Come As You Are: A Review of The Defenders

Image from The Playlist.net

I was one of those Marvel fans who could not wait for The Defenders to drop on Netflix on Aug. 18. Ever since I saw the teaser trailer that premiered at San Diego Comic Con in 2016, I eagerly anticipated the series that would bring together Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. I really loved the first two seasons of Daredevil and enjoyed Luke Cage. I watched a few episodes of Jessica Jones, but I admit I could not finish it because Kilgrave gave me the heebie jeebies. Also, I fast-forwarded through a lot of Iron Fist because I was not a fan of the character or the writing. In any case, I still binge-watched The Defenders when it came out. In my review (there will be spoilers for each Defenders’ series and for the show itself, so this is your warning), I will go through each Defender and give my thoughts on each character’s storyline in the series, along with some overall thoughts at the end. 

Daredevil (Matt Murdock): When we last saw Matt, his ex-girlfriend Elektra had been killed, his best friend Foggy had left their law firm, and he had just revealed to his love interest Karen that he was Daredevil. Now that some time has passed, we see that Matt has put away the devil horns and is trying to live a normal life as a lawyer. There’s some tension with Karen now that she knows he’s Daredevil. But it doesn’t take long for Matt to put back on the red suit when he learns Elektra has been resurrected by the mysterious criminal organization The Hand. Elektra is now The Black Sky (an empty vessel turned into an unstoppable killer), but Matt is convinced there is some part of Elektra still inside. Even though he is a “superhero,” Matt struggles with doing what is good and right. Many times he butted heads with the other Defenders over Elektra, but that’s one of the qualities I like about him — he’s headstrong, especially when it comes to people he cares about.

Luke Cage: When we meet Luke again, he is a free man after serving some jail time. He gets tangled up with the other Defenders when he finds out The Hand has been recruiting young men from Harlem to help with their shady operations. What I love about Luke is that he gels with everyone and tries to play mediator between the others. He also made Danny Rand (Iron Fist) tolerable, especially whenever Danny started going on about his Chi, and Luke pretty much channeled the audience by telling him to shut up. I can see a “big brother/little brother” relationship forming between them. I also adored seeing Luke’s relationship with Claire Temple blossom. I’m glad they’re still going strong. I also enjoyed seeing him interact with his past lovers like Jessica and police detective Misty Knight. All of their interactions were organic and even mature.

Jessica Jones: Like I said, I didn’t really get to know Jessica from her series, but I enjoyed watching her with the Defenders. Obviously, she is still dealing with the aftermath of Kilgrave when she takes on a case that leads her to The Hand. I liked seeing her as a PI going through files and doing research. You can tell she cares about her clients, even though she puts up a tough front. Like Luke, I enjoyed her chemistry with the other Defenders, but for the opposite reason: she likes to push buttons with her sarcasm. She had some pretty funny lines, especially with Matt.

Iron Fist (Danny Rand): In my opinion, Iron First is the weakest link when it comes to the Marvel/Netflix universe, so I wasn’t totally pumped when the series opened with Danny and Colleen Wing hunting Hand members in Asia, but the information leads them right back to New York City. Unfortunately, too much of the main storyline is placed on Danny, and we find out The Hand is actually looking for Danny because they need his iron fist to punch through a wall under New York City in order to retrieve the substance that brings the dead back to life. To me that reveal was kind of anticlimactic. Not only because the storyline hinged on Danny, but also because it made me realize how boring The Hand is as a villain.

That leads me to Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, the leader of The Hand. When her casting was announced, it was awesome news for everyone, but I’m afraid her character was wasted on the show. She is mostly shown giving monologues to Elektra, Stick, and the other members of The Hand. She isn’t given much to do but take care of The Black Sky and bark orders. I enjoyed Madame Gao much more as a villainous Hand member. I do admit the big twist at the end of episode six (where Elektra turns on Alexandra and kills her in order to became The Hand’s new leader) was pretty stunning — not only for the storyline, but they killed off Sigourney Weaver in the middle of the series?!

Overall, I enjoyed the show, but it didn’t really pick up until the third episode for me (it does take awhile until all four Defenders meet). The showrunners also ran the second season of Daredevil, so I could tell the writing and directing was much better (for example, the writing for Danny was better versus from his own series). And the amount of women and people of color that wrote and directed episodes was great!

But with only eight episodes, it didn’t really give me a chance to savor the opportunity of seeing Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist on the screen together. I did like seeing the secondary characters like Karen and Trish Walker interacting, and Colleen and Claire kicking butt together. But I think the weak points was the storyline centering so much on Danny and The Hand. I mean, it doesn’t have to be Avengers-style where they have to save the world, but I think the stakes should be higher.

Lucky for us, there are plenty more stories coming from the four Defenders in their own series, but if another season of The Defenders gets made, I’ll be there! And hopefully the trailer will feature another cool Nirvana song, and they can hire another kickass action star from the 80s to guest star. I wonder if Linda Hamilton is available?

2 Comments

  • Lane Robins September 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    I have yet to make it through one of the netflix marvel shows which is so aggravating. I WANT TO LOVE THEM. I thought surely Defenders will be the one. Except, like you, I just found the bad guys tedious.

    Reply
  • Shara White September 14, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Jessica Jones is my spirit animal. I adore her.

    Reply

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