Hello all you dragon punchers! Super Hubs here again and guess what: It’s quick review time!
The Defenders have a long and confusing history in the comics and have counted among their members most of The Avengers, a good portion of the X-Men, and several B-list heroes. Ironically, until the Netflix shows started airing, Daredevil had never been a part of the Defenders. They have fought inter-dimensional monsters, vampires, and all sorts of weirdos. Netflix obviously couldn’t afford to make the show quite that large scale, but what the show does have in common with the comics is a deep connection to New York City.
Unlike the Avengers, the Netflix shows have spent a lot of time presenting our heroes as people who have an almost pathological inability to work with others. Yeah, the Avengers are all A-type personalities and argue a lot, but they’re a team made up of a soldier, a CEO of a major multi-national corporation, two spies who have worked together for years, and a god who spends a lot of time fighting alongside his fiercely fashionable companions. The only one who’s a loner is Hulk, and even he has a legendary bromance with Tony Stark.
The Defenders, however, are all just assholes who happen to be good at punching. Seeing how the show would bring them together and convincingly make them mesh as a team was one of the things I was most looking forward, and it actually pulled things off. It even made me like Danny! What a twist!
As always, there will be spoilers. Like, right after the drop, so read no further if you want none!
Sigourney Weaver isn’t Mephisto. Maybe not all of you were aware of that rumor, but man was I hoping it would be true. Sadly, it wasn’t. She was a great villain, though. She plays Alexandra, one of five semi-immortal leaders of The Hand; at least at this point in history, she’s the big boss. Maybe. They made some flippant remarks about someone else that might be above her, and she has a weird catch phrase about “serving life” that comes across as some roundabout way of referring to something else, but nothing comes from that. But Alexandra is dying. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, but it sounds like her organs are turning to ash. So behind Alexandra’s menace and authority runs a vein of desperation, and man does Sigourney Weaver sell it.
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The first episode cuts between our four heroes in the aftermath of their shows. Iron Fist and Colleen are hunting The Hand through the world, Luke Cage is getting out of prison, Matt has given up being Daredevil and is a pro-bono lawyer, and Jessica is drinking. The scenes are bathed in each character’s signature color, and Luke’s scenes are accompanied by great music. It’s a little odd because his is are the only scenes that do this, so it feels like a music video whenever it cuts to him. It’s real cool and real stylish, but it feels weird alongside everyone else.
These first two episodes are all about setting the stage to bring the four heroes together. Stories like this are always a little contrived by their nature, and this one is no different, but it’s entertaining to watch and pretty clever. Jessica gets pulled into a case about a missing architect that leads her to a ratty apartment filled with explosives. She finds the last building he designed, a towering office building called Midland Circle. Danny and Colleen are led to the same building by investigating shell corporations that did business with Rand Enterprises.
Danny and Luke have a run in when Danny tries to interrogate a kid who Luke is trying to help turn his life around—turns out his new “odd job” was in service to the Hand. They fight and Danny is getting his ass kicked until he uses his glow power to punch Luke. Luke tells Claire about what happened, and she rolls her eyes so hard about having to meet Danny again, but she brings them together. Luke yells at Danny about punching things when he could be throwing his money around, so he decides to go to Midland Circle to corporate-shame the Hand. Luke shows up as well because of a clue given to him by that kid he was trying to help (who dies . . . RIP man.)
Meanwhile, Matt is Jessica’s lawyer due to reasons and he tails her to Midland Circle. So the four heroes are in the same place. Danny is lecturing Alexandra and some random Hand people and, surprise, they attack him. And our heroes come together and kick their butts!
This is easily the coolest fight scene in the show and all the heroes are riffing off each other perfectly. Elektra—who has been resurrected and has amnesia—shows up and fights them as well. She hesitates when fighting Matt, and it allows them all to get away. They hide out in a Chinese restaurant that is the most obvious visual metaphor ever, but dammit do I think it’s cool. (The restaurant is filled with red, blue, yellow, and green lights and objects and the colors all bleed together. It looks really cool.) They have the typical superhero team-up conversation about how they totally don’t want to team up, but then Stick shows up and they team up.
From here on, it’s actually a pretty simple story. The Hand wants Danny for a reason the heroes aren’t sure of, so the heroes try to keep Danny away from them. There’s a shocking betrayal, a couple of awesome fight scenes, some great banter, and Matt sacrifices his life even though there’s going to be a Daredevil Season 3. I could recap the whole thing, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already watched the show.
