Round Table: Marvel’s Women (Part 5), Women of Daredevil

Gatto di Sangue: This round table we will talking about the women in the Daredevil TV series (last round table we discussed Nebula and Gamora). They were Vanessa Marianna, Madam Gao, Karen Page, and Claire Temple.

Gatto di Sangue: I thought that both Karen Page and Claire Temple were really strong female characters. They had actual personalities, unlike the damsels in distress or love interests that are usually featured in superhero entertainment. They added to the plot, not simply following it but driving it. Without Claire, Matt would’ve died several times. And with her research, Karen helped Foggy and Matt bring down Fisk.

Claire was influential to the plot by aiding and advising Matt.

Feral Atom: When we first met Karen, she was crying, definitely a normal reaction to what she had been through. This scene drew me in but created concern in the back of my mind. I thought “Here we go again with the damsel-in-distress routine.” Yes, Daredevil and Foggy rescue her, but she also demonstrates a conviction to justice that surpasses either of her male colleagues. Throughout, she acts realistically and reveals a vulnerable side, but overall, is quite courageous.

Overall, Karen was a sweet but determined character.

Gatto di Sangue: I thought that it was awesome when Karen picked up Wesley’s gun. She was smart, wiping her finger prints off the table and effectively getting rid of the gun. And she had a realistic reaction to killing him afterwards, too. She didn’t throw up or anything, but she also didn’t just shrug it off with a cheesy one-liner like it was nothing. The show has great balance.

Karen Page in butt-kicking mode.

Feral Atom: What about Madam Gao?

Gatto di Sangue: Oh yeah. She was a really cool, enigmatic character.

Feral Atom: Yes, enigmatic is a good description of her. Regal, zen and possessed of a quiet fury also describe her well. One of my favorite scenes from Daredevil is when she suddenly starts speaking in English. Fisk asks her what other languages she speaks. Gao replies “All of them.” I don’t think that was hyperbole either.

In the same scene, she also informs Fisk that she’s known he speaks Mandarin all along. She says, “It is a wise man who plays the fool, and a foolish woman who does not recognize it.”

She defeats Daredevil with a single strike, belying the frail old woman guise.

Finally, Leland Owlsley asks her what she’ll do now and Gao says,” I will visit my homeland, and reflect upon the future.”
Leland asks, “Home? China?”

Gao cryptically responds with “It is a considerable distance further. We shall not speak again.”

Given the symbol she uses on the heroin packets is the same as the brand on Iron Fist foe Steel Serpent’s chest, we’re assuming she hails from the mystic land of K’un Lun. Might she even be Crane Mother, ruler of K’un Zi, another one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven.

Fisk’s respect for Madame Gao and her wise, reserved manner made you respect her, too.

Gatto di Sangue: I found it interesting that the show painted a drug lord as a respectable character. She has a code of honor, using violence only when she deems it necessary, like when she and Owlsley poisoned Vanessa. I don’t usually look forward to villains’ reappearances, but the mystique that shrouds her piques my curiosity.

Feral atom: I think that she’s going to be prominent in the future, maybe in Iron Fist or the Defenders.

Gatto di Sangue: They’re kind of unlikely strong female characters. Secretaries, nurses and old women aren’t often portrayed as strong in media. They’re strong without being super-powered or knowing martial arts or anything like that; instead of physical strength, they have strong personalities.

Road-sine: Yeah, I thought that was cool. I’m not sure how I’d place Vanessa’s character, though. Throughout the series, she was both a strong and a weak character. She wasn’t easily intimidated, which you can see in her choice to forge a relationship with Fisk, and while she doesn’t seem to contribute to the plot at all, she is central to Fisk’s storyline, affecting his view in multiple areas, including his self-image. She was portrayed as Fisk’s weak spot, but she was also confident in herself, so it’s difficult to decide precisely how the show defined her.

Vanessa evoked change to Fisk’s lifestyle–not always for the better.

Gatto di Sangue: They were all above average. They were smart and adapted well to the strange situations that they were tossed into.

Road-sine: They still contributed to the plot.

Gatto di Sangue: Agreed. Next round table will be on the women in Thor.


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