*Originally written August 20th, 2017*
Marvel and Netflix's The Defenders has been a show a long time in the making. We've had 2 seasons of Daredevil and a season each of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to set this up. For the most part, The Defenders is a success, it's a hell of a lot better than the painful Iron Fist and I liked it a bit more than Luke Cage and Daredevil season 2, but it never reaches the insane heights of Daredevil and Jessica Jones debut seasons.
Things are a bit muddled at the beginning. 2 of the Defenders are obviously needed back in New York for the inevitable team-up, but it makes the finales of Luke Cage and Iron Fist kinda pointless. They made a big deal of Cage going to prison in his show, but he's quickly released by Foggy Nelson in the opening moments of the premier, while Iron Fist is called back from China once he realises the real threat is in New York. There seemed to be a bit of a disconnect and lack of communication from show runners in setting up this series.
Things really shine when the team are finally put together. A whole episode takes place in a Chinese restaurant, and The Defenders get to interact and riff off each other. This is when the show is at its strongest. The cast have really chemistry together. Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock in particular have some of the best scenes. Iron Fist is also at his best when he's with Luke Cage, but he's still a whiny bitch when he's on his own.
This show clearly didn't learn from the mistakes of Iron Fist (The panned final stage before The Defenders). In all fairness, this was already filmed and they clearly didn't have time to learn from the reception of Iron Fist. Still, Danny Rand is still the most annoying part of the show. He's so annoying and whiny. Which is a great shame when the rest of the team are so great.
Things also fail in the hands of the villains. Sigourney Weaver is completely wasted in a muddled villain that guess what? Listens to classical music! It's wildly unoriginal and she had the potential to be a villain on the same level as Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave. All the stuff with The Hand doesn't help. They sucked in Daredevil season 2 and Iron Fist, and they suck here. They at the very least are finally given some weight as a credible threat here to a point. Elektra is also back as essentially a rip-off of The Winter Soldier, back from the dead with an erased memory but can get flashbacks at the mere mention of her name.
There is some exceptional action spread throughout where each character gets their chance to shine. The boardroom fight in the fifth episode in particular has some real kinetic energy to it and I wish we got just a bit more of that. It's a shame that the finale lacked much of a real punch. There's a big action scene towards the end involving all The Defenders, but it lacked any real threat or fun. Hip-hop music also starts playing and stops out of nowhere for no discernable reason, it was really strange and felt like it was trying to tap into Luke Cage's unique style, but failed miserable and just came off as weird.
The consequences of the finale is also outrageous. I know Daredevil is a lawyer by day, but there is no way The Defenders would get away with the borderline terrorist act they committed. The finale at least puts all The Defenders in an interesting place at the end (Except Iron Fist. Fuck Iron Fist).
I did appreciate the colour schemes. It was very faithful to the individual TV shows. Daredevil's scenes are mostly red, Jessica's are drenched in muted blues and Luke's scenes are primarily yellow. Bringing these shows together really worked stylistically without losing what made each member unique.
The Defenders wasn't amazing, but it's a step in the right direction for Netflix's Marvel Universe after a couple of missteps. There is real room for improvement (Especially in fucking Iron Fist), but for the most part, it was all good fun with some great character moments and everyone got to a chance to shine.
All episodes of The Defenders are now streaming on Netflix worldwide
Watch the trailer below:
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