The Undefendable Defenders

August 19th, 2017

This post is about the Defenders series on Netflix. No major spoilers in the post (I think), but just be warned!

Yesterday saw the release of the somewhat anticipated The Defenders, the so-called Avengers of the small screen. It was supposed to represent the culmination of the same formula that worked so well on the big screen, bringing all your favourite heroes together all at the same time. I’m saying it was supposed to, because it really wasn’t the experience I took away.

For those who don’t know who the Defenders are1, let me give you a brief history. The collective of heroes known as the Defenders is made of the four New York City protectors: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. These names should sound quite familiar to Netflix’s viewers since they all had at least one season of independent stories each before joining forces this summer.

Daredevil was the one that kicked off the MTU2 and is the one so far with two singular seasons under his belt (with Jessica Jones currently filming the next one) and he’s one of the most popular of the four, closely followed by Luke Cage. I personally liked Jessica Jones more than Cage, but it was a close fight between the two.

The most problematic character of the four is certainly Danny Rand, a.k.a. the Immortal Iron Fist. His singular season was a bit of disaster, with a terrible critical response. The writing was certainly of a lower quality when compared to the others, but mostly in my opinion was the actor’s performance that brought down the character.

Unfortunately for us, the story of the Defenders heavily rotate around Danny Rand and his relationship with The Hand, the evil organisation headed by Alexandra, portrayed here by Sigourney Weaver. If the character of the Iron Fist was a terrible one in his own series, in the Defenders he shines for how dumb he is at every possible occasion and cross road along the way. He doesn’t seems to be able to make a good decision and he gets pounced by both the enemies and his own friends, while they try very hard to reason with him.

Speaking of his friends, the Defenders doesn’t only bring the heroes togheter, but also all their respective supporting cast, making this show more crowded than the airport scene in Captain American: Civil War3. Due to this over abundance of characters, we spend the first three of the eight episodes catching up with everyone’s lives while the underlying story doesn’t really progress that much. By episode four we have all the heroes together and we can finally proceed, but it still feels three episodes too many.

The more the story proceed the more the dynamic between the four heroes solidifies and you can summarise it as follows:

  • Luke Cage is the moral compass of the team. He’s strongly aware of their responsibilities toward the innocents people gravitating around the story and never fails to reprimend the Iron Fist for all of his stupid actions.
  • Daredevil keeps struggling with his own soul. At the end of season two of his own show he had kind put the red suits away seemingly for good and even here he struggle with putting it back on, but when he does, he starts to shine.
  • Jessica Jones feels under-utilised in the show, mostly playing a supporting role. She keeps her usual attitude of being in the action without actually wanting to be there. In the end she saves the day, but still I would’ve personally loved to have seen her a bit more active as she’s an awesome character and Krysten Ritter does a great job with her.
  • Iron Fist. He’s just to dumb. Have I said already? Still he’s very dumb. His greatest scene in this series is when he gets schooled by Luke Cage about white privilege. He embodies everything wrong with the show but unfortunately we are stuck with him.

The other dynamic in the show is the relationship between Elektra and Daredevil. Their love interest is the second underlying thread in the story which will put the Devil of Hells Kitchen in very difficult positions until the very end. What you also realise is that him and Iron Fist are the real protagonists of the story, leaving Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as more supporting parts of the cast. With so many people on screen it was to be expected that someone was going to fall of the order, still I wished it was Iron Fist. He’s really so dumb.

Now, what’s the takeaway from the Defenders? All in all it was a good series, showcasing once again the ability and the depth of characters that Marvel is able to play with. The writing on the show wasn’t the finest we’ve had ever seen, but it has prepared for what is coming in the future. We know more Jessica Jones is coming, we hope for more Luke Cage and Daredevil, we are happy to say goodbye to Iron Fist4.

An enjoyable few hours, a recommended watch, but far from being unmissable.

  1. Why would you read this article if you are among these people? 
  2. MTU as in Marvel Television Universe as opposed to the MCU: Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t know if MTU is a thing, but it sounds good to me. 
  3. And possibly even more crowded than the upcoming Infitiny Wars. Who would have thought it was even possible? 
  4. He will easily be replaced in our minds by The Punisher who just released an awesome trailer.