When Daredevil first premiered on Netflix, we all knew this was the start of something greater, a team-up to rival the Avengers on the big screen. After two more heroes have smashed expectations with their own shows — and with Iron Fist up next in 2017 — the team-up show #TheDefenders will finally air next year. But it looks like we'll have less time to enjoy this glorious mashup than we thought.
In a recent press release, Netflix revealed that The Defenders will only run for eight episodes, as opposed to the usual 13.
Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil all have 13-episode seasons, and we assumed that format would carry over to The Defenders, as it will for Iron Fist. But while we won't be immersed in the world of New York's mightiest heroes for long, the shorter season might be the best thing for the new show.
A Tighter Story-Arc
The Netflix Marvel shows have been praised by critics and fans alike, as they offer a darker, more down-to-Earth approach to a much-loved genre. There's a lot to love about these shows, from Daredevil's breathtaking fight sequences, to Jessica Jones' hard hitting themes, to Luke Cage's social relevancy. And yet, there is one almost universal complaint against the shows — they all lose momentum towards the middle.
Many have speculated that this is because of the serialized structure — one story stretched over several installments, like a novel in multiple parts. With the exception of Daredevil Season 1 — generally considered to be strong throughout — each of the Netflix Marvel shows have a strong start, a convoluted middle, and a somewhat satisfying conclusion.
Reducing the number of episodes in the season may go a long way to solving this problem, as the only other solution would be to revert to a more episodic structure — or to make sure the story has enough meat in it to sustain 13 episodes. This is what Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb seemed to be addressing when he spoke to Empire about The Defenders' shorter season:
"It's not who's the big bad or how are their powers going to work or what's the action sequence that we're going to figure out. It’s these are four people who have very different ways of looking at their lives. Now let's put them together and see what happens."
With an ensemble cast and the threat of a gang war on the horizon, it would seem as though there's a lot going on in The Defenders. These heroes are not known for being team players: Jessica Jones resents any kind of help, Matt Murdoch's got enough on his plate keeping Foggy and Karen out of the action... but Luke Cage's impassioned speech about everyone taking action implies that he might approach a team-up with gusto. The jury's out on how well newcomer Danny Rand will play with others.
We'll just have to trust that the writers know what they're doing, and a season with fewer episodes will only bode well for The Defenders — or maybe it will inspire a different kind of complaint about the story being rushed. Only time will tell, but so far there's every reason to be optimistic about this change.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think the 8-episode structure will work for The Defenders?