While early reviews for The Defenders are already out, we wanted to give fans an overview of why The Defenders works so well, and why it's worth watching even if some fans were disappointed in the last few installments of the Marvel Netflix Universe.
NOTE: This discussion is based on the first four episodes of The Defenders, and everything here is SPOILER-FREE.
Unlike the DC or Marvel movies, The Defenders offers loyal fans a great deal of payoff for the investments of time and attention.
Each of the heroes in The Defenders team has been thoroughly explored in story arcs that are deeply focused on each respective hero. They've each had more time to build foundation than any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie heroes, and unlike their DC TV counterparts, the Marvel Netflix series don't have sprawling ensembles of supporting characters who cut into the main storylines. Because fans are so deeply intimate and familiar with the characters and worlds of each hero, it makes the experience of seeing all those worlds come together that much richer.
It should also be noted that Defenders does a great job pulling together story threads that were dangled in each individual series, demonstrating some of the best cohesion we've seen from the MCU thus far.
The Defenders is an experiment that lives or dies on the strength of its performers, and we're happy to report that the series seems to mesh each character (and their supporting casts) together effectively, creating fun relationships and interactions along the way. This was a challenge that needed to be met in order to satisfy longtime fans and attract new ones, and thanks to the cast of actors in The Defenders, it's one that's easily met.
Some of the character arrangements/interactions are epically iconic, some are new ones that will impress, and others are minor yet unexpected crossover moments that are fun to see. In short, The Defenders capitalizes on the "worlds collide" appeal of its premise, in the best ways.
Watching Charlie Cox's Daredevil, Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones, Mike Colter's Luke Cage, Finn Jones' Iron Fist, and all their supporting characters dispensing trash-talk, punches, and/or soul-searching advice in shifting arrangements is just as (if not more) fun than seeing them actually battle the evil threat looming over them.
And speaking of that threat...
We're also happy to report that The Defenders gets a great villain in the form of Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra.
As a bona fide geek icon, Weaver doesn't need flamboyant dramatics to make her an effective and intriguing Marvel villain. She struts through her scenes with a quiet, regal grace, making each nefarious stage of her plan feel grounded and methodical - which is important, given some of the fantastical elements The Defenders deals with.
In addition to a great central villain, the show also has some great henchmen to keep the threat dire (and personal) for each of the heroes involved. Finally the show scales things well, with the threat big enough to warrant these four heroes coming together, while keeping it small enough to pass beneath the radar of say, S.H.I.E.L.D. and/or The Avengers.
The Defenders succeeds at bringing its four respective Marvel Netflix series together, but it also succeeds in reminding us what is cool about each individual series and their respective heroes.
In terms of tone and approach, The Defenders truly is a blending of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist instead of a new framework that forces each of them to bend shape to fit a combined mold.
There's always debate about a TV series' narrative approach, and some will think The Defenders has too slow of a build-up to its main story arc. However, others (like us) will admire how the crossover actually takes time to pick up where each show left off, and slowly weave them into a big crossover event.
That build-up provides time for each Defender to let viewers taste his/her flavor - the best possible advertisement for the upcoming new seasons of their respective solo series.
None of this crossover would mean a thing if The Defenders didn't provide the sort of superhero action that Marvel fans expect.
Thankfully, The Defenders does deliver good action, and then some. We get to see each individual hero throw down, see them fight in various smaller (but still awesome) combinations, and, of course, fighting as a complete unit.
If you were worried that the show would suffer from some of the weak fight choreography we saw in Iron Fist, then don't. The Defenders has exciting action in just its first four episodes with even bigger fight sequences sure to come.
You can catch Marvel's The Defenders airing all episodes starting on Friday, August 18th. For more news or information about the show, visit our database page below.