For those of you who haven’t watched the entire Netflix Marvel’s The Defenders yet, this review does contain mild spoilers. The Defenders is a superhero team up of Marvel’s heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. They each have their own series, and you should probably watch those before you watch the Defenders.
The Defenders starts off by re-introducing you to the main characters, right where they left off from their own series. It takes three episodes for the team to team up, and some people like this build up, whilst others like myself hated it.
The individual characters have all had their own series. We’ve seen their character developments and we’ve seen their powers. It might make sense to reintroduce them for anyone going to watch the series without watching the individual character shows, but even then, they don’t do a great job of explaining things. It feels a lot more like a really long, drawn out tease.
This, of course, to set the story for the main villain plotline. How do we get Daredevil out of retirement? How do we get Luke Cage to care about an area bigger than Harlem? Why is Jessica Jones even part of this team? I can understand why it took a while to get everyone together. Yet a show about a team of superheroes doesn’t actually show the team together for nearly half its duration feels wrong to me.
After 3 episodes everyone finally meets everyone else. But it’s jarring. The fact is, the individual series all had their own vibe, and the characters matched that. In The Defenders, they needed to set a tone that fitted with everyone. I don’t believe this really happened.
Daredevil is by far the most well acted. Jessica Jones and Daredevil do ok together on-screen and both of them share a similarly dark and brooding tone. Luke Cage acts a calm down the other protagonist’s hot tempers. By doing this, however, he also comes across as a little bland. Danny Rand is the most hot-headed and also most immature.
I think Danny’s attitude is meant to bring everything up to a more light hearted mood. You can’t have everyone dark and brooding. However, he comes across as selfish, bratty and I honestly disliked his scenes the most. I would much rather watch the other three go on team adventures.
Iron Fist 2
I think one reason I disliked Danny so much is that his show, Iron Fist, was one of the weakest out of the individual shows. The Defender’s storyline feels a lot like it should be Iron Fist season 2.
Danny is fighting the Hand, which takes him back to New York. Everyone else joins in because the Hand is threatening all of New York, and they want to protect it. We follow straight from where Danny left us in Iron Fist, and there’s no big link to the other character’s storylines.
Everything seems to be about Danny. The Hand wants Iron Fist. K’un L’un is mentioned a ridiculous number of times. The villains have made appearances in Daredevil before, but overall they still feel like Iron Fist’s enemies.
The Villains really fell flat for me. Wilson Fisk from Daredevil, Killgrave from Jessica Jones and Cottonmouth from Luke Cage were all great villains. They were charismatic, formidable and had solid explanations for the evil-doings.
The Hand has been hyped up as this ultra powerful, super evil group of immortal badasses, and yet they are so weak. In battle sequences, we never see the heroes ever be in real danger from the villains. We never see the villains do anything to deserve their reputation.
These martial arts experts who have lived for centuries and collectively rule a large chunk world’s underground just don’t feel like a threat. Their minions are easily dispatched. Their ultimate weapon is defective. There’s not even any cool scheming or one-step-head mind games.
There are some good parts in the show. Most people have reacted very well to it in fact. It’s good for those who are invested in the characters and are fans of comic book shows in general.
The action scenes are better than in Iron Fist, and there’s quite a lot of them. There’s banter between the characters which is fun. You get to see a lot of support characters from the previous shows which is great, because who doesn’t want to see more of Foggy? Actually, can we just have an entire show dedicated to Foggy being a lawyer?
The cinematography is pretty neat. The use of colour palettes is wonderful. There are a lot of easter eggs for fans, and you should watch the entire end credits at the end of the show to see a bonus teaser.
Overall Netflix Marvel’s The Defenders series was ok. A solid 6/10, which these days doesn’t really count as a pass anymore. I enjoyed it enough watching, but I would never bother to watch it again, and I’m not exactly bothered whether there is a season 2 or not.
I think the problem comes down to the project being rushed. Marvel has had so much success with superhero teams, such as The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and to some extent Agents of Shield. They obviously want to replicate that with their Netflix shows.
There’s definitely a market for it as well. However it feels with each new series, the level of writing goes down. Daredevil was amazing. Jessica Jones almost as good. Luke Cage had a great first half and a shaky second half. Iron Fist was a bit of a mess but still ok. The Defenders feels like it took some good ideas from Daredevil, added Jessica Jones and Luke Cage but totally wasted their potential, and gave it Iron Fist’s weak writing.