Daredevil: Who Is Madame Gao And Where Is She From?


(NOTE: This article contains spoilers for the Netflix Daredevil series, especially episode 12, “The Ones We Leave Behind.” If you haven’t started watching yet … well, geez, what are you waiting for? Here are six reasons to get you started.)

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Of all the minor supporting characters in Daredevil on Netflix, Madame Gao might be the most mysterious. Like Nobu, the leader of the Japanese gang, this elderly, multi-lingual leader of a heroin ring — one whose employees willingly blinded themselves, or so she claimed — is more than she appears.

But while it was surprising to see Nobu as a fully trained ninja, it was even more shocking to see Gao drop Daredevil with a single punch and hear her cryptically tell Leland Owlsley that her home was “a considerable distance” more far away than China. What’s her deal?

That final comment was a hint that she might not even be of this world, which led many fans to suspect that she was from K’un L’un, the mystical city integral to the origin of Iron Fist. It’s a perfectly logical assumption, given that Danny Rand is slated to be the subject of his own Netflix show, and while Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones all have obvious comic book connection to each other (since Cage and Rand are old pals), it might be necessary to have a more direct link to tie Daredevil to the rest of them.

There’s actually a related theory that I’ve read on Quora and in other places that I like even better, though, which is slightly different but still related directly to Iron Fist. This one posits that Gao is actually the Crane Mother, a villain introduced in the Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja series The Immortal Iron Fist. It’s an excellent batch of comics, one you should probably read right now if you haven’t already done so. No rush. I’ll wait.

In any case, that series introduced the idea that K’un L’un was only one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, which every so often sent champions to have a Mortal Kombat-style tournament to decide which city would appear on the same plan as Earth. Crane Mother was the ruler of K’Un-Zi, one who had a beef with Danny Rand’s predecessor (as it was revealed he came from a long line of Iron Fists) for attempting to circumvent the rules of the tourney.

It’s actually way more complicated than that, in an awesome way, but that’s not relevant to our discussion. Suffice it to say that Gao’s mastery of martial arts would be easily explained if she was Crane Mother, and her comic counterpart also showed a willingness to meddle in affairs on Earth, albeit in a less direct fashion.

I suspect if this theory turns out to be correct, we won’t find out until toward the end of this wave of Marvel’s Netflix initiative, as Iron Fist is going to be the final solo series. File this one away until then.

Next: More Daredevil: Does Matt Murdock know Karen Page's secret?

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