TV Review: Marvel’s The Defenders (Season 1, 2017)

Released on Netflix in August 2017, The Defenders is the team-up of the four previous Netflix Marvel superhero shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter and Finn Jones reprise their roles as Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil), Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand (aka the Iron Fist), and the four are forced to work together (or at least, not against each other) in order to stop The Hand, now led by the mysterious but dangerous Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver), and the deadly assassin the Black Sky, formerly known as Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) at her command.

+ the acting from the main four – Cox as Murdock (not necessarily as Daredevil), Ritter as Jessica, Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Finn Jones as Danny Rand – is all fine. I was not a huge fan of Jones or Rand in their individual series, but here they are able to play off the others to make them far more likeable. Jones’ sarcasm works great with Cage’s law abiding optimism, and Rand’s privileged lifestyle (both as a superpowered monk, and a “rich white guy”) similarly play against Cage’s real world, sometimes ugly life. To be frank, I found Daredevil to be far and away the least interesting member of the four, especially as we built towards the inevitable Cage/Jones love thing, and Cage/Rand as the Heroes for Hire. Luke Cage was the real MVP of the show
+ I’ve always liked Sigourney Weaver, especially as the bad guy. Here, she is quietly terrifying, and an early scene with a returning actress from the previous shows makes it clear where she, as Alexandra Reid, stands in the hierarchy of the Netflix villains. Returning subordinates in her organization were mostly great to see, as well a few new faces who made a strong first impression (it is hard to say who or why without spoilers, but feel free to ask in the comments)
+ the plot is originally quite vague, but slows comes to the forefront as the show progresses. There are still some big questions once the series is over (the final scene, in particular, is one big conversation for another day)
+ for whatever reason, I really noticed just how many strong female characters there are in this show. Characters like Jessica Jones and Madame Gao, in terms of physical strength, of course, but add in Claire, Colleen, Misty, Trish, Karen and even Jeri Hogarth and there is a very respectable male:female ration in the end

I’ll be honest, this is all I wanted. And damn if I didn’t feel the love… eventually.

– I found the action to be mostly underwhelming. I was waiting all season for a big ‘punch-the-floor’ moment form Iron Fist, or for Luke to stop playing and tear a car door off to use as a shield again, but they never happened. I felt that for whatever reason I never felt just how strong Jessica and Luke should be here; they were tossing mofos across the room in their solo series, but here they were just knocking people out. I wanted something spectacular, and I don’t think I got it
– as with all of these Netflix series, and despite the shorter season than the 13-episode runs of the single shows, the pace really does drag in the middle episode or so, as our heroes spend the majority of their time standing around a man tied to a chair – looking for answers, perhaps, but exposition in these shows is always a drag
– so many characters are not given much time to shine. I understand this is a team up of the main heroes, but the fact that Trish Walker, Karen Page, Malcolm and Foggy, and even to a lesser extent Misty, are sidelined for the majority of the series (each maybe getting one “big” moment)

> whilst not a negative, it was interesting that there was no sight of, nor barely a mention of, The Punisher or Kingpin. Similarly, Miriam Sharpe is only mentioned in passing. Even the Meachum family is only mentioned once or so, and they are still technically running Rand Enterprises, aren’t they?
> it really is getting harder and harder to believe that Iron Man wouldn’t want to swooce on down and see what all the fuss was in his city.

Should you watch this show: Overall, I enjoyed this. At only eight episodes it was much easier to smash out in two sittings, and it certainly answered enough of the ongoing questions from the single-hero seasons. All four heroes were compelling, and two – Jones and Rand – left a far better impression on me than their solo series. The action was somewhat lacking, and the plot was hokey, as you’d expect from a superhero show, but this worked in the same way that The Avengers worked, however just on a far smaller scale.


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