Marvel’s The Defenders is the culmination of years of original Netflix content featuring some of the more grounded superheroes within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since Daredevil season one the Netflix MCU has been building to this superhero team-up between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist much like how the original Iron Man movie set the stage for The Avengers. There are some similarities between The Avengers and The Defenders, most notably that it is a massive superhero team-up that is bound to have any geek trying to contain the fluttering of beautiful butterflies in their sensitive little hearts, I may or may not have found myself giggling like a child once or twice but you can’t prove anything because I was alone in my dark basement so nice try. The key difference between the movies and the TV shows is that viewers have spent far more time with the tv characters than their movie counterparts. Just including the two seasons of Daredevil, there have been 26 hours of getting to know Matt Murdock. This kind of in-depth story telling really aids The Defenders and elevates it above what could have been just a team-up spectacle, this show has heart and it clearly cares even about the reoccurring side characters that have been developed for years.
This series finds Matt Murdock still reeling from the events of Daredevil season 2 with the death of Electra and the revelation of his secret identity to Karen Page. He has given up being the vigilante known as The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and dedicates his time to his job as a lawyer. However, it is clear that Matt does not feel whole without his alter-ego and battles his inner devil as much as he can until he must admit to himself and his friends that Daredevil is part of who he is. I really enjoyed Daredevil’s arc in this show, in many ways he felt like the main character, and the season finale has me excited for what is to come in Daredevil season 3.
Jessica Jones has not been operating as a Private Investigator since her final experiences with Purple Man at the end of season one. However, word of his heroics has gotten around town, much to her chagrin, and a woman comes to her with a case about her missing husband. Jessica initially doesn’t want to take the case, but it brings her down the rabbit hole of a conspiracy involving The Hand and brings her into contact with the rest of the Defenders. Her arc this season was a little light but I think it did just enough to set her up for Jessica Jones season 2.
Luke Cage is finally released from prison and makes it his mission to be the hero of Harlem. In his attempts to keep the people of Harlem safe, he runs into Danny Rand aka Iron Fist and much like Jessica Jones, enters into a massive conspiracy run by The Hand which he helps the other heroes stop. His story seemed to have the least development, however, he and Jessica Jones had a couple of moments which seems to set them up as a couple down the line.
In many ways, this season of The Defenders is the fulfillment of Iron Fist’s destiny. We find him still traveling the world in order to hunt down and try to destroy The Hand until he is brought back to New York to stop whatever they have planned. He learns a little more about who he is from Daredevil’s mentor, Stick. Then, in the end, he must find a purpose for himself beyond the existence of The Hand, leading to a pretty awesome final shot of him in the city skyline.
The chemistry between all four characters was amazing. I was worried about Iron Fist and Luke Cage because they are supposed to be best friends in the comics, but the writers and actors absolutely nailed the formation of a good friendship between the two. Daredevil and Jessica Jones had a surprising amount of excellent scenes together as well, planting seeds for another solid friendship down the line. The best scenes of this show were when the four main characters were interacting with each other, and it was everything that I hoped for. Besides a sort of underwhelming finale, the fight scenes involving all the characters showed me exactly why I began to love superheroes when I was a kid. I give The Defenders season one a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The tones for all four heroes managed to merge into one show successfully, leaving me excited to see The Defenders season 2 in the future.