The long awaited Marvel team up between the four heroes of the Marvel Netflix series has finally been released, and had an eight episode run. Was it worth all of the hype? My short answer is, sort of. There were a lot of flaws in the series, but overall it was enjoyable enough. It’s major flaws for me were the villain’s weak motivations (I’ll never like The Hand and their big reveal plot in this series was weak sauce) and as expected, Iron Fist. But before I dive into those aspects of it, let’s talk about the stuff I liked.
The first three episodes were really well done. We got a glimpse of each character on their own, with each of their scenes being styled after their individual shows. You definitely got the film noire detective vibe from all of Jessica Jones’ solo scenes, the Harlem street drama vibe from Luke Cage, the dark, gritty, realist vibe from Daredevil, and the….crappy kung-fu movie vibe from Danny Rand’s scenes. All of them flowed seamlessly together, and each individual scene stood on its own with its tone, while at the same time not feeling disjointed. I have to say, I’m really impressed with the writing in this series. They did a good job tying in continuity from both the MCU and the Netflix series universes. One thing I thought that was both a pro and a con, was that The Defenders left off directly after every series end. I’m not sure about when the series continue on their own, but I can imagine someone seeing Luke out of prison in the beginning of Luke Cage season 2 and being like “What?” if they didn’t watch The Defenders. At the end of the series we got a lot of major character development for everyone, and whether they’ll carry that over to their series’ we’ll just have to wait and see. Having what happened to Misty at the end however…I get they wanted to get her closer to her comic book counterpart, but I would have preferred that happen in Luke Cage as well. All in all, the writing was good other than those little snags forced onto the plot by the limitations of “This is a Marvel show, this has to happen and this has to happen”.
The characters were amazing. Jessica, Luke, and Matt have such great chemistry together. Danny was less annoying than when he was in Iron Fist, but still his whiny, white privilege billionaire self got on my nerves (it was really nice to see Luke knock him down a few pegs). My favorite relationship was definitely Matt and Jessica’s, I loved them in every scene they were in and you could tell that they had a great friendship blossoming between them. Same with Danny and Matt, near the end they had a nice comradery.
They were trying really hard to give Luke and Danny scenes together (For an eventual Heroes for Hire series, I’m guessing) and like I said Danny wasn’t as bad in this but…even the awesome that is Luke couldn’t make him bearable. I still wish they made Danny more like his animated series and comic book counterparts, because this angry rebel teen thing they’re doing here is just sooooo annoying. But once again, seeing Danny continually used as a punching bag for most characters was nice. The Defenders all were MVP’s in their own right, it truly felt like a team up where everyone was equal, had strengths and weaknesses to build off of, and were able to work together as a team. Unlike The Avengers, where it was a ton of A personalities coming together in spite of their differences, The Defenders are a bunch of broken, flawed people coming together, to form one, whole, powerful unit, and it’s really nice to see the diversity in not only their abilities, but their races, disabilities and the like. Just really, really well done ensemble cast here, the best part of the series for me was watching them work as a unit.
The supporting cast is every supporting character from their respective series, and seeing them play off of each other, and off of others not from their series was awesome. It really felt like this was a connected city, and that anyone could run into anyone. Everyone’s chemistry was great, and seeing them setting up things for other shows or spin offs was nice (like Misty and Colleen talking to each other).
Weakest part about the characters, was The Hand. I realize this is probably an unpopular opinion, but they are the most boring Marvel crime syndicate in the MCU! I don’t freaking care about a bunch of ninjas running around in the shadows, and finding out their motivations in this I was just like “Seriously? That’s it? You were more intimidating without any motivations”. Even interesting characters beforehand, like Madame Gao take such a hit when you find out she was peddling drugs and running an underground organization because “I don’t want to die ever eternal life is great”. Ugh, so cliché, so lame, and all of them just wound up being one note over powered big bads at the end of the series.
The plot was alright. After episode 4 more or less the series became a giant action set piece. A lot of flimsy motivations for characters just to move the plot forward, and a lot of things that happened that were supposed to be shocking but we know won’t last because all of these series’ have another season in the works, so the “suspense” for me was DOA. They revolved it all around The Immortal Iron Fist having to do something, and I feel like they did that because they wanted Danny to be important enough for people to want to keep track of, because the other three are far more interesting and dynamic than him. The way they got everyone to join together was a bit clunky, but I get they only had eight episodes and wanted to move things along. Overall, plot was the weakest point for me, and this was definitely an ensemble character piece more than anything because if you poke too hard at the logic of everything happening plot wise you’ll find holes like you wouldn’t believe.
So is The Defenders worth watching? I think so. If you like good action scenes, good characters, and all of these Netflix series, it’s worth watching to see a fun super hero team up for the entirety of the Marvel New York Universe. I’m half expecting Spider-Man or Tony Stark to pop up eventually with how much The Defenders seemed like it was tying into the MCU as a whole, but we’ll see. The show was labeled “series 1” instead of “Season 1” on Netflix, so I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of these mini series down the road.
Not all I have to say on this show, so be on the lookout for a few shorter posts on it! I had a lot more I wanted to say in this review, but while writing it I realized this already was getting a bit long so will just piece out the rest into other posts.
Did you watch The Defenders? How did you like it.