Marvel’s The Defenders on Netflix has been hotly anticipated since it was officially announced back at SDCC. The culmination of the four heroes and their hotly different personalities coming together left a sense of cautious optomism in fans, especially considering that Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage or Jessica Jones was never a Defender in the comics. After years of waiting, as well as debating which of the four was the best (and worst), The Defenders has finally arrived on Netflix. In case you were wondering, you can dispel any worry you had about the series. Even with only eight episodes and a shortened season, The Defenders is a brilliant “ending” on the heroes’ initial stories.
All four heroes are brought together in a funny way, as well as a brilliant one with cinematograhy. The shortened count of only eight episodes is not a worry either. The first episode and a little bit of the second act as basically a continuation of each of the heroes previous season. Daredevil is struggling with no longer donning the mask. Jessica Jones still hasn’t taken on a new case as she fights her internal sarcasm with becoming a hero. Luke Cage is out of prison and back in Harlem. Iron Fist is back in NYC from K’un Lun and abroad. Although they don’t team up right away, the folks at Netflix did an excellent job of tying the shows into each other without the individual characters actually meeting. Each one of the heroes interacts with people from another hero’s universe, with it all leading to the first meetup between them.
It was an interesting way to do it, and probably the best way in hindsight. This let the studio have the heroes “meet up without meeting up” in a way so as not to rush the story in an already shortened season. This also added to the belief of there being “greater things at work”, as having things intertwined in such a way increased the aura of destiny around the heroes opposed to just some random meet up. I enjoyed this, as the show’s story felt deeper because of it.
The color scheme for each hero is incredible and it should win an award for best cinematography. Each time a hero is on screen, so is there respective color; Red for Daredevil, Yellow for Luke, Purple for Jessica and Green for Iron Fist. The beauty of it is that it’s not just a filtered lense but the actual setting. Scenes like Luke riding the train with his yellow hoodie bathed in the morning sunlight, before switching to Danny returning to NYC at night in a helicopter with the green backdrop of the NYC skyline. All of these things come to a head once they all gather in the Chinese restaurant. All four of their colors present on the wall and background merge directly behind Danny, in the form of a dragon. It’s a clear depiction of the team not only coming together as one, but as Iron Fist as the leader.
After they come together, they first interact against the baddies in pairs before the “Final Four” comes into play. As you could tell from the trailers, it’s Iron Fist/Luke Cage and Daredevil/Jessica Jones. This was the best pairing as not only do their stories intertwine, but their personalities are polar opposites of each other. Luke’s dry sense of humor tempers Danny’s exuberance, while Jessica Jones’ sarcasm counteracts Daredevil’s “matter of fact” approach. Some good comedy resulted along with the amazing fight scenes, which admittedly was Iron Fist’s worst least exciting attribute. Personally, Iron Fist was my 2nd favorite individual story after Daredevil S1. Although the fight scenes and story weren’t as flamboyant as the others, it was incredibly true to the comics. Danny Rand is still that 10 year old kid in a 25 year old man’s body, and we see him mature through the first season of Iron Fist. While it may have been more action oriented to include better fight scenes, it would not have been true to the evolution of his character.
This all changes in The Defenders as Danny is clearly the leader. Not only is he more mature, but he uses his abilities in more visibly enjoyable ways than simply busting up a wall. The Defenders acts a lot like Iron Fist season 1.5 as The Hand’s story is tied directly to K’un Lun. Seeing Danny mature as he did in Iron Fist and now The Defenders allowed for the threat of The Hand to appear more egregious than if Danny came in guns blazing from the get go. After all, change and overcoming adversity as Danny did always adds to the emotional immersion for the viewer, and it definitely shined through in The Defenders.
Elektra is back, but she is now the Black Sky. After being resurrected as The Hand’s most destructive weapon, she no longer has any memory of who she is or her past life. Daredevil really struggles with this, as he thought her dead for the better part of a year. Her association with the The Hand, and Sigourney Weaver’s role as Alexandra, are deeply shrouded in mystery. Not even Stick knows what Alexandra’s end game is, and he is the one who is supposed to have the most knowledge about The Hand. This end game comes into play quite quickly, however, with tie-ins to each of the hero’s respective storylines. I really enjoyed how it was revealed, as it had a good ebb and flow with the way the characters came together in the first couple of episodes.
With the re-introduction of Elektra comes The Hand’s true desire with Iron Fist. He is the key to what they want most, and it’s not the destruction of New York. (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler). This is instead a byproduct of their desire, and they are willing to do anything to get it. Elektra is the means to an end of satisfying this desire, and it all comes together incredibly smoothly. Sigourney Weaver’s role as Alexandra was the final piece of the puzzle, but it was nothing of shock value. She of course has her own mystery revealed, but it amounts to nothing more than her association with the other four fingers of The Hand, as she is one of them.(Also not a spoiler) The mystery itself is what the five fingers of The Hand represent, which is explained. This follows up on the Iron Fist season and rounds out the story arc with a fitting end.
Iron Fist is the true leader of The Defenders. The Hand is associated with all four of the heroes, some more than others. As Iron Fist, Danny not only brings closure and understanding to the other heroes’ story arcs, but realizes how they are associated with his own mission. There is of course a pretty big twist, which is surprisingly unexpected even with how much clearer things become with it. Maybe it was attitude that did it, but as surprising at the twist was, I still wasn’t that surprised if that makes sense. When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. And don’t worry, you can’t miss it
All of the heroes make it out at the end. I mean, this is obvious as everyone has a new season coming. One of them has a bit of mystery on their hands, which is only half solved by the final scene before it fades to credits. It leaves the thought of “Wait a minute. I knew it would happen, but how did it?” in your head. It’s a perfect culmination of the first five seasons and the overall best installment of the bunch so far. The stories merge brilliantly, the fight scenes are fluid, dynamic and intense, and it sets up the follow-up stories without leaving too much to the imagination. Eight episodes are the perfect length, and none of the characters’ stories were rushed in any way
Next up is The Punisher this Fall, followed by season two of Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones next year. Daredevil season three will begin filming in November, but a release date has not been set for it yet.
Overall, The Defenders is the best Marvel product so far, better than even The Avengers.
Score 90 / 100