After two seasons of Daredevil, and introductory seasons for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, we now reach the first season of Marvel’s The Defenders. The series where our street level heroes of New York finally meet and team up to take on what appears to be the biggest baddie of all to date. Working on the assumption that those wanting to watch this show will have at least watched some, if not all, of the other shows that came before it, this series picks up not long after the end of events in both Daredevil Season 2 and Iron Fist in particular.
From the opening credits that renders each of our heroes into beautifully coloured constellations overlapping each other one by one, it’s clear of the intentions of this show – to bring all of our heroes together. However canonically only two of our existing characters, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, have actually met so being able to legitimately and successfully introduce each of the characters to each other is the challenge. To start with, we’re given individual vignettes as each of our characters return to their lives. Matt Murdock aka Daredevil (Charlie Cox) working on hard-luck law cases, having retired Daredevil and the vigilantism after the death (perceived for him at least) of Elektra (Elodie Yung). Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) picking up a new P.I. case and shying away from all the attention after her run-in with Kilgrave. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) finishing his term in Seagate Prison and returning to Harlem and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). Danny Rand (Finn Jones) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) tracking down a lead in Cambodia to try and find members of The Hand, only to be told they need to return to New York.
Unlike previous shows where the build up to the villain is a little slower, The Defenders opts for a different tactic. We’re introduced to Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) and shown a little insight into the big bad of this season from the first episode. Since we’ve never even heard of her from any of the previous shows we don’t know her end game but we do see her involvement with The Hand. It’s unusual for us to gain some insight into her modus operandi so early but so much of it is shrouded in vague metaphors and offhanded comments that we probably won’t know her full plan until closer to season’s end. But it’s a gutsy move from the showrunners to bring her in so early and considering it’s Sigourney Weaver, who delivers extra bang for your buck, it’s a smart move to utilise such an A+ actor in as many scenes as possible.
Showrunners Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie use similar sensibilities and style in The Defenders as they did whilst helming Daredevil. While some may feel like the show is rushing into things there’s no time to lose when they only have 8 episodes to work with (whereas all the others have 13 eps). Oddly though it never feels like it’s chomping at the bit or straining to drop as much info as possible. It’s probably not a prerequisite to have watched all the other shows, as there’s enough context and back story provided in the dialogue for you to get by without. However if you have watched them all, this will only serve to enhance your experience as you pick up on all the little breadcrumbs that have been dropped along the way up til now. The character interactions here are exactly what we hoped for too, with Jessica Jones being the quippiest whilst Luke Cage gets to lay some verbal smackdown into the tenacious but now slightly less whiny and irritating Danny Rand, and Matt Murdock being the perpetually paranoid and guilt-riddled one trying to put it all behind him. As Cage so eloquently puts it “I’m not here to make super-friends” and none of them really are, but necessity is the mother of invention, so here they are forming their own little band of scrappy street level superheroes fighting the good fight.
All eight episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders drops on Netflix Australia on Friday 18 August 2017