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Long story short, I give it a B+. I like that Jessica was such a major focus because Jessica is my favorite. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is that the show made me like Danny. A little bit. He was still an ass, but at least everyone was pointing out what an ass he was. I love how everyone just rolled their eyes whenever he said he was The Immortal Iron Fist. Which he said at least 4 times. But he was frequently funny, the way Iron Fist is supposed to be, and his chemistry with Luke was spot on. I want to see more of them together, and I really hope all those hints at Powerman and Iron Fist becoming a thing on Netflix pans out. We also got some setup for Daughters of the Dragon, which is even more exciting!
The Defenders is a great example of the simple joy of seeing heroes team up and punch things. The story isn’t particularly deep, the dialogue is a little stupid, and the villains’ plan is both incredibly simple and unnecessarily complex. Also Danny falls into literally the most obvious trap ever because he’s just so so dumb. Just like a comic book! It’s good stuff.
Hey! I was there, watching The Defenders as well! I feel slightly salty about this because we had intended to rewatch all the Netflix Marvel shows leading up to it/watch Iron Fist for the first time in my case, but we did not finish this endeavor. Thus, I was slightly like “Wait, where did we leave off with everyone from Daredevil? Who’s Bakuto? Did I miss, perhaps, the most Rosario Dawson by not watching Iron Fist?” But even so, I managed to hang in there.
I think I’d agree with the grade Super Hubs gave this—even though I generally object to grading/rating things because that’s unfair and you shouldn’t base whether you’ll engage with something based on an arbitrary letter or number of stars out of arbitrary number of stars some strangers give it. I had two major issues with this show throughout.
The first was that I felt I didn’t know enough about the bad guys. Sure, we’ve seen Madam Gao all over the damn place, but this was the first I’d ever heard of her being immortal-ish. And honestly, that doesn’t tell me much either! Like, what the hell does she want?! She just slithers away at the end of the show, so I assume she’ll be back in Daredevil season 3 or one of the other shows, causing ruckus because she just feels like it??? But as for the other four, they were completely new to me, and it didn’t seem like enough time was given to fill out their characters. I get that the Japanese guy likes to hunt and can miraculously keep his shirt clean while gutting a baby bear. And he hated Alexandra the most. But WHY? What was his issue with her? Then there’s the African guy who, aside from having amazing cheekbones, alluded to having really crazy powers of persuasion or something. I don’t know what I was supposed to get from his little “People tried to hold me captive and after 10 days of trapping them in their own city, they were bowing at my feet” story. Was that magic or no?
Also, I know why Danny, a white guy, managed to be in K’un-Lun. But why are the five members of the Hand all different races and clearly different ages but they claim to have been in the sacred city at the same time? I just needed a little more information!!
Secondly, and perhaps you’ll say that this isn’t the point of the show, but: HOW COULD JESSICA, LUKE, CLAIRE, AND MATT (and hell, we’ll even throw Misty in here) ALL BE IN ONE LOCATION AND NOT TALK ABOUT THE NEBULOUS BANG CIRCLE THEY’VE GOT GOING ON HERE?! I mean, honestly. Luke just ghosted Jessica after he recovered from her shotgun-blasting his face—Danny’s reaction to this was hilarious, by the way—so he never got to hear her say to his conscious face that she could see a real future between the two of them. Claire quashed the romantic potential between her and Matt because of his Daredevil heroics, then turns around and is more than willing to “get coffee” with Luke after ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING HIM to be a hero. I really thought there would be some small conversation to acknowledge these facts, which makes the last scene between Jessica and Luke (wherein he says that he’s really, really glad she didn’t give her life like Matt did) all the more frustrating! Why are we trying to imply that there’s going to be something to their future if they haven’t even acknowledged that he’s actively dating someone else right now? Come on, people. Be adults!
So those are my two cents. I was definitely over Danny in all of his super-serious “I am the Iron Fist and this is my sole responsibility” moments but here for his “I’m the hilarious youngster who’s amazed by us all” moments. I was curious about how they’d blend the very clear but different vibes from these four shows, and once the gang came together, I don’t know what the vibe ended up being. I liked what happened, but it was happening a little fast for my taste and a little too reactive for me to feel like it made its own name among the other shows. It could’ve used two more episodes in the way that all the other shows could’ve used three less. I’d be down to watch another season though.
Thanks for your time! *kisses*
Well, that’s it for us. How’d you feel about The Defenders? Let us know in the comments! We’re always down to get into arguments about nerdy crap.
Here’s hoping you find as fierce a coat-smith as Alexandra,