‘Iron Fist,’ ‘Daredevil’ Villains Explained: Madame Gao, Steel Serpent & The Hand

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Daredevil’ s villain situation was confusing enough already. Between Kingpin, Blacksmith, the Yakuza, Madame Gao, The Hand, Nobu, the Russians and The Punisher, keeping track of all the small intermittent details is almost impossible on first watch unless you're some sort of expert, not to mention it’s been a year since Daredevil Season 2 released. So for fans who watched the new Iron Fist trailer, you probably need a refresher about the connection between Iron Fist’s upcoming villains and Daredevil’ s old foes.

Madame Gao

By the end of Daredevil Season 2, we don’t see much of Gao, but now she’s creeping around in the Iron Fist trailer. Since Danny Rand is a sworn enemy of The Hand, the most intuitive reason for Gao’s presence is that she’s related to them somehow. But Gao’s arc is interesting, because her agenda doesn’t seem to be about the drugs and she seems somewhat detached from The Hand. There’s a reason Nobu developed a stronger relationship with Fisk than Gao. She also seems to be familiar with Daredevil and mysticism, which could explain why we could see more of her in Iron Fist. She took Daredevil down with a single punch in Season 1.

Madame Gao's encounter with Daredevil.
Madame Gao's encounter with Daredevil. Marvel

On the surface, she seems to be just a drug dealer in Daredevil , but her connections go deeper. She developed a working relationship with Wilson Fisk, Nobu and the Russians. Daredevil eventually tracked her down to a warehouse and destroyed her drug supply. Afterword, Gao seemed to disappear, not returning until a rival dealer, Blacksmith, started to invade her territory.

Madame Gao's heroin.
Madame Gao's heroin. Marvel

Daredevil appears in Gao’s quarters, asking her where he can find the Blacksmith. She directs him to The Hand's location and the two leave on decent terms. Although Gao’s connection to The Hand seems like he most obvious, her only relationship to them seems to be the drug trade. She worked closely with the Hand’s leader, Nobu before he was killed by Daredevil (the first time) and that seemed to be the extent of it. Nobu was resurrected soon after, and struck a deal with Fisk to help him bring a shipment in from Japan. It was a boy called Black Sky, who Stick ended up killing.

Crane Mother?

Gao is an odd character. She has blind servants and says her home is “a considerable distance” further away than China. Which poses an interesting theory: Is Gao the Crane Mother, or at least from one of the seven capital cities of heaven, which K’un-Lun is part of? In the comics, The Crane Mother is the ruler of K’Un-Zi, an adversary of Danny Rand and previous Iron Fists.

Madame Gao and her blind servants packing heroin.
Madame Gao and her blind servants packing heroin. Marvel

This whole complicated storyline with Madame Gao sitting right in the middle is very peculiar and an Iron Fist scene between Danny and Harold Meachum revealed at New York Comic Con makes it even more confusing. Harold mentions Crane Mother by name, and Danny appears to know who she is.

“I understand you were taken in by some monks by order of the Crane Mother. Where exactly is the monastery?” Harold repeatedly asks Danny until he responds, “Ku’n Lun.”

Danny explains Ku’n Lun is one of the seven capital cities of heaven. Danny says he was a warrior there. “What kind of warrior are you?” Harold asks. That’s when Danny reveals he’s a sworn enemy of The Hand. “I’m the only one who can do it,” Danny says after Harold asks how he plans on defeating them.

The Hand

Danny Rand is also revealed he’s a sworn enemy of The Hand in the first Iron Fist teaser. So you best believe he’s going to find out about this whole Black Sky situation somehow, and possibly even run into Daredevil along the way, who still has unfinished business with the organization.

The Hand in 'Daredevil.'
The Hand in 'Daredevil.' Marvel

Even though Nobu burned to death in front of Daredevil’s eyes, The Hand resurrected him again and began searching for a new Black Sky to use to fight against the Chaste, an organization that exists purely to stop The Hand. Meanwhile, The Hand began abducting and brainwashing people into giving blood to prepare for the Black Sky’s arrival.

Nobu captured Stick to ask about what he knew about the Chaste and that’s when Elektra appears, hoping to kill Stick for attempting to murder her. Daredevil shows up to save Stick, the Chaste’s leader, and after this encounter, The Hand goes balls to the walls in search of Daredevil to get back Elektra and make her fulfill her destiny as the Black Sky. But the final battle left Nobu actually dead, and Elektra still in the hands of The Hand.

Elektra is in The Hand's custody.
Elektra is in The Hand's custody. Marvel

What kind of evil weapon is The Black Sky, and why would Stick need to protect Elektra from her own destiny? It’s no coincidence that Claire discovered the dead members of The Hand were dead once already, so this has got to be part of the resurrection process. Also, why is The Hand protecting a huge hole in the ground? Maybe these questions will be answered in Iron Fist .

Steel Serpent

This is the name of Gao’s heroin and the symbol is also seen in the new Iron Fist trailer. But there’s more to this story. If you’re familiar with Iron Fist, you know his powers originate from K’un-Lun and his training with Lei-Kung, the mystical city’s Kung-Fu master. But Danny wasn’t his only student. Lei-Kung’s son, Davos, like all males of K’un-L’un, trained to become the Iron Fist. Davos didn’t train with Danny, but Danny’s father, Wendell Rand.

The steel serpent symbol is in 'Iron Fist' too.
The steel serpent symbol is in 'Iron Fist' too. Marvel

During Davos’ quest to defeat Shou-Lou and obtain the power of the Iron Fist, Wendell Rand proved a better candidate, defeating Davos in battle. Though Wendell never battled Shou-Lou for to obtain the Iron Fist, Davos was ultimately defeated by the Shao Lau dragon without the city’s blessing, embarrassing his father. Shamed because of Wendell and envious when Danny Rand defeated the dragon, he was exiled and has been on a quest for vengeance ever since.

The Steel Serpent and Iron Fist at odds in the comics.
The Steel Serpent and Iron Fist at odds in the comics. Marvel

Davos is eventually embraced by the Crane mother, who asks him to be the champion of K'un-Zi in exchange for killing Iron Fist. That’s where the Steel Serpent comes into play. In the comics, the Steel Serpent doesn’t represent drugs. Davos is the Steel Serpent. The Steel Serpent’s symbol, which is on Davos’ chest, is what’s stamped on the heroin packages. So Madame Gao being Crane Mother would certainly be a departure from the comics in some ways, but it could make sense.

So what do you think? Why is Iron Fist a sworn enemy of The Hand and will he team up with Daredevil? Let us know in the comments below!

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