W.A.F. Reviews: "The Defenders" (2017)
Before I finish out reviewing the trilogy of Incredible Hulk films from the 1980s, I thought I would put that aside for now and turn my attention to Marvel’s Netflix Universe. Since 2015, we have witnessed the adventures of a blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, a no nonsense private investigator with a drinking problem, a tough everyman with impenetrable skin, and a rich orphan who is taught in the ways of the mystical arts to make his fist glow. But, much like Marvel did with their movie heroes, it was finally time to take these characters out of their respective solo series, and put them all together in one overarching story. Does it work? Let’s take a look at “The Defenders”!
And of course, I must warn all of you, there will be spoilers abound. So if you have yet to witness all 8 episodes yourself, feel free to bookmark this page, then return once you have finished.
To start off, let me say that of all the shows that aired before this team-up, my favorite had to be the first two seasons of “Daredevil”. They managed to bring that character to life in a way nobody expected in April 2015, mainly because up to that point all we ever really saw in the MCU was PG action that sometimes drifted into a PG-13 world, only to be pulled back. “Daredevil” was practically a hard R, filled with the violence and content that would usually be found in those areas, with a few exceptions.
I felt that the first three hours were fairly good in the way of reintroducing us to the characters we would be following, although at times I found myself begging for them to move things along, and actually start to make some sense. And as the episodes continued, all the way up to the final one, I have no problem saying that even as I write this, I still don’t really understand what The Hand was after, or the stuff about the Black Sky, or this mysterious Substance, or even why Karen and Matt decided to split apart when the last time we saw the two of them at the end of “Daredevil” season 2 he had finally unveiled to her that he was the Devil of Hells Kitchen. There’s even a part in the final episode where Danny Rand and Madam Gao are talking in an underground cavern, and these words are said:
MADAM GAO: You waste your energy. Save it for the larger battle to come.
IRON FIST: Is this place what I think it is?
MADAM GAO: These beasts have given both of us so much. Though, even power great as yours pales in the face of eternal life.
Seriously, I had to search online just to find out that this was apparently the fossilized skeleton of a Dragon from K’un-Lun that they were standing in. And I read comics!
The casting is once again great. We’ve already seen how Mike Colter’s Luke Cage and Kristen Ritter’s Jessica Jones interact with each other, but finally witnessing the both of them standing side by side with Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Finn Jones’ Danny Rand/Iron Fist was awesome. They all seem to gel really well together. Regarding Jones, I am still waiting patiently for Marvel to really give him something worthy of his time. He was decent here, but still not what fans are really wanting with the Iron Fist character. I did fully enjoy the scenes he shared with Luke Cage, though, hinting at the Heroes For Hire. Elodie Yung also does a fantastic job in the role of Elektra/Black Sky. The one that shocked me the most was Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra Reid. I felt she was a great villain, but there was just something that had me wishing she was really going to open up with the character even more, and possibly be a big physical challenge for the heroes once they came together. Instead, she’s more of a cerebral villain, sticking to high society places and big board rooms. Although she really brought it when it came to scenes of her character handling the fact that her body is dying while also acting as a Mother to newly resurrected Elektra/Black Sky.
All in all, this was a compelling series to watch, especially if you’ve been following along with the other shows the whole time. Marvel had a chance to do something truly unique here. Tell a story of heroes coming together to stop an evil organization hidden in the shadows and keep it grounded in the streets of New York. And while they did do that, I can’t help but wonder what the film heroes would have thought if New York had suddenly crumbled and was destroyed, seeing as how the films and the Netflix shows are loosely based in the same world. The one thing I hope to see an answer to in the future is how they plan to explain that all these Netflix heroes who are based in New York DON’T somehow interact with a kid in a Spider costume who also calls New York his home. Until next time…