A slightly spoilery overview of the first for 4 episodes of marvel’s defenders.
The defenders is the TV version of the avengers and something we’ve been looking forward to since the first season of daredevil was available, and as a huge marvel fan something I’ve been hugely anticipating. A couple of the marvel Netflix series had people divided but I’ve honestly loved all of it, more than any other superhero TV universe, so I may be biased. They’ve nailed their characters and the fact that they can have violence and adult themes enables Netflix/marvel to make it as realistic as possible. In this series they’ve allowed Matt, Jessica and Luke be themselves but there’s a clear change in Danny who is now slightly more gritty and moody.
I’ve read a few defenders comics, Elektra: the hand and some power man and iron fist. I feel that they’ve definitely drawn what they can from these comics, especially Danny and Luke’s relationship which i personally felt was bang on. They have also got the Elektra we want, a resurrected merciless killing weapon who starts to falter when she remembers parts of her previous life.
Immediately I found myself drawn quickly back into their world. It starts with an action packed scene where iron fist is fighting a mysterious lady (Elektra duh) in a sewer, a man she’s just skewered tells Danny to go back to new York. Putting all of our heroes back in the city. From here we catch up with the rest of them, to be honest I was just excited to see Matt Murdock again. They’re all pursuing their own storylines and I really liked the use of colour pallets to differentiate between each character’s scene. You’ll notice that nearly every scene has the character’s colour pallet in it and both colours when they cross over, it’s very clever. Luke Cage’s scenes are also usually started with some badass rap carrying on from his series.
The first episode is spent catching us up with everybody reminding us where we left them and introducing us to our new enemy Alexandra (sigourney weaver), who seems to be in charge of madam gao, we’re not fully sure of her intentions but she’s told she may only have weeks to live. As soon as she’s on screen you can tell she’s going to be a handful and there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. It’s really fun to see sigourney play a bad guy and bring such a presence to the small screen. A few of the side characters run into the other heroes (like misty meeting Jessica Jones) but nothing major happens. It just feels like the individual series but chopped up into one joint episode and it works. We learn that the hand are back and they’re looking for something in New York and they’re using elektra (who is now their black sky) to achieve that goal. I was really pleased with the first episode, it was great to see all of them again and I felt they were using the best parts of everyone’s stories.
In episode 2 the heroes start to mix a little and you learn more about what the hand are after. It turns out the people Danny has been pursuing are the same that Cage has been protecting, Danny learns that his martial arts don’t do very much to an unbreakable man, until he gets a glowing fist to the face, which launches and clearly shakes cage. This slo mo face punch is right out of the matrix and the action sequence is just as good.By the time Luke gets up Danny has fled the scene.
My one worry was how Jessica Jones would fare considering her series was very different to the others, but they give her a nice little investigation which ends up with her crossing paths with misty night. It’s a great way of having Jessica do her thing but have it lead into the overall story. The episode ends with Matt coming in to be Jessica’s lawyer. So now two pairs have crossed paths.
Ep 3 starts with a flashback scene to catch us up on the hand’s mysterious deeds and the resurrection of elektra, who is now black sky. You get hints that Alexandra may be really really ancient/more than human and she can certainly handle herself. There’s much more crossing over between the heroes and they nail the character interaction, everyone is still themselves but they work extremely well together and they make the personalities mix very well. The use of their powers and skills seems so ‘normal’ and really start to come out more in this episode. Claire introduces Luke to danny but they decide they can’t work together. Luke feels Danny is too privileged, perhaps the writers addressing the issues of iron fist? Whilst pursuing their own narratives (all linked to the hand one way or another) they constantly cross paths, teasing the team up you know is going to come. And boy does it come!! If you’re like me you may have felt a little short changed by the action in iron fist, the scene at the end of this episode more than makes up for it. This is the corridor fight scene which has been teased in the trailers. I personally really enjoyed it. Cage coincidentally shows up to help Danny out of nowhere and Jessica and Matt come up in a lift to join them. Matt takes on elektra whilst the rest fight the hand in a series of flips and kicks. I didn’t feel like there was any cheap cutting to make the fight look longer it was a really smooth well choreographed sequence, which I only wish was longer, it was definitely worth the wait. Danny stops elektra by shattering her sword and she escapes. The ‘team’ get in to the lift and leave the scene.
Ep 4. Starts off with the defenders all together in a chinese restaurant. There’s some fantastic dialogue which really brings out each character’s personality and shows us how this team dynamic can work. They start to find out more about each other but Matt doesn’t want in, probably because of his secret ties to Elektra… Stick becomes this universe’s Nick Fury and tells them they need to work together. I have always felt that Stick has been miscast, I’ve never believed that this guy can take anybody on and he comes across too smarmy. The story of Alexandra and the hand continues strongly throughout, as always the Netflix marvel gives it’s villain a strong back bone and story line. Jessica decides this isn’t for her (obviously because she’s awkward and hates her powers) the men remain and have a good chat. Stick tells them more about the hand just as the hand show up to disrupt in the form of their leader – Alexandra.
Alexandra cuts their chat short and tries to cut a deal as she wants Danny (we’re still not quite sure why) they obviously don’t accept. Meanwhile Jessica has gone to further investigate her case, but realises it all ties up to the hand, she comes back and joins the team for their fight against Elektra.
There was definitely too much build up in this episode, there was no action really, just a constant build to a big fight. It almost felt like a filler episode (which is crazy as there are only 8 episodes).
Overall I really enjoyed the first half but they could have done more with it (or less individually). I thought it was great but there wasn’t enough of the team aspect, 2 scenes realistically, we have had 5 seasons of build up to this moment so we probably didn’t need another 4 episodes to build it up. I wouldn’t say any of the episodes were unnecessary as it was a lot more about the individual story lines building up to the team dynamic, I was just keen for as much team action as possible.I know they had to have a reason for everyone to meet up but it could have easily been done in episode 1. I already get the feeling that Defenders season 2 will be the one we really want. Still there’s not much else to fault, the character building is great (especially the change in Danny) and the action is spot on when it happens.