After years of wading through various Marvel street level based series leading to the natural progression of forming a super team, (As with The Avengers) here we are!
The Defenders, based on yet another superhero team from Marvel Comics, is an 8-episode series which assembles titled characters from previous shows-Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to fight against a shadowy criminal organization known as the Hand who is planning something sinister within New York City!
During the filler-esque pilot episode, Matt Murdock deals the temptation of donning his crimson tights but is reluctant due to survivor’s remorse which stems from his failure to save Elektra.
Daniel Rand is also guilt ridden and blames himself for abandoning the ancient city of Kun-Lun in which he sworn an oath to destroy the Hand, only bear witness to the city’s fall during the Iron Fist finale.
Luke Cage, released from prison, is starting his new life but not as a “Hero for hire”, but instead some guardian angel to a disillusioned teen who runs afoul of breaking the law. And this leads to the first interaction between Power man and Iron fist. The skirmish between the two comic legends, are short but effective.
Oh, and there’s Jessica Jones is still a lush who is trying to come to grips with her tragic past when she’s not working as a Private investigator.
Despite the slow burn pilot episode, The Defenders as a whole, is one of the better offerings from Marvel/Netflix (“Marvflix”?) the storyline and pacing picks up gradually with each following episode and the more you invest in the series, the further you will experience revelations within the plotlines.
The action is often sporadic while the fighting choreography has been bumped up a notch as you can tell from Finn Jones’ fighting techniques especially compared to the lackluster Iron Fist series.
The color techniques and clever use of cinematography provide a modicum of nuance within a few episodes. In other words, the use of mono saturation as palette signatures for each character i.e. Cage as Yellow, Daredevil with noir red highlights, Jessica Jones being saturated in some moody blue backdrop and so forth. Simple techniques like the panning camerawork are good for that dramatic aesthetic. Even Murdock’s pursuit of Jessica was impressive for a show that seems to be overall, shot on a limited budget.
The villains have more depth than most of the Marvflix series thanks to Sigourney Weaver’s uncompromising Alexandria and the return of fan favorite Wai Ching Ho as the enigmatic Madame Gao who in fact, has a few nasty tricks up her sleeve! Oh, and to top it off, there’s the return of Daredevil’s “old flame” who is integral to the show’s storyline.
As for the story, one of the protagonists plays a major part as some McGuffin and there is witty dialogue to be had, especially from Jessica, Gao, Murdock and Luke Cage. Speaking of whom, I enjoyed the scene that included the verbal exchange between Luke and Danny because of Social Commentary!!
” The difference is I live on their block- The difference is I’m not some billionaire white boy who takes justice into his own hands and slams a black kid against the wall because of his personal vendetta”!
“I know enough. I know privilege when I see it.
You may think you earned your strength, but you had power the day you were born”.
Before the Dragons, before the chi-you have the ability to change the world without anyone getting hurt”.
Throughout the series if our heroes aren’t beating up criminals, they’re constantly bickering or berating one another whether its due to doubt, suspicion or ego. What started from Avengers, is still a fun dynamic because this aint your dad’s Super Friends. The contrast between each distinctive personality prevents our heroes from falling into some one-dimensional ensemble cast.
One minor gripe that I thought was silly, is the incredulous reactions when the four realizes that each individual has a special ability. With all the events that has occurred within the MCU as hinted from the other Netflix shows, why was it so hard for Cage to be convinced that Rand got his power from a Dragon or how surprised Jones became when Murdock evaded her via leaping toward a fire escape?
It’s not as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is self-contained yanno. Also there were a few predictable outcomes during the last episode but like i said, it’s minor.
As to be expected, there are an abundance guest appearances of supporting cast members from the previous Marvel/Netflix series. Among them, is Rosario Dawson who reprises her role as Claire who one would think how her character would be tantamount to this series since she appeared as a supporting character for each of the four entries but logistically speaking, an old friend has a more pivotal role which is used to further form the group, kind of like an Agent Phil Coulson, but more of a smartass.
With only 8-episodes, I highly recommend binge watching at least 3 eps in a row just to get the ball rolling and once the rubber hits the road, you’re in for a hell of a ride! (Cliché footnote.)
You can find the reviews of previous Marvel Netflix series. Listed below.