OK, I’m a few months late here but I finally got around to checking out The Defenders. I was going to watch it when it first dropped but then I started seeing all the mixed reviews/sentiments about it, and coming off of Iron Fist which a lot of people hated I figured it could wait. And I found it really weird that it kinda just came and went without much fanfare compared to the sheer volume of action on social media that there was for all the previous Marvel Netflix series. But anyhow…. One of the benefits to waiting to watch is that you get to do it unencumbered by all the hot takes being fired off on the internet about it in real time (same applies for wrestling).
The story revolves around the evil, mysterious organization The Hand and their designs on New York City, which brings the four heroes from previous Marvel Netflix series – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist – together to take them down. Daredevil and Iron Fist have their own histories with The Hand, and things get a lot more complicated when Daredevil’s deceased girlfriend Elektra gets revived by Alexandra, one of The Hand’s leaders, to do their bidding. Yeah…..it’s superhero stuff. Just gotta roll with it. Daredevil is retired at the moment but all the shenanigans bring him back into action. Once Jones and Cage get anecdotally drawn in we now have four heroes with their own reason to fight the bad guys, and then it’s just a matter of getting on the same page for the big showdown at the end.
Sooooo…….what did I think?
I thought the cast worked really well with one another. Mike Colter (Cage) and Kristen Ritter (Jones) had some prior experience with each other, and Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple) has been the common thread through all of their seasons, but there was still a lot of newness to each other that had to be overcome in order for this to work and they pulled it off well in my opinion. Between the four stars and all the supporting cast members from their respective shows that were brought in to provide depth there was a lot to juggle and I thought they mostly did it well.
The fights scenes were done well here, be it the solo stuff, the group work or the hero vs hero dustups that happened throughout. The peak was the obligatory Netflix hallway fight but there was plenty of other good stuff across the board. The most important part of all that was the improvement of Finn Jones work as Iron Fist. He got roasted hard for the lackluster job he did in Iron Fist season one but apparently made a nice leap here (I haven’t watched Iron Fist season one so I couldn’t tell you, but from I’ve heard even this was a hill to high climb for him back then).
The Hand made for a worthy group of adversaries. Finally we got to see more than some random guys who could have been anything from Triads to Yakuza to well dressed members of the Foot Clan. I don’t grade villain plots, because they’re usually some mashup of delusions of grandeur, airing of greivances, and insanity, but theirs was good enough to serve the purpose of the show.
The first two episodes dragged hard for me, to the point that I almost quit on the whole thing. I mean fall asleep and have to watch again dragged. I know you have to set things up and all but yeah, a little more oomph was needed with those. The pacing in general was hit and miss for me. Sometimes it felt like they were jamming a lot in too fast, which of course you have to do when you have only eight epidodes instead of thirteen.
Another thing that bugged me was that Cage and Jones often looked to be taking a huge backseat to Daredevil and Iron Fist. Given that the villains were previous adversaries of the latter a little of that was to be expected but Loki being Thor’s main adversary didn’t put Captain America in a background role in The Avengers. Hopefully we’ll get some future teamups that make this a reality.
It looks like we won’t be seeing them all together for a while. All four members are moving on to the next season of their respective shows along with a second season for The Punisher. So they ended things with everyone going their separate ways, but not without a bit of foreshadowing of things that may come later.
There really seems to be no particular sweet spot for the right mumber of episodes for these things. Thirteen has been a drag for even the best shows but here eight didn’t seem quite right either. Maybe ten is the magic number. I’ll have a better idea when I finish with The Punisher.
Really good. It didn’t suffer from monotonous bad guys like Daredevil season two and didn’t fall off like Luke Cage did down the strectch. I find it somewhat curious that neither fans or critics were particularly high ot low on it. That could be why it kinda came and went like I said before. I think it may have suffered some backlash because of the bad taste that Iron Fist left earlier and the bad buzz around The Inhumans that had been going around all summer. And that’s totally undeserved because this was way better than that. To be honest I’d rather see more of this or at least a Power Man/Iron Fist team up than more solo outings from everyone involved. I give it 8.0 out 10 for now. Defeinitely check it out.