Netflix and Marvel unite their titular heroes in The Defenders. Much like The Avengers films, the latest Marvel series unites its solo shows into a single mini-series. The product hits neither the highs nor lows of the individual shows. The Defenders unites the four heroes, but it isn’t nearly as exciting as the other Netflix superheroes. The majority of The Defenders is retreading material covered in better ways on the individual shows.
(If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, you can read a midway review right here!)
In The Defenders, our heroes go up against the evil ninjas of The Hand. The four main characters are forced to come together and stop the destruction of New York. It’s a fairly simple set-up, and unfortunately, it never gets more interesting. The Hand is already uninteresting, since we’ve seen them in both Daredevil and Iron Fist. The show hits predictable beats of characters squabbling, keeping secrets, even sharing a meal. Considering how shows like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage played with the superhero format, The Defenders feels very paint-by-numbers.
The Defenders makes an interesting move letting the team-up happen slowly. Since the team only has four members, it’s nice to get quality time with each. However, it reminds viewers how great those individuals shows are. The strongest part of The Defenders is watching how these heroes interact individually, before the team-up. The characters are interesting on their own, but their group dynamic is off.
One element of The Defenders that works is the heroes. The primary heroes get quality screen time, reminiscent of their solo outings. The spirit and characteristics of each protagonist feels pleasantly familiar. Daredevil’s identity crisis works, as does his pursuit of Elektra. Jessica is as sarcastic and sloppy as ever, which makes her all the more endearing. Luke is noble, and cares about the common man. These heroes retain the qualities that made them exciting, and they bounce off each other well.
While three heroes rock the team dynamic, one character is just as lame as ever. Poor Iron Fist can’t catch a break, even in a new show. Danny Rand is more annoyance than asset, constantly clashing with the others. The solo Iron Fist series was the least well received of the four Netflix shows. While the show could’ve lifted him up, the show keeps him down. At first, his earnestness is endearing, and helps bring the four together. However, he quickly becomes childish and angry, and a pain to watch. Whether you enjoy Finn Jones’ performance or not, the character he plays is terribly written. Iron Fist’s resolve in the end is nice, but takes far too long.
The big villain of The Defenders is also a let-down. Sigourney Weaver is a fantastic actress, but her character is horrifically boring. She plays Alexandra, one of the vaguely powerful Fingers of The Hand. We know she’s evil because she talks slowly and likes old things, but that’s about it. She stops Elektra from punching her once, but otherwise, Weaver’s kept out of the action. Sigourney Weaver is horribly wasted, stuck in the role of a lackluster villain.
The biggest problem with the series is how unnecessary it feels. We’ve known that this series was coming since Daredevil first premiered. However, none of the events in Defenders feel important enough to warrant a team-up. The big deaths in the show were deaths that already happened. The new villains are easily defeated – Madame Gao even escapes YET AGAIN. We’ve seen these heroes hang out when Luke Cage showed up in Jessica Jones. The Defenders never justifies its existence beyond the four heroes sharing in the same city.
(By the way – “I’m all outta calm” is the new “I’m always angry”)
STAND-OUT PERFORMANCES: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Elodie Young
STAND-OUT EPISODES: “Royal Dragon,” “Worst Behavior,” “Fish in the Jailhouse”