Super strength, bullet proof skin, glowing fists, immortals and even a blind man, Netflix’s newest television series The Defenders pretty much has it all. The trailer, set to the hypnotic opening bars of “Come as You Are” by Nirvana, promised great things, but how does this series work and how does it fit into Netflix’s Marvel universe?
While the first season have moments of fun and excitement scattered throughout, The Defenders has a dark atmosphere about it, I felt like the fun moments were limited and the stakes just didn’t feel that high despite New York nearly being destroyed as well as the countless deaths of innocent lives.
If you haven’t seen their individual solo shows on Netflix, the characters are portrayed as though they have all had rough pasts and have gone through things that would be considered life changing such as Daredevil losing his vision, Luke Cage becoming part of an experiment to gain bullet proof skin, Iron Fist going through various trials to become the Iron Fist. While this helps the characters already feel somewhat developed, it gave the show a mellow tone which stuck throughout the entire season. Luke Cage is about the only one who ever really cracks a smile occasionally and he was getting let out of prison in the first episode. The way that our four heroes come together through a set of convenient events that lead them to the same building for different reasons works well and seeing them fight side by side was definitely the high point of the season while the constant bickering between our heroes is fun to watch.
Danny Rand or the Iron Fist serves as a major character and a plot device but he is also the biggest problem of the first season. Iron Fist came to New York to track down the villainous group known as “The Hand” to protect the mystical land of Kunlun. However, The Hand want to return to Kunlun thus gaining immortality and need the Iron Fist to get there. This may sound grand and interesting, but it relies on Danny Rand being a compelling and empathetic character. Instead he is an angsty annoying man child. I don’t think he goes one episode without bringing up tedious Kunlun lore or his trials of becoming the Iron Fist not to mention that he’s constantly wearing a massive frown on his face. His epic punching skills don’t change his irritating character.
Although Iron Fist is seen as the main character, Luke Cage is far more interesting due to the way he is portrayed as well as his reason for teaming up with the rest of the Defenders. Luke Cage seems to take the role of a character that’s full of wisdom and guidance, although this doesn’t seem to work with his team mates as they all seem to be stuck in their ways or too moody to listen.
Luke Cage in his hometown of Harlem is seen as not just your stereotypical super hero but also provides guidance for the troubled youths he feels a sort of duty to protect them and steer them in the right direction. So when kids are being recruited out of the Harlem area to do some shady work, Luke Cage comes looking for answers. Luke Cage’s main power is that he has bullet proof skin, so bullets bounce off him the same way rain bounces off a car windscreen, which creates some very cool moments of Luke getting riddled with bullets and just standing there without feeling a thing like a shield, which makes good use for plenty of action scenes.
When it comes to the character of Jessica Jones, I had the most interest in seeing what her character was like when it came to being a part of a team because prior to her having her own Netflix series I had never heard of the character and after watching her Netflix series I quickly realized that she is pretty much an alcoholic who wants nothing to do with anyone, even her own clients during her job as a detective. This trend of Jessica Jones carries over into the Defenders and it works really well as she refuses to believe all the things that are going on around her including the super powered heroes and their histories, which provides a lot of entertaining scenes of her in constant disbelief by all the things going on around her.
Matthew Murdoch or Daredevil was by far the most exciting part of the series for me as I had the most investment in the character as a fan of the Daredevil solo series. That ends with Daredevil basically retiring after the death of his lover, Elektra. But Elektra gets resurrected by The Hand to continue being the deadly assassin she was, so retirement has to be put on hold because Matthew needs answers. This resonated well with me because it’s introducing more characters from the solo television shows and bringing them into the Defenders. While other characters did this too, the characters who had ties with Daredevil seemed to do more for the progression of the plot. Daredevil is very enjoyable to watch on the screen, performing similar action stunts to that of the Iron Fist without his hands glowing while the looming collision of his double life of lawyer and vigilante makes for great suspense.
The Defenders is an interesting introduction to a series that has the potential to be something great and despite the hiccups that this first season has the potential of an action packed super hero television series.