This summer saw the release of The Defenders on Netflix. After four years in the making, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist came together on screen for the very first time as the crime fighting, superpowered group. Mirroring the cinematic MCU in which each character of the team had their own origin series in order for the casual superhero fan to become acquainted with New York's finest vigilantes, The Defenders was the result of Netflix and Marvel phase one. The ever-expanding Marvel universe (both on the big screen and on Netflix) has been reaching new heights lately, and with The Defenders, the famed comic book company is breaking new ground once again.
With each hero having their own series, with their own unique stories and baggage, The Defenders brought them all together as their individual lives clashed. Learning to work together in order to save their beloved New York, The Defenders was an ambitious task that TV hasn't really seen before, but did it work? We honestly think that yes, it did, and we can't wait for the next phase of the Netflix/Marvel universe. However, like everything else in the world, all was not perfect with The Defenders so here is our list of 10 things we loved and 5 things we hated about Netflix's latest Marvel project, The Defenders.
Warning: This article contains serious spoilers!
15 Hated: The Camera Work
We start our list with one for the hated pile. Although this entry may be more of an annoyance than an actual hatred, over the course of the eight episode season, the camera work became more and more irritating. Did anyone else notice this? The problem with The Defenders camera work, if we don't count the strange choices of shots they seemed to randomly use, which we do a little, was that most of the show was so dark we couldn't actually make out what was going on.
Although the four characters are clouded in darkness and the previous series have had a dark feel to them as well, The Defenders took it a step too far. The most annoying thing was when Iron Fist found himself inside the skeleton of the dragon. The scene was lit so poorly and it ended up being so dark that we couldn't actually see what it was he was standing in.
14 Loved: It Set Up The Next Phase
If the cinematic MCU is anything to go by, then we know now that Marvel are great at planning stages and putting them into effect. With the first phase of the Netflix/Marvel universe over, one of the great things to come out of The Defenders is how they set up possible next phases. We know that the four heroes will each get another season, and this will probably result in another season of The Defenders, but just which storylines will they choose?
It was nice to see Danny Rand and Luke Cage together, as this could possibly lead to a Hires For Hire story arch. Daredevil's return from the dead looks to be a New Beginning comic book storyline and Jessica Jones is ready to face the world of the P.I. once again. It was also nice to see side characters Colleen Wing and Misty Wing getting some screen time together as a possible future involving Daughters of Dragon.
13 Loved: Sigourney Weaver And Madam Goa
One of the most exciting things that was announced in the lead-up to The Defenders was that science fiction legend Sigourney Weaver was going to be a part of the cast. When the season started, she didn't disappoint as Weaver was perfect as "the big bad." As the leader of The Hand, Weaver, aka Alexandra, brought gravitas to the show and started out as a real threat. However, unfortunately, as the show went on her character got a bit sidelined and the less said about her death the better.
We must also point out the continuing excellence of Madam Gao. Weaving her way through most of the Netflix/Marvel shows, Madam Goa has been constantly brilliant and each time we see her she becomes more of a danger and an even greater character. Although, we must also say that we have no idea where she suddenly learned the force from! Seeing an old lady throw a car across the road with a flick of her hand was a bit of a shock to say the least.
12 Hated: The Fight Scenes
The Netflix/Marvel universe has become synonymous with great action scenes, brilliantly choreographed fight scenes, and of course, the hallway scene in which the hero must fight his or her way out of a building. Throughout all the previous shows, Daredevil and Iron Fist in particular, the fight and action scenes have been beautifully superb.
We all thought that The Defenders would be even better, or at least be on par with what had come before but how wrong we were. It must be said first that the action scenes were pretty much nonexistent to say the least and when we did get some action, it fell a little flat. Of course there was time for a corridor scene with the four of them, but apart from that and a few other scenes, the action and fighting was a little disappointing.
11 Loved: Iron Fist vs. The Defenders
Throughout all the individual shows and also through The Defenders, the fighting and action has been first class, although a little thin in the latter, as we've just mentioned. But one of the best scenes the Netflix/Marvel universe has done so far is the scene in which the heroes were pitted against Iron Fist.
As The Defenders got further into its season, it became clear that Danny Rand, as the Iron Fist, was an important part of The Hand's plan to conquer New York and the world. So The Defenders decide to hide Danny so that he couldn't be used against them. Of course, the immortal Iron Fist is not happy with this plan and decides to take out The Hand by himself. So Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage stop him. The scene is brilliant, one of the best fight scenes in the season, and we get to see that Iron Fist used against the heroes. Of course, the shining moment comes when Jessica Jones has had enough and knocks Danny out with one punch. Truly brilliant!
10 Loved: Danny Is Better
When Marvel and Netflix first teamed up and brought us Daredevil, fans and critics went crazy for it. Then came Jessica Jones in her first screen outing and the critics and fans went even more crazy. While Luke Cage's first solo outing wasn't received as well as Jones or Daredevil, it still kept the brand going. However, Iron Fist's first season was met with a lot of disapproval and even hatred and unfortunately a lot of that was pointed at the man himself, Finn Jones.
However, whether or not he was best suited to a character like Iron Fist, in The Defenders, Jones ups his game and actually comes across a lot better. More than that, the character of Iron Fist/Danny Rand is also a lot better, a more mature and rounded character that has more to say and do. It was also a nice touch that the rest of The Defenders took a few digs at Iron Fist, it was almost as if there was an acknowledgement for the fans' dislike of the first season of Iron Fist.
9 Hated: It's Too Slow
One of the very first things we learned about The Defenders when it was first announced was that it was only going to be a short season. At just eight episodes, the show should have gone along at a cracking pace with all of us left winded and needing a moment to calm down.
However, that's not what happened. We all knew that the first episode of The Defenders was going to take a while to get going, after all, we had to catch up with all four of the heroes and what they've been doing. But once that was established and they were all back in New York, it still took a few more episodes to really get things going. Finally by episode three, The Defenders were starting to come together, but even when that happened the writers seemed to put on the brakes a few times and halt the action rather than pushing it forward. It seemed a bit strange that for such a short season, and a season based on superheroes, that there would be so much padding and dullness to it.
8 Loved: The Team's Interaction
One of the things that the show got right, and the one thing we were all overly excited about when The Defenders was first announced, was all four heroes interacting with each other. Jessica Jones, Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand were all desperate to save their city in their own way, and with their own powers, but were suddenly forced to work together in order to save the day.
This was perfectly played out when they interacted with each other. Whether they were fighting against each other, refusing to work together, forming new friendships, joking with each other and eventually coming together as a team, everything they did together was TV gold and the actors sparkled and sizzled on screen together. Yes, even Finn Jones!
7 Loved: Chemistry Between Cox And Ritter
We've just mentioned how much we loved seeing the four heroes on screen together and how great they all interacted with each other, but for our next entry we single out the scenes with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. It was a great move to have The Defenders split up into two teams, possibly because one of the most famous superhero team-ups is Heroes for Hire which focuses on Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Netflix and Marvel no doubt wanted to see how they would work together on screen.
While Iron Fist and Luke Cage had some good moments, it was Daredevil and Jessica Jones that stole the show. The scenes in which the two go off to investigate Jones' client are some of the best moments in the show. The dialogue is sharp and excellent and the chemistry between Charlie Cox and Krysten Ritter fizzes on screen. We're not sure if the Netflix/Marvel universe is planning a Daredevil/Jessica Jones team-up, but after watching those two together, they really should.
6 Hated: Elektra
Poor Elektra, we really don't know what can be done to save her as a character. In the comic books, Elektra has been a popular and much loved character for many years but for some reason she just can't be portrayed well on screen. Both in the movies and now on Netflix, the character of Elektra has been one of the downsides of the whole universe. In Daredevil season two, Elektra brought the entire show down a notch and now she's done it again with The Defenders.
We really did love the story arch between Daredevil and Elektra and the ending of her character was a sweet and beautiful moment but the rest wasn't. When Elektra was first reintroduced at the start of The Defenders, we really thought they'd struck gold. She was brought back from the dead without too much explanation and she was suddenly The Hand's main assassin. The fact that she didn't really speak or interact with anyone else also made it perfect. But halfway through the season, the old Elektra was back and annoying us once more.
5 Loved: Jessica Jones
It's fair to say that one of the surprise stars of the Netflix/Marvel universe has been Jessica Jones. The casual fans out there wouldn't know too much about Jones so her success has been even more surprising. Jessica Jones' first solo season was the stand out show in this universe with its mixture of superpowers, evil villains, a witty script, great sequences and of course, the talented and excellent Krysten Ritter.
In The Defenders, Ritter builds on her already established character perfectly. With her razor sharp wit and sarcastic put downs, Ritter is often the best, and funniest, thing to watch during the eight episodes of The Defenders. Her character arch may not be as strong or compelling as others, like Daredevil for example, but by the end of The Defenders, Jessica Jones is ready to get back into the world and put the past behind her. With all The Defenders getting a new solo season, it's Jessica Jones' season that we're looking forward to the most.
4 Loved: Daredevil
It's not really that surprising that the most developed character and the hero with the most depth in The Defenders was Daredevil. After all, he has had an extra season compared to the rest of the heroes. However, even though Daredevil has had more screen time than the rest of The Defenders, there's no denying that he is still the most compelling character to watch on screen. So much praise has to be given for Charlie Cox's performance as The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, as once again he blows everyone off the screen and makes us all believe that he really is a blind vigilante.
As well as being a great character, Daredevil's arch within The Defenders is also one of the highlights. Having given up his vigilante ways at the end of Daredevil season two, Matt is in a dark place and not only is his beloved New York in danger, but the loner is forced to work with other heroes to save the day. On top of that, his once great love has returned from the dead and now works for the bad guys. Everything about Daredevil was perfectly played in The Defenders.
3 Hated: The Reason For Their Team-Up
Throughout this list we talk about the things we loved and things we hated about The Defenders and the number one thing that we didn't like was that the show never really justified itself. We know that the city of New York was in trouble and as fans we were desperate to see these heroes come together, but was The Hand really a great enough threat to bring them all together?
Yes, The Defenders did have real peril and death and yes the build-up to The Hand seemed like a world changing organization, but none of that really happened. It's fair to say that Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave were much stronger bad guys and posed a much bigger threat, and therefore could have resulted in a Defenders meet up, but The Hand was not a good reason. Considering what each of the heroes have faced on their own, The Defenders didn't need to really happen as they could have handled things individually or with just a two hero meet up and the outcome would have gone the same way.
2 Loved: Actual Peril
The main criticism that the cinematic MCU has gotten from fans and critics alike is that there doesn't seem to be any real peril. With the exception of Quicksilver, no one has really been in any real danger and even if they have died, like Agent Coulson, they are soon brought back into the franchise.
Because of that, it's refreshing to see that The Defenders didn't take that approach and characters actually died. The biggest, of course, being Daredevil's mentor Stick and the "big bad" of the series, Alexandra. The four main heroes survived unharmed, although Daredevil was dead for a moment. Well, we knew he wasn't really but it was close! Even with all that, The Defenders actually felt like it had real peril in its story and that anyone, apart from the main four, could be killed.
1 Loved: The Defenders
The number one entry on things we loved and hated about The Defenders, has to be the show itself. Throughout this entire article, we have listed what we've loved about it and picked apart everything we hated about it but the simple fact is that good or bad, it truly was an amazing thing to see.
Four great comic book heroes coming together on screen was a truly great moment. Although it did have its faults, the show, the ending and the characters were all worthwhile and definitely deserve our applause. While the cinematic MCU is ploughing forward with The Avengers, it's great to see a grittier and more down to earth version of that come together on the small screen in the form of The Defenders. So, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and even Iron Fist, we truly can't wait to see what happens next and we look forward to a new season of The Defenders at the end of this stage. Hopefully with a few of the problems fixed!