daredevil: 1.12: The Ones We Leave Behind
- ↑ Daredevil: 2.11: .380
- ↑ Iron Fist: 1.03: Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch
- ↑ Iron Fist: 1.05: Under Leaf Pluck Lotus
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Iron Fist: 1.06: Immortal Emerges from Cave
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 Iron Fist: 1.07: Felling Tree with Roots
- ↑ Iron Fist: 1.08: The Blessing of Many Fractures
- ↑ Iron Fist: 1.10: Black Tiger Steals Heart
- ↑ The Defenders 1.01 The H Word
- ↑ The Defenders: 1.02: Mean Right Hook
- ↑ Translates to: That's a question for our leader.
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 The Defenders: 1.05: Take Shelter
- ↑ Translates to: It is more than that. He is the one she loved. When she attacked me at first, I thought she was protecting her kill.
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 28.2 The Defenders: 1.06: Ashes Ashes
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 The Defenders: 1.07: Fish in the Jailhouse
- ↑ Translates to: "What is happening?"
- ↑ Marvel's Daredevil: Season 1 Spoiler Conversation with Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight