[Warning: Includes spoilers for The Defenders!]
It seems just yesterday, when we were waiting with baited breath for the release of Netflix's The Defenders. The show based on the superhero team (comprising of Daredevil, Jessica Jones a.k.a Jewel, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) delivered eight stand out episodes that not only made for a thrilling watch but also furthered the plotlines of Netflix's Cinematic Marvel World.
And while it was a treat to see our favorite heroes team up for the first time, there were several things that worked and some that clearly didn't.
1. The Action
Marvel's Daredevil has set the standard for modern day martial arts on #TV. And while it was unlikely that we would get the high octane action scenes such as the Daredevil Season 2 staircase scene, The Defenders did have some truly outstanding fight scenes.
Granted the best fight of the series was the 'Defenders assemble scene' rather than at the end of the show, including the ones in the finale. But The Defenders managed to deliver some stellar action stunts throughout the series, particularly in scenes involving Elektra.
2. The Villains
It's fitting that the show chose to go up against the Hand as it's villain as the supervillain organization has been a major force in the Netflix MCU. Mind you, none of the agency's previous appearances did any good for the show respective shows. The Hand was a poor replacement for Wilson Fisk in Daredevil Season 2 and while you couldn't say that they single-handedly (pun intended) brought down Iron Fist's first season, their appearance in the fourth Netflix series was even worse. So, it makes sense that the showrunners decide to close this chapter once and for all.
Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra, while not the best villain we've seen in the Marvel Netflix universe — that honor falls to Kilgrave and Wilson Fisk — gave a memorable performance as the calculating villain. It was great that the series presented her to us as not simply a villain, but as a human with problems (her impending doom) and vulnerabilities. Even the other group members held their own and the finale battle against the The Defenders was all the better for it.
3. Jessica Jones
Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones was easily the MVP of the series. If you had any doubt about why she is the best #Marvel character on TV, The Defenders would certainly clear that up for you. Jones was crass, rude and clearly not a team player but all that made her character even more fun to see. In fact before the ball got rolling in the early (painfully slow) episodes of the series, Jessica was the sole character who remained engaging in each and every scene.
Whether she was impersonating someone else ('Oh my God, can i quote that? Don't anwser, cause I'm gonna quote that') or simply stating the facts ('You looked better with the scarf'), Kristen delivered the best her character had to offer. Her witty one-liners ('I'll hit you so hard, you'll see') managed to make her the most fun character of the show. It also helped make us realize that Kilgrave or no Kilgrave, #JessicaJones's second season would certainly be amazing.
4. Redemption For Characters
The Defenders was a great way to write the wrong of the previous shows. Not everyone liked the heroes in their solo outings and this was a great way for us to warm to them. Luke Cage, who a lot of people disliked after his small but memorable arc on Jessica Jones, showed his funny and headstrong side and it was a joy to watch.
Even Elektra (who was despised by a large segment of the Daredevil loving base), managed to become more than the femme fatale Daredevil Season 2 had shoe horned her into becoming. Danny too, for all his flaws, came across somewhat better, partly because of the company around him but also because finally, there were some good fight scenes involving his character.
5. That Elektric Twist
Elektra killing Alexandra was clearly the most shocking part of the series. Despite her poor health, Weaver's Alexandra had this strength to her that made her death highly unlikely. #Elektra offing to take control of the Hand for "boss" didn't only serve to show how unpredictable the raven haired ninja could be, but also showcased how foolish Alexandra had been to put all her trust in Elektra (something that made her character all the more human). The power shift in Episode 6 was certainly one big highlight of the show and will stand to serve as a reminder for all those viewers who ever underestimated Elektra Nachios.
What Didn't Work:
1. Iron Fist
No matter what you felt about Danny Rand in Season 1 of #IronFist, The Defenders certainly showed a better side of his character. That said, he was still by far the worst character on the show and quite possibly the most idiotic superhero on any Marvel or DC series. When you find yourself agreeing with the villains insulting your hero's intelligence, you know things aren't good with the characterization. And since anyone insulting Danny (be it Luke or Sowande) had valid points, it just showed how what a poorly-considered character Danny is.
Part of that has to do with the casting of the actor. In my opinion, Finn Jones just doesn't have the range t say 'I am the immortal Iron Fist' in a way that doesn't sound ridiculous. Imagine #LukeCage saying the same thing, though, and it really doesn't sound quite so farfetched.
Then there was the much hyped big fight between the superfriends, Danny and Luke. #Superheroes fighting among themselves is always entertaining, but the fact that the fight was about the other Defenders trying to protect Danny, despite him being to bull-headed to see that this was necessary, made his character more unlikeable.
2. The Emotional Scenes
If you thought that The Defenders was going to be high on emotions as well as action then you'd be sorely disappointed. Marvel's webseries have built a world that is, in my opinion, much superior to that of CW's #Arrowverse (despite the latter being far more comicbooky), yet it's surprising that the show failed to be at all emotionally charged. Arrow delivered a powerfully moving episode in between its three part crossover this year and The Defenders should have aimed for even a fraction of that.
At best we got Colleen crying in the police station. Something that might have been effective had we not seen what a blast she'd had at the Hand's conversion camp, on Iron Fist. In fact it seemed like the writers relied on Colleen and Claire's heart-to-hearts as the emotional core of the show. Something that neither impacted, nor fit in with the rest of the Netflix's #MCU. The only thing that could have severely shaken the foundations of the show (Daredevil's death) was quickly proven to be a farce, thus reiterating my point about how the series felt like a action movie rather than the surprisingly thought provoking superhero shows that Netflix is known for producing.
3. Matt's Weird Obsession With Elektra
Matt and Elektra have never had the traditional relationship. And although The Defender's decision to explore that again was not a bad one. It did serve to mystify fans about what he saw in her. Seriously, we get that she's really bad ass. But over the course of #Daredevil Season 2 all we know about her as a character, is that she likes breaking things and killing people.
Daredevil never delved into what made them a great match (despite them being good at kicking ass), and the biggest complaint for a lot of fans was how #MattMurdock became a love sick puppy in the sophomore season. This kind of idiocy is easy to spot on a CW series where the heroes often lose their heads over the latest woman hey think they are in love with, but in Daredevil and The Defenders, the whole thing seems strange. You could argue that Elektra is, and always has been, Matt's weak spot but had the Hand used this to exploit him. This could have lead to a much more logical reason for the heroes to fight amongst themselves and the final Matt-Elektra scene in the cave would've felt more fitting.
4. Lack Of Character Building
There were some great character moments in The Defenders but there was an obvious lack of build up. In fact, looking back Iron Fist saying that maybe his approach to tackling the Hand was wrong seemed like the biggest character evolution. The show had limited time, but it still feels odd that as a result of The Defenders nothing really happened. Sure the characters became familiar with one another, but there wasn't any character growth. Something that was really needed with characters like #DannyRand around.
5. The Slow Start
Despite the show starting with an action scene, The Defenders didn't kick off with a bang. The first two episodes were uneven and had pacing issues. Even tonally, the early episodes were a mess and it felt like the writers were too focused on making sure that each superhero had equal screen time, to allow if to feel organic. It didn't help that The Defenders had to combine elements from all the shows, including the feel of each character. Although the stunning title sequence managed to do just that, the show itself was another story. Merging the darker worlds of Jessica Jones and Daredevil with the considerably lighter ones of Iron Fist & Luke Cage was no easy task, that he show only managed to get right some of the time.
Although The Defenders was certainly a great series to watch, it wasn't perfect. Lucky for us, a second season of the series may arrive sometime soon. Until then, we can keep our eye out for the next Marvel Netflix series, #Punisher set to arrive later this year.
What Did You Think About Marvel's Big Superhero Team Up?