Ever since 2015 and the launch of Daredevil, the Marvel Netflix universe has been slowly building towards The Defenders. A second season of Daredevil followed as well as inaugural seasons for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Now the time has come for the four main heroes of the series to come together and take on The Hand. They are joined by a majority of their supporting cast members from their respective series to help flesh out this side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Does it succeed or does it fail?
Well this is not the same thing as The Avengers did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact it’s a pretty underwhelming affair. The four heroes don’t even all meet up until the end of episode three. What ultimately drives the series down is a lackluster villain. The Hand has been present in both seasons of Daredevil as well as the first season of Iron Fist. Now they are front and center here with Sigourney Weaver playing the head or should I say the main finger of The Hand. Playing the steely villain who we meet as she is just learning that she is set to die in the next few months and so has to advance The Hand’s plans. Elodie Yung reprises her role as Elektra and last we left off with the character, she was dead. Needless to say, she is back and does not get to do…at first but her role ramps up as the episodes go along.
It has been a while since we’ve seen some of the main quartet that makes up The Defenders especially Jessica Jones. So the first two episodes helps to reestablish where these characters are since we last saw them. Luke Cage is being released from prison, Jessica Jones has not progressed that much, Matt Murdock has given up being Daredevil and is clearly suffering from trauma and Danny Rand is returning to New York after hunting down those responsible for K’un Lun’s disappearance. The first two episodes are unique in that each character has their background illuminated by the primary color associated with their character, i.e. Matt Murdock usually has a red background. As the characters slowly come together, the colors blend together.
This event series essentially focuses as an Iron Fist season two. Depending on how you felt about that first season, this could be a negative or positive. I was not a fan of that season but the cracks in the overall Netflix side of the MCU show in this series. It’s clear that there was no real clear plan about what would happen when this show happened. As all the loose ends from the previous seasons, don’t totally mesh with one another. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones since those two series were so separate, it is easy to plop them into a situation. But with everything we learned about The Hand from Daredevil and Iron Fist, it is a mess and doesn’t totally make sense.
The main four actors; Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist reprise their roles. The actors all do a fine and even one in particular do a better job in their role. Finn Jones is probably the