What is the Defenders?
The Defenders is Marvel’s latest Netflix offering, and having finished watching the 8 episode series last week, the following are some reflections on the first season of the show. This is a show that deserves a watch by any fan of the sum-of-its-parts, even if it does spend some time setting everything up to begin with.
The show follows a modern iteration of the Defenders team-up, which in the comics included such iconic heroes as Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. Here the team focuses on the title characters from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, as they team-up to take on the mystical and criminal threat of The Hand. The Hand, like Marvel’s other criminal organisation Hydra, has survived for centuries by replacing its members with numerous new replacements. Unlike Hydra, the Hand’s key members have virtual immortality due to an unknown substance which can resurrect them – an ability hinted at in the previous shows. Yet, this substance is running low and therefore the Hand looks to strike at New York in an effort to find a way to regain their immortal edge.
While the plot of this first season of The Defenders lacks some depth compared to its stand-alone series, the way in which the episodes progress are fascinating. The series is dotted with memorable highlights. The choreography of the large-scale fight scenes is incredibly vivid for example. Each character moves according to their differing abilities and unique style. This leads to a variety of dances of violent, energetic action. There are shocking moments, although, perhaps not quite as stunning or memorable as those in Daredevil season one. The Defenders is also full of dramatic moments, and some unique and interesting ideas.
The shows spends the first two episodes (a quarter of the show) focusing on the characters living individual lives that are gradually moving closer and closer together. This creates a slow-burning effect, that leaves the viewer somewhat restless and hopeful that the remainder of the show will be faster paced. And indeed it is.
As soon as the four heroes unite against the Hand in a large scale hallway fight, the pace picks up. More importantly the tension increases. These are four reluctant heroes who trust and distrust each other in differing amounts. Jessica Jones is a loner, who wants nothing more than to just return to her private investigating. Her sarcastic comments add a unique edge to the team. Daredevil, or Matthew Murdock, struggles with blending his public and private personas. Luke Cage, wants to defend his neighbourhood and does not care for the bigger issues of the Hand. Aside from how they affect his friends and family. Finally, here, Danny Rand’s character as the Iron Fist is redeemed. His naivete meets resistance from equals and new friends in his teammates.
The Defenders does not work on the same level as The Avengers. Yet it is a solid and engaging show. This is because it blends together the differing styles and themes of its original heroes. At the same time the show provides each character with enough screen time and development. This makes the entire season a worthwhile endeavour. You may find this show hitting you in the face with some awe-inspiring impact. That is if you can put aside your disdain of Iron Fist and ignore the shallower goals of the plot. All in all, The Defenders is well worth watching.