I have usually loved the Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jessica Jones and Daredevil are thrilling, Luke Cage worked really well and Iron Fist… well, we don’t talk about Iron Fist. Jessica Jones most of all, as it was such a different and personal take on the “superhero” world, very all around well-crafted.
Because of that, I was very much looking forward to see them all come together. I love when worlds collide (e.g. Avengers, or the not-so-beloved Captain America: Civil War), and especially with such unique, much less superhero-y characters like these, my expectations were high.
Sadly, I ended up disappointed.
The Defenders is the latest instalment of the Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe. After two seasons of Daredevil, and one season for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist each, The Defenders is the series in which the paths of all four meets and they come together against a common enemy.
I absolutely loved the first episode. It was technically gorgeous, with smart camera angles and mood-setting colour palettes for each character. It felt fresh and unique. For me though, it went a bit downhill from there, especially script-wise.
In terms of main characters, Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and Mike Colter (Luke Cage) are brilliant and have amazing chemistry between each other. Finn Jones (Danny Rand aka Iron Fist) and Elodie Yung (Elektra) however have left me wanting more. Maybe the trio up there worked SO well that everyone else fell a bit flat by proxy, I am not sure. Sigourney Weaver (Alexandra) and Wai Ching Ho (Madame Gao) also shine as some of the “fingers” of The Hand, the criminal organisation The Defenders are trying to take down. Last person worth mentioning is Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Dawson can do no wrong and is an integral piece in this puzzle.
There was brilliant dialogue throughout the series, especially coming from Krysten Ritter who stayed grounded and laughing at Daredevil’s spandex costume. The banter between her and Charlie Cox is always delightful, I loved their chemistry together (and a little part of me wishes he’d forget about Karen Page or Elektra in favour of Jessica Jones). Also poignant was the talk between Luke Cage and Iron Fist, in which the latter gets schooled on his privilege. In fact, Iron Fist is at his least annoying in some of his scenes with Luke Cage.
In my opinion, they haven’t quite found the right tone for Danny Rand and he is not up to par to the other three Defenders in terms of character development and depth. I think Finn Jones is then left hanging out to dry a bit here. I really liked him in Game of Thrones as Sir Loras so I know what he can do with proper character development. If Iron Fist and/or The Defenders gets a second season, I hope they find their ground and allow him to flourish as Rand.
Overall, I’m divided between recommending it or not. I lean towards a yes because it will be central to Daredevil Season 3 and Jessica Jones Season 2, but watch it with a grain of salt and a LOT of suspension of disbelief. It could and should have been better. Netflix knows how to turn out a great series.
We can only hope The Punisher will be as awesome as some of the other individual series. And that Charlie Cox makes an appearance, please.
Also an apology for the lack of images in my posts. I am still trying to figure out how copyright stuff works for blogs as to not get in trouble 🙂
Now, on to spoilerific final comments on the story… (SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!)
My problem with The Defenders’ story are mainly two:
- It felt superficial/silly – The motivations behind the actions of The Hand are weak, too weak to support an entire season of wrongdoings. The concept of the Black Sky and why it is oh-so-important does not become clear. Why Elektra decided to do all she did after the death of Alexandra is also a bit forced. Iron Fist stupidly using his glowing fist in a fight near the exact door he CAN’T PUNCH WITH HIS GLOWING FIST and then proceeding to PUNCH THE DOOR WITH HIS GLOWING FIST thus fulfilling the enemy’s wishes was just… sigh.
- It was a cautionary tale against the concept of Deus Ex Machina/easy ways out – Daredevil’s enhanced hearing suddenly becomes almost god-like, to a point beyond plausibility. And yes, I know we are talking about a fictitious world with bulletproof people, but there have to be SOME rules people. I mean, he somehow knew there was something inside the piano. Or a mere mortal going against a being likely thousands of years old and winning. How a room in a police station loaded with C4 explosives is so easily accessible. How the police station seems to have no cameras (before the lights go out, please).
- Soundtrack – It was not an event. It was bland and mostly imperceptible, playing almost no part in the series. Being a soundtrack fanatic, this bothered me slightly. So much so that when it suddenly changed into a contemporary track in the final battle, it felt awkward.