The Defenders Review: A Fun, Riveting Ride…So Far

It is hard to believe that Daredevil premiered it’s first season only 2 years ago. A notable risky move from Marvel, the foray into unadulterated television was a new chapter. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a network show and therefore was limited as expected. Daredevil was going to be an explicit look at what we were all hoping for; a gritty New York drama. From that acclaim sprung Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, another Daredevil season, and Iron Fist. All of them were met adulation and bonafide critical response, even though Iron Fist has had a hard time meeting expectations. Finally these have culminated into The Defenders, a team-up show bringing together Matt (Charlie Cox), Jessica (Kristen Ritter), Luke (Mike Colter), and of course Danny (Finn Jones). This is Marvel’s first test at a team up since Avengers, and they absolutely deliver.

There has been a lot of critique of Finn Jones’ Danny Rand. Honestly, this has been a mixture of impatience (to be fair he has a very interesting and drawn out origin) and misinformation (no he is NOT Asian). I liked the fact that we begin the story with him leading the charge, looking for the Hand, and working with Colleen Wing. I feel it was a pretty badass way to begin and the Marco Ramirez/Doug Petrie creative team made a wise choice in laying the foundation with the most controversial character. We get a great scene with him going up against Luke, but that’s for later. It seems that New York is dealing with the resurgence of the Hand through the backing of a very new villain, and everyone has a part to play. We see a dejected Matt, running solo, and seemingly beyond the Daredevil mantle. Always a good lawyer, he has kept in touch with Foggy who has been making a great career out of working for Hogarth, Chao and Benowitz. We see Matt attempt to rekindle whatever it is he had with Karen and actively move forward without his more famous persona. Luke on the other hand is out of prison and absolutely rekindling with our beloved Night Nurse-esque Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), which in itself is a hilarious scene, but also trying to figure out how to help out his community without going back to jail. This leads him down an interesting path of finding out about some shady business going down in Harlem. Of course Jessica hates the world and isn’t looking to take new clients since her much talked about murder of Kilgrave (David Tennant), but gets drawn into a strange disappearance that gets her involved with the FBI.

All together it seems that there is enough on each of our hero’s collective plates to actually meddle in each other’s business, but that is never the case is it? We are introduced to the mysterious Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver), a very rich and very dangerous businesswoman who is terminally ill and working with the Hand, and man does Sigourney ooze pure coldness. It is rare to see her take a villainous role, and even though she isn’t from noted Marvel canon, she definitely brings a new flavor to the timeline. An earthquake eventually brings our team together, although they aren’t so friendly in the beginning. This includes Matt taking on Jessica’s counsel when she is questioned about her client’s husband, and Danny seeing Luke and thinking he is the enemy. I’ve always wondered how Danny and Luke would handle a straight up brawl, and damn it Danny, you still disappoint.

Ok, don’t get me wrong. I am one of the few who is willing to give Iron Fist a fair shot. I didn’t HATE the first season, but I absolutely am looking for some leaps for that second one. I loved a lot of the side characters, and I feel Danny still needs to grow as a character. Remember he was a guy who lived in a mystic city for more than a decade. It is hard to convey the grey of this world, especially when he has only seen black or white. That being said, I still feel he is the weakest link of the bunch, effectively ruining some of the show for me. Everyone else is this level headed assassin who is from New Yawk, not New York. Danny is a billionaire who has a very little understanding of nuances and subtleties. Just because I do give him room to grow doesn’t mean I have to really like him yet. I think as a comic book fan it’s hard to be such a fan of “Heroes for Hire” all these years and then see a Danny/Luke team-up and not be wholly excited. Seeing Jessica and Matt interact is amazing, especially since the two of them have that same dry wit that makes their respective shows so great. All in all, I enjoy the team-up, and would love to see more people join their cause *cough* Moon Knight *cough*.

It’s hard being objective as a comic nerd, especially in the age we are living in. Are there some pacing issues? Sure. Does the show suffer from the “Man do we need this many episodes to tell this story?” What Netflix show doesn’t? But who knew that the small screen would be lit up with so much great content, especially from characters we have grown to love and enjoy throughout all these years. Who doesn’t love Daredevil or Luke Cage, or even Iron Fist? I believe this foray into an Avengers type land is warranted and a great start. Of course, we have no idea how this split between Netflix and Disney will complicate things, but as of right now we are living in a golden age. Get hyped, shut your brain off a bit, revisit your favorite characters, and binge your way through another season of Marvel. That is something to absolutely appreciate.

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