The Defenders brings you the long-awaited team-up of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil. With facing a common enemy and re-discovering their heroic personas, they defend NYC and create a gathering of contrastive and yet complementary personalities. Here’s my evaluation of the first season:
The 8-episode-format was one of the best decisions made by Marvel but just missed the perfect mark for me. With the stand-alone shows of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist, 13 episodes felt too long. Here, those three plus Daredevil could’ve profitted from one or two more episodes. This is total nitpicking and 8 episodes was 100% a step in the right direction, there were just some small things that suffered from a shorter season: the shift from not caring about (or even buying) the Hand to totally believing the threat they propose happened too fast for Jessica and Luke. One moment they think they landed in crazytown and the next, Jessica says things along the lines of ,”they never stop being dangerous.” How exactly would you know? Her storyline in particular bothered me a lot because I couldn’t follow her suddenly so determined will to fight against the Hand after strongly rejecting the sheer idea of K’un-Lun, dragons, fountains of youth and iron fists. However, I quickly got over that and her dynamic with Matt Murdoch was worth it. Their investigative styles colliding and ultimately collaborating was a ball to witness.
Speaking of dynamics: Power Man and Iron Fist meet and create the perfect mix of humor and heart. Having read some issues of their comicbook series, I was really excited to see them together. Finn Jones and Mike Colter deliver the brotherly relationship with innocent rivalry and taking the piss out of each other. Although I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed (most of) the Iron Fist show (and mostly because of side characters), I think Danny Rand’s character is necessarily improved by Luke’s taunts. Generally, the realization that the immortal Iron Fist takes himself way too seriously when things like chi, dragon, hidden city of K’un-Lun, or the immortal Iron Fist come out of his mouth and turning that into the punch line of his character’s humor was a good way to make him more approachable. Correspondingly, Luke can show some more of his wit and humor but also heart and tenderness, and thus, benefits from being positioned besides Danny.
Two people that really got some well-deserved spotlight were Claire and Colleen. The powerful and determined fighter Colleen who had to face her past, once more, was really entertaining and engaging. With Claire, the only issue I have is that she seems so impeccable she becomes boring. I would like to see her make mistakes so she has to try and set things right. As of now, she always has the right advice, thoughtful and uplifting remarks, and generally never fails where it matters. In short, her character lacks some depth and with Luke getting the hots for Jessica again, I am curious to see what effect that has on her. Nevertheless, both were actually helpful and relevant, as opposed to Foggy and Karen. Especially the latter had me scratch my head multiple times. She seemed like a crammed-in extra and had nothing to do but lecture Matt on something that was inevitable to happen. At least Foggy had the job to establish a connection to Jessica and ultimately to Matt.
Marvel and its villains have traveled a rocky road in the past. Some were so cringe-worthy you want to forget about them and some were so forgettable you can’t even recognize them on a poster. In this show, the Hand continued to be the big evil to be taken down and it turned out to be quite interesting. Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra and the leader of the Hand was a merciless, unimpressed villain who stroke with chilling stoicism. Her character was interesting because it offered vulnerable aspects to a seemingly stone-cold statue of a person. Having only a limited time left to live, she unwaveringly seeks eternal life. That is where Electra comes in who is resurrected as the Black Sky aka the ultimate weapon.
While Alexandra tenaciously believes in her forsterling, the other fingers of the Hand share a different opinion. Madam Gao, Bakuto, Sowande, and Murakami sense the fickle loyalty of the Black Sky and offer some resistance at the beginning. All in all, they were fine. Sowande outshines the others but finds an early ending. What made them rather irrelevant was a) their not-so-effective fighting abilities and b) the little stakes of their ultimate goal. Though they warn of the destruction of New York City, it is not clear if digging out dragon bones would actually cause a lot of damage. And if they would’ve regained a source for immortality, the citizens of NYC would not have the faintest clue and continue their lifes as usual.
Coming back to Electra: unfortunately, I have not watched Netflix’s Daredevil (I know, I know) and therefore I was not attached to her character in any way. However, her fighting skills were highly impressive and her turn on Alexandra felt authentic enough. What bothered me, and I’m sure a lot of other people, was Danny’s complete blindness to her manipulation. In the end, she only had to guide his fist against the door and it took her like 5 seconds. One can argue that shows how weak the Iron Fist actually is, which makes me think he was too easy of an opposition for her, thus, boring. Or she was just that powerful, thus, boring. In short: I enjoyed her character but not how they ended her (and Danny’s) arc.
Misty Knight was more conniving than ever and was able to show off her experience as a detective. Although her character could’ve been used more extensively, the loss of her arm and the foreshadowing conversation with Colleen in the hospital bed was some good fan-service. And a quick shout-out to Malcolm who looks sober and healthy. You go, Malcolm!
My absolute favorite part of the show was the cinematography and consideration of colors. Every character has their own vibe and atmosphere which was re-captured for this show. Jessica with purple and blue tones, Daredevil and red, Iron Fist with red and green, and for Luke, warm yellow shades. That attention to detail created a comforting and familiar feel. This was also reflected in the choice of music as, for example, Luke comes in to save Danny when he pays a visit to Alexandra and hip-hop music starts playing.
All in all, The Defenders flew by and is a really easy watch. The action was great at times, and okay at others. JJ, LC, DD and IF make a highly-entertaining quartett perfectly complementing each other in terms of strength, sarcasm, wit, and heart. In the future, I would like to see a departure from the Hand and the heavy focus on Daredevil and maybe one or two more costumes (if only to take a blow at them). What did you think?
POWER MAN and IRON FIST #54 by Marvel Comics Group