Spoilers for The Defenders Episodes 1-4 beyond this point! If you’ve been watching each of the Netflix Marvel TV series up to this point, you know that the Hand, the mysterious ninja-heavy organization that both Daredevil and Iron Fist have gone up against, has a lot of secrets. Now, thanks to The Defenders, our heroes are finally learning some of those secrets for themselves, including who’s in charge of the whole organization. But one of those leaders still remains a mystery — who is Murakami in The Defenders, and what is his whole deal?
Murakami (as played by Yutaka Takeuchi) first appears in Episode 4 when Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) finds him dissecting an endangered “moon bear” in an empty room of what looks like the Hand’s public headquarters. He speaks only Japanese in the scene (Alexandra speaks back to him in English), and even though it’s obvious from the conversation that they’re both prominent leaders of the Hand, it’s unclear whether he’s Alexandra’s superior or her equal in the organization; maybe they take turns being in charge? Either way, he’s definitely not afraid to call her out for what he believes is poor leadership, and certainly doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. Or bloody, Both? Definitely both, it seems like.
Stick later sheds some more light on the situation when he tells Luke Cage, Danny Rand and Matt Murdock (in classic Jessica Jones fashion, she already bounced) that Murakami is one of the original five fingers of the Hand, who split off from the Chaste so that they could harness supernatural powers to achieve immortality. Murakami, he says, was the guy who pulled the string behind Nobu in the first season of Daredevil, and is a secretive, “evil piece of sh*t.”
As far as I can tell there’s no one in Marvel Comics history with the name Murakami, which means this character is probably entirely a creation of the TV series. That’s not unsurprising, given that there’s also no Madame Gao and no Alexandra in the comics, either — the Netflix universe must be looking to do something a little different with the leaders of the Hand.
Murakami is also the only Japanese leader in the organization; the other four are Madame Gao, Alexandra, Sowande (the African man in white), and Bakuto, who died at the end of Iron Fist. This means he probably had a particularly instrumental role in founding the group, since they definitely favor ninjas as their soldiers of choice. And even though Alexandra is now the leader, even she seems a little afraid of the guy. I mean, how do you go entire generations of history without asking a dude for advice?
In any case, fans will probably learn a lot more about Murakami as The Defenders unfolds. But not too much — after all, he is the most secretive one of them all.