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Main Character Index > Villainous Organizations > The Hand > Five Fingers | Murakami's Faction | Madame Gao's Faction | Bakuto's Faction

The Hand

Appearances: Daredevil (2015) | Iron Fist | The Defenders (2017)

"Free from the fear of death, these pieces of shit step up, kill their master, take over, and paint the shores of the Far East with the blood of anybody who stands in their way. They grow in size, power, wealth, spread across Asia, and finally give themselves a name. Yami no te. It means, 'The Hand'."

A mysterious organization based in Asia; initially believed to be Yakuza, they are eventually revealed to be something much worse. In Daredevil Season 1, through their agent Nobu Yoshioka, the Hand are helping Wilson Fisk secure control over the New York underworld in exchange for control of a specific block in Hell's Kitchen, as part of something they call "the Rising".

  • Adaptation Name Change: In the comics, the leaders of each faction of the Hand is called Daimyō, the title bore by Japanese feudal lords. In the MCU, they are called "the Five Fingers".
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In the Marvel Universe, the Hand was originally a nationalist ninja clan from Japan, and only became corrupted when the Snakeroot, the worshippers of the Beast, infiltrated the clan. In the MCU the founders of the Hand were five members of the Order of the Crane Mother—Alexandra, Gao, Bakuto, Murakami, and Sowande—who wanted to use the bones of dragons to resurrect themselves. The elders of K'un-Lun felt this was desecration, and exiled them. These five exiles became the Five Fingers of the Hand, dedicated to "serving life itself" by never dying.
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  • Adaptational Wimp: While the Hand is a force to be reckoned with here, they are nowhere near as powerful as their mainstream comic counterparts. In this version, aside from a degree of Mind Control and the Resurrective Immortality the highest level members are given, the Hand are just a very powerful secret crime organization full of Badass Normals or higher level fighters. In contrast, the comic book version are a demon-worshipping Death Cult that can explicitly use magic and mystical rites, revive their members easily from a shared life force ritual even if they've been reduced to ash, and have all manner of beings from those with superpowers to straight up Humanoid Abominations. This version is also led long-lived evil humans, while the comic version is controlled by a powerful demon called The Beast and it's equally diabolic supernatural servants.
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  • The Ageless: Those resurrected by the Hand do not age beyond the time they were first killed. Harold Meachum has remained the same way for 13 years and though Madame Gao's true age is unknown, she mentions being alive at least since the 17th century. In fact, the Hand was founded for the purpose of discovering a way to keep its founders alive forever.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Hand have been around for centuries, if not millennia. When Stick explains the Hand's origins to Matt, he's forced to admit that even he doesn't know how old the Hand is, but does describe them as "ancient".
    • Stick offhandedly credits them with the destruction of Pompeii, suggesting that at the very least they've existed for over 1900 years.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: How they manage their Resurrective Immortality. It's a supply of Shao-Lao's bones the founders acquired when they were kicked out of K'un-Lun, but bringing Elektra back used up the absolute last of it, save the stuff lying underneath Midland Circle.
  • Arc Welding: The first season of Iron Fist retcons Madame Gao and her Steel Serpent operation into a faction of the Hand operating in parallel to that of Nobu's.
  • Audible Sharpness: Actually an important plot point, as due to their supernatural silence, Daredevil has to rely on the sounds of their weapons to track them.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The most frustrating thing about fighting them: they always get what they want.
    • Season 1 of Daredevil: Despite the death of Nobu, the Hand ultimately got Elena Cardenas' tenement building, and Nobu's death was just a temporary setback.
    • Season 2 of Daredevil: While Matt is able to convince Elektra not to join the Hand, Nobu accidentally killing her allows the Hand to recover her body and begin resurrecting her with the sarcophagus Nobu had. The only real victory is that Stick causing Nobu's permanent death has left the New York Hand leaderless, and that is just until someone strong enough emerges.
    • Season 1 of Iron Fist: Although Danny is able to drive the Hand out of Rand Enterprises and stop Bakuto's attempts to take control of the New York Hand, Gao manages to escape, while the Hand still have influence in the Roxxon Corporation and Midland Circle Financials. Additionally, Danny abandoning his duty as the Iron Fist left K'un-Lun open, allowing the Hand to launch an attack.
    • Deconstructed in The Defenders: while they managed to secure those wins, the fact is that they lost a lot of manpower, capital, and most importantly, the last of their reserves of the Substance. The Hand still operates like nothing is wrong, but it's clear that the Five Fingers are actually getting worried.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Suits and ties seem to be a standard outfit for them. You know, along with the Technicolor Ninja garb. Crossed with Hellbent For Leather, as their non-ninja Mooks wear suits but with leather jackets and leather ties.
  • Big Bad:
    • The organization as a whole serves as this for Season 2 of Daredevil, emerging from "hibernation" now that Matt and Frank Castle have taken out their potential rivals.
    • They also serve as this for Season 1 of Iron Fist, as Gao and Bakuto are vying for control of the Hand's New York operations, and want to use the Rand corporation to achieve this.
    • The organization serves as the central antagonists for The Defenders.
  • Came Back Wrong: If someone is resurrected by the Hand, they will be unkillable unless their head is removed, meaning seemingly mortal wounds will just heal or not be a problem for them. However, each time they come back, they become less and less human, eventually going completely insane.
  • Characterization Marches On: What we saw of the Hand when Matt was fighting them in Daredevil were exclusively ethnically Asian. Seemingly, criticism over falling into Orientalism and racial stereotypes led to the Hand being retooled as more ethnically diverse in Iron Fist, and a full example of Equal-Opportunity Evil in The Defenders, where most of the henchmen that participate in fight scenes are either Caucasian or African-American and the leadership is a Cosmopolitan Council. Possibly justified in that the Hand members shown in Daredevil were just the faction led by Nobu and Murakami.
  • The Clan: Madame Gao refers to them as such in "Nelson v. Murdock".
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Hand are much more pragmatic about their use of weapons in the MCU than the Marvel Universe. They seem to prefer traditional feudal-era Japanese weapons, but if the situation calls for it they'll use guns.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: Their leaders consist of a Japanese man, a Chinese woman, an African man, an Ambiguously Brown man portrayed by a Puerto-Rican with a Brazilian name, and a Caucasian woman. The latter two of indeterminate origin.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: They operate using front companies such as Midland Circle Financials and Asano Robotics or taking over already existing ones such as Rand Enterprises or the Roxxon Oil Corporation.
  • Child Soldiers: Some of their members are teenagers (occasionally controlled, sometimes indoctrinated for years).
  • The Dreaded: Fisk quite clearly fears angering them. Nobu just mentioning them in a few arguments with Fisk is enough to get Fisk to start being more agreeable. The hatchet-men of New York are terrified when Danny Rand mentions them, and immediately acquiesce to their demands.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Murakami and Gao's factions of the Hand play small roles in season 1 of Daredevil as backers of Fisk, but are never referred to as the Hand, and their ultimate plans are never revealed. Nobu's red ninja outfit (their comics getup) is the only hint as to who they are. They go on to be the Big Bads of season 2, as well as the first seasons of Iron Fist and The Defenders.
  • Elite Mooks: Their ninja are more than a challenge even after Matt learned to track them.
  • Enemy Civil War: In Season 1 of Iron Fist: with Nobu's permanent death and inability to capture Elektra alive, the New York Hand is in the midst of a power struggle between Bakuto and Madame Gao's opposing factions for control.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Hand has many members of different races and nationalities which includes Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Korean, English, and even Black, White and Hispanic Americans.
  • Evil, Inc.: Part of their plan for domination: the Hand have wormed their way into dozens of companies like Rand Enterprises and the Roxxon Corporation, just to name a few, allowing them access to large amounts of cash and the ability to move their resources and operatives wherever they need to go. They also use the corporations to give scholarships to members to get them into places in the community, like hospitals and City Hall.
    Bakuto: We are living in a new age where governments aren't the true controllers of man's destinies. It's corporations like Rand Enterprises that govern the world.
    • They also have their own shell company in the form of Midland Circle Financial, which is mentioned in Iron Fist and is promonently featured in The Defenders
  • Evil Power Vacuum: When Daredevil took down Wilson Fisk, the Hand realized that something was changing and went into "hibernation", thinking this would eliminate potential rivals. The subsequent campaigns by Daredevil, the Punisher, and Luke Cage against crime allowed the Hand to end up becoming the dominant power in the New York underworld, to the point that their word was more or less law among the people who knew about them.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: Averted. The Hand do in fact have their own internal disputes, with Madame Gao being on the outs with Bakuto due to her drug-dealing activities. Ironically enough, Bakuto does play this trope straight, using a more friendly and peaceful approach, treating its members with love and respect rather than acting like a crime syndicate.
  • Faceless Mooks: In typical ninja fashion, their clothing covers their entire faces except for their eyes.
  • Foil: Of HYDRA. While they both are ancient criminal organizations but the Hand uses corporations to expand its influence contrasting HYDRA's preferred use of governments and intelligence agencies.
  • Grave Robbing: They take Elektra's corpse out of her casket and place her into a sarcophagus to resurrect her as the Black Sky.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Nobu and Madame Gao are the only members to appear in Season One of Daredevil, yet their presence is definitely felt. Fisk certainly doesn't want to get on their bad side. More specifically, in Iron Fist Season One, Gao and Bakuto indicate that there is someone else pulling their strings, but don't mention any names.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Their motives are hard to determine until the end of The Defenders:
    • In exchange for helping Fisk, they want ownership of a specific block in Hell's Kitchen, which happens to be the site of Elena Cardenas' tenement building. They will accept only that block, and nothing else. According to Season 2, it's part of something called "the Rising", and involves significant amounts of excavation.
    • It pops again in Iron Fist when they demand that Rand Enterprises gain control of a pier for possibly the same reason.
    • Their ultimate goal is to activate a "Black Sky", the ultimate living weapon. What happens after that is unknown; according to Stick, the Hand has never been able to successfully activate one.
    • Their ultimate goal, and the purpose of the Black Sky, are eventually revealed in The Defenders: the Hand use dragon bones to resurrect themselves, and the city block they want sits on top of a fossilized dragon skeleton, the last known skeleton on Earth. The purpose of the Black Sky is to be a living weapon who can kill the Iron Fist and allow the Hand to conquer K'un-Lun to claim Shou-Lao, whose body is reborn after death, allowing them an infinite supply of dragon bones.
  • Human Resources: On two occasions, it's been shown their bases have basements where people are drained of their blood for... something, implied to have something to do with their resurrection abilities.
  • Killed Off for Real: By the end of The Defenders, the group as a whole is finished, with three of their leaders explicitly dead, and the other two buried deep underground or outright dead, while Elektra is likely dead as well, leaving the organization in tatters, if not completely obliterated.
  • Made of Iron: While lowlier thugs and soldiers of the Hand are as mortal as anyone else, the higher-ups, especially the Five Fingers, are able to withstand wounds that would kill any normal human being, even before one considers their Resurrective Immortality. Madame Gao, for example, regularly survives blows that would pulverize the bones in anyone her size and apparent age, and Bakuto walks away from multiple impalements and ignores gunshot wounds. Even lieutenants of Hand leaders like Nobu survive injuries that would be instantly fatal to most people, like getting thrown off the roof of an apartment building. Likely has to do with the dragon's blood they've been using for immortality.
  • Man of Kryptonite: Their ability to consciously control their bodily functions enables them to vanish from Matt's "world on fire". This naturally makes fighting them significantly more difficult. In Daredevil Season 2, Matt initially tracks them through their swords, but when they realise this and stop using them, Matt can't locate them until Stick tells him to start listening for their breath.
  • Master of Your Domain: Nobu can slow his heart rate and lower his body temperature, and his dialogue indicates that this is standard tactic for the Hand.
  • More Than Mind Control: While some are forcibly controlled, others are just mindlessly devoted to them after being manipulated by them for years.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: They are a criminal syndicate whose whole goal is immortality at any cost.
  • Necessary Evil: Fisk tells Wesley that working with them is such but does not elaborate.
  • Ninja: An evil cult full of them.
  • Overarching Villain: Their presence is heavily felt across the Netflix MCU shows, in a similar way to how HYDRA or Thanos are in the movie side of MCU.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Because the MCU is less fleshed out with nowhere near the accumulated history of the comic books not to mention the fact that the heroes are street level fighters, means that The Hand is more a secret Nebulous Evil Organization that influences the world from the shadows and, aside from the ritual to grant immortality using dragon bones, doesn't have all the magic and Super Natural Martial Arts that the mainstream version has.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: The Defenders reveals that, for all their The Bad Guy Wins moments in previous shows, the Hand's confrontations with Daredevil and Iron Fist have left them significantly crippled: resurrecting Elektra cost them all of their remaining Applied Phlebotinum, meaning death is now a very real possibility for them, their loss of Rand Enterprise has allowed Danny to collect information on their illegal activities (though he doesn't get to use them), and while they've successfully eliminated the Chaste, the multiple deaths they've caused trying to cover their tracks have started to attract the police's attention, and eventually causes Luke Cage to go after them. They still try to keep the facade of an all-powerful shadowy organization, but it's pretty clear they are getting desperate.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Their primary colors seemed to be black and red.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Stick claims that their secret to immortality is bringing the dead back to life. One of their ninjas had clearly undergone an autopsy previously, and Nobu returns from the dead after burning to death and being kicked off from a rooftop. In Iron Fist, it's shown that as long as the heads are attached and bodies aren't too mangled, they can keep resurrecting indefinitely three days after being killed.
    • The plot of The Defenders (and ultimately the entire overarching plot of the first two Daredevil seasons and the first Iron Fist season) hinges on this: the Hand were running low on the Substance, collected from dragon bones, used for each resurrection, which fueled their attempt to acquire the specific properties in Hell's Kitchen which were directly over the last known grave of a dragon.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant:
    • The Hand are traditionally Daredevil villains and have scarcely gone up against Iron Fist, while in Iron Fist their entire origin is connected with the Iron Fist and K'un-Lun, where they are sworn enemies of the city of K'un-Lun and it's the holy purpose of the Iron Fist to protect it from the Hand.
    • Serves as this In-Universe too, where they start off as adversaries to Matt, before Danny Rand faces off against them, though granted they mostly deal with different factions of the Hand (Matt had to fight Murakami/Nobu's faction, while Danny had Gao and Bakuto's factions).
  • Secret War: Engaged in one with Stick and his organization, the Chaste. And another with the city of K'un-Lun.
  • Stealth Expert: The Hand are so good at masking their footsteps and heartbeats that Matt can't track them. He tries tracking the noise made by their weapons, but they quickly get wise to it and stick to unarmed combat with Matt helpless against them. Stick manages to get through to Matt that the Hand have to breathe like everyone else and that he should listen for the sound of exhaling breaths.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: There are only few differences between them and HYDRA. They are an ancient, cult-like criminal organization with connections to supernatural forces, a massive network of agents hidden in positions of power and leaders prone to competing and sabotaging each other.
  • Superhuman Trafficking: They were the ones who smuggled the Black Sky to New York for Nobu to pick up. The following episode indicates that they are doing the same to other children.
  • Technicolor Ninja: Nobu's outfit from Daredevil Season 1 (pictured above) is bright red with black, traditional Hand attire in the Marvel Universe. In Season 2 the assassins that Matt fight in Ninja garb wear a version that is black but with red highlights and inner liner, so the red may just be ceremonial, or reserved for higher ranked members like Nobu.
  • The Undead: One ninja examined by coroners is shown to have autopsy marks in his chest, indicating he was already dead and brought back to life before being killed again. Given that Nobu was resurrected in Season 2, it's implied that the Hand members are undead revenants. Iron Fist confirms they can indeed resurrect people, and The Defenders confirms that they do so through the blood of dragons, harvested from their fossils. The initial process of resurrecting a person appears to cost significant amounts of the blood, but afterward they only need miniscule amounts, and then only if they're dying of old age. If they're healthy, they resurrect on their own after death so long as they're not decapitated.
  • Villainous Friendship: Despite their tension among each other and even numerous coups and Enemy Civil War's in the past, they still share somewhat of a bond, shown best at their shock and mourning when Sowande and later Alexandra are killed.
  • We Are Everywhere: Iron Fist reveals the Hand have managed to worm their way into nearly every part of New York's infrastructure. Hospitals, the NYPD, the mayor's office, even Rand itself. With the latter, they've been there for years.
  • With Friends Like These...: Starting coups and outright civil wars seems to be a normal thing for them, over the centuries.
  • Yakuza: What outsiders think they are. The Chaste know otherwise, and it's implied that Fisk might as well.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Hand have zero issues with executing underlings and agents who fail them in action. Especially since they can just resurrect them when they die and bring them back even stronger and more ruthless.
  • Yubitsume: A standard practice for the Hand. In Daredevil, when Stan Gibson's bodyguards fail to protect him, they tie strings on their fingers in anticipation of receiving this. Hirochi has them shot instead. In Iron Fist, Harold Meachum is to be subjected to this for defying Madame Gao. Harold kills them before they can, but still goes through it anyway to avoid Gao's worse punishments.


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