If there was such thing as the center of the Marvel Universe, New York City would be its inhabitant. Indeed the very first characters of the Marvel Comic Universe were located in New York, as well as many of their adventures. As the Marvel comic universe grew, so did its New York based superhero citizenry, with heroes now protecting their neighborhoods. These “street-level” heroes, although frowned upon as vigilantes by law enforcement, became the backbone of heroics for generations of fans. In Netflix’s latest tale of Marvel superheroes, we are treated to the culmination of the story arc that started in the Daredevil series and gained speed in the Iron Fist series. Aptly titled “The Defenders”, the show brings together Daredevil. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand, along with a new antagonist played by Sigourney Weaver, for an epic adventure to save the city they call home.
The Defenders brings together the characters of Foggy Nelson and Karen Page from the Daredevil series; Jessica’s neighbor Malcolm Ducasse and friend Trish Walker from the Jessica Jones series; Misty Knight from Luke Cage; and Colleen Wing from the Iron Fist series. These along with Claire Temple, who is still Luke Cage’s love interest and also has appeared in all the series, and the street hustler Turk, who has also appeared in all the series. In order to get the main gist of the story, it is important to have watched the both seasons (particularly the second season) of Daredevil along with the Iron Fist series, although fans would argue that both the Jessica Jones and Luke Cage series were the best two of the bunch. The Iron Fist series is widely viewed as the weakest link among the series, and when the heroes team-up, this stigma carries over to this series finale, with Danny Rand still portrayed as the naive hot-head, compared to the wisdom and experience shown by his counterparts. It can be argued that Daredevil’s loss of Electra by the Hand, Jessica’s manipulation by Kilgrave, and Luke defeating the demons of his past as represented by Diamondback, helped mold the respective heroes into the instruments of justice for the common man that they have become viewed as. Danny, on the other hand, is still viewed as the wide-eyed child of privilege that his station has afforded him, and as seen in his series, one whose martial arts skill is still unimpressive. Something else that is just as striking is Danny’s lack of believability as a New Yorker. The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is credited with bringing down the Kingpin; Jessica Jones is the uptown PI who stopped the mad man known as Kilgrave; Luke Cage is credited for not only bringing down the criminal empire of Cottonmouth but for stopping Diamondback as well. These things are viewed as each perspective hero looking out for their “neighborhood”. Danny Rand, on the other hand, has not formed any real connection to New York. And outsider from a strange place, this comes across in the rashness he displays.
This show, unlike the others, is only 8 episodes, with the majority of the characters background already taken care of in each of their solo series. This still gives the series plenty of leg room to layout the remaining character’s backstory and motivations and also gives the team a chance to explore their own motivations as well. Luke and Jessica have a history that goes back to the Jessica Jones series, and to see her interact with Matt/Daredevil and Danny is handled very nicely. Luke and Danny’s first meeting goes a long way in setting up their future interactions, and add Colleen, Misty, and Claire in the mix to strengthen all the ties. The show is an enjoyable addition to the Marvel TV series line up and will leave you wanting another team-up of these extraordinary characters.
Rating: 3.5 stars