After two years and five seasons worth of episodes between the characters, Marvel’s darker and grittier street level heroes finally come together Avengers-style. However, after all the build-up and a lacklustre performance from Iron Fist, the biggest question was whether Defenders would be able to justify all the hype. Unfortunately, the answer is no; sure it’s better than Iron Fist, but it’s disjointed, poorly paced, and ultimately misses an opportunity to be something greater.
The first two episodes don’t do the show any favours, as hardly anything happens. All we see are the individual characters going off on their own pursuits, which are pretty vaguely connected at best. I’m all for building things up , but with only eight episodes, it’s frustrating that nothing majorly relevant or interesting happens until the heroes finally meet at the end of episode two. It doesn’t help that everyone’s individual stories aren’t as interesting or engaging as they were in each of their individual shows.
The show really kicks into gear when all the heroes get together and clash against each other’s conflicting personalities, which is the real meat of any crossover and team-up. The chemistry between all the characters is fantastic, and it’s fun seeing them get to know each other as well as question each other’s styles and methods. One of my favourite moments is when everyone’s having dinner and discussing each other’s situations and information. Sometimes you don’t need a big battle with epic proportions to get involved and immersed in a story. Frustratingly, there aren’t as many interactions as we’d like. Danny and Luke work particularly well against each other and Jessica’s snarky personality clashes brilliantly with Daredevil.
“The chemistry between all the characters is fantastic, and it’s fun seeing them get to know each other”
Once they all meet, the quality of the show goes up a few notches. We see all the Defenders forced together as a result of the Hand, a criminal organisation already established in Daredevil and Iron Fist. With the danger to their loved ones, they’re forced to work together and plan ahead against their own wishes. Unfortunately, the final act is less interesting, thanks in no small part to the villains.
The Hand remain the weakest villains of all the Netflix series so far. They have very little personality and, in particular, Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra is a very bland character, especially when compared to the likes of the other Netflix villains. The intentions of the group are also kept very vague until the end where their plan turns out to be something a bit bizarre and fanatical. The Fingers of the Hand that are introduced later on are somewhat more interesting but any potential nuance and insight they could’ve had is foregone in favour of plot progression. At the end of the day, the Hand just weren’t worth all the build up we were getting from the previous shows.
It’s really aggravating, especially when there are hints of better storylines and ideas. The return of Elodie Yung as Elektra is very well-done. She’s a more credible villain to the Defenders and her connection to Daredevil already makes her more compelling than Alexandra. It’s this relationship with Daredevil that sows the seeds of disharmony amongst the team as they’re struggling to unite in precarious circumstances. Her story eventually gets merged with the less interesting one of the Hand which leads to an uninspiring and lacklustre final two episodes. The action sequences are entertaining, though not as amazing as they could’ve been. Highlights include a hallway fight where the characters come together for the first time and a Daredevil vs. Iron Fist fight in the middle of the series. The scenes with the Fingers however, don’t justify their supposed fighting prowess. Additionally, most of the action sequences don’t really have much weight to them; for the most part, it’s the Defenders fighting ninjas in isolated locations. Without civilians in the potential crossfire, there’s no great sense of desperation or tension which could’ve added so much more.
“With all the engaging moments there is an equal number of outright dumb ones”
With all the fun and engaging moments, there is an equal number of troublesome and outright dumb moments. Danny is told the Hand need his power and he proceeds to use it in a very crucial moment (his character is better here than in his own show at least). Also Daredevil, whose entire shtick is heightened senses, can’t hear someone making very little effort to sneak up on him. Similarly, the supporting cast from the individual shows don’t have much of a strong presence outside of Foggy’s occasional appearances, and the few interactions they have seem forced.
While the show has moments of excitement and fun, ultimately they’re only due to the brief character interactions and less from a compelling plot and engaging villains. While there was potential for the show to be something great, at the end of the day it just felt hastily put together and average for the most part. Hopefully, any future endeavours with the team are more successful, more cohesive, and can deliver a more interesting story.
Marvel’s Defenders Season 1 is available on Netflix and any good torrenting website.
Defenders Season 1
Creator: Douglas Petrie, Marco Ramirez Starring: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones.