‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ The First Few Episodes Don’t Encourage Binging

FIRST IMPRESSION

'The Defenders' doesn't live up to it's lofty expectations.
Acting
Writing
Direction
Action
Binge Worthy

The biggest obstacle hindering Marvel’s latest release, The Defenders, stems from Netflix’s inability to promote their own product. While they assume just on name recognition alone The Defenders will flourish, but the reality is a vast majority of the people who will either review or watch this series have poor knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead of relying on the hope that everything is going to work out, Netflix has to get out of its own way.

For starters, after the debacle that was The Iron Fist, why would The Defenders center around Danny Rand? Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage are far better options to build this narrative around and yet the focus appears to be on Rand. It’s Rand’s ego driven choices that do more harm than good for the group. Rand spends most of his time talking about how horrible his life has been, his chi, and yes, telling everyone who will listen to him that he’s The Iron Fist. This is just further evidence Marvel and Netflix need to strongly consider moving away from Finn Jones and recasting the role. However, the chances of that happening don’t appear to be high.

Netflix also needs to look at how they promote their shows. While I understand the need to only show the critics so many episodes so nothing is ruined, why would you pick episodes that set up the back half of the series? In the four episodes we were allowed to screen before the series was to go live, each one of them provided the reason each Defender decides to join the fight to save New York. We don’t get a sense of where the story is headed or even if the story is one that should be told. The first four episodes of The Defenders are as if Luke Cage, Matt Murdock, and Jessica Jones were all transported into the first season of The Iron Fist.

Sigourney Weaver was a major selling point for this series but the first episodes are cut in such a way it’s hard to get a feel for her character. We do know she’s a crime lord and has no fear of dying. However, her motivation is unclear. Maybe if we had been able to see the whole series, it would have been understandable. 

Elodie Yung’s return to Marvel is welcomed, however, she’s criminally underused. Her fight sequences are electrifying and provide one of the few highlights. One can hope in the back half of The Defenders, we see much more of Yung and her purpose is more defined.

Had The Defenders focused on the growing threat towards New York and less on the backstory (we get why they are doing this), the series would have been so much better. The fight sequences (as few as they were) were great but as the show meanders along the lack of visceral action becomes glaring.

It’s hard to recommend a show that feels this poorly executed. If you are a huge of all things Marvel, perhaps give this series a chance. However, with the quality of choices on Netflix, The Defenders just isn’t worth your time.

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Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.

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