I just finished watching Marvel’s The Defenders. Should I add “Season 1” to this, as if it’s a foregone conclusion that there will be more? Yeah, maybe I should. The Defenders are a timeworn staple in the Marvel Universe, and it’s doubtful that we won’t see a second season, at least.
The Defenders are the anti-team super-teamup that Marvel is famous for. The original incarnation in the early ’70s featured Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. The Silver Surfer also became a member at some point. The un-team featured a rotating roster of superhero characters during the intervening decades. My experience with the comic books ended a long time ago, so I never knew a team-up that included Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
But, that’s what this Netflix series is all about, a great mashup of all of its successful individual Marvel series to date.
It’s length is perfect. 8 episodes. The writing is tight and focused, with no room for fluff. There is a clearly delineated three-act structure. Bring our heroes together; present a joint problem for them to solve; show how they solve the problem. That that’s what these episodes do.
I am impressed with how our “heroes”—and I use the quotation marks because only Daredevil seems to fit the mold of the traditional superhero as our story begins—are brought together with the tone of each individual series kept intact. Iron Fist was everyone’s least favorite Marvel-Netflix series (including mine, even though I think I liked it more than most), but he seemed to be a integral part of the team. This seamless joining of all the series was accomplished by bringing together the side characters, which included Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, Trish Walker, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing, and the ultimate shared side-character, the Night Nurse Claire Temple, who has played a part in all of the shows. The more Rosario Dawson the better, in my opinion.
The enemy this time is The Hand, of course. Their leader turns out to be Alexandra, played to the hilt by Sigourney Weaver, who resurrected the Black Sky, who was Elektra, Daredevil’s one-true-love. Madame Gao and Bakuto are also on hand, as is an African warlord whose name I think was Sowande and a Japanese guy whose name escapes me all-together. These leaders of the Hand make their HQ in the Midland Circle building which is built above that great hole in the ground that we first learned about during the Daredevil series. As it turns out, there is another source of the ‘substance’ that allows the Hand to lead multiple lives deep underground under the Midland Circle building, but it turns out that the Iron Fist is the key to opening this source. In this way, Danny Rand remains relevant during this series: he is the key to the Hand’s ultimate goals, plus he is rich and has great connections. He may be our least favorite hero, but he has his uses.
SPOILERS: Elektra kills Alexandra and takes over the Hand, and the ultimate showdown is Elektra and Daredevil, who are battling it out a mile underground while the Midland Circle building is imploded above them. All of the characters are left believing that Matt Murdock (and Daredevil, of course) is dead at the end of this ultimate battle. We see our individual heroes going their separate ways, back to their own individual series, apparently, all thinking that Daredevil sacrificed himself for the city.
The very last scene shows that Matt Murdock is alive. But, that’s how it ends.
I loved this mini-series. Of course, I’ve loved all of the Netflix Marvel shows. I’m looking forward to The Punisher, which is next, and then more of the regular series next year. This was all good fun, and I recommend it highly to all of you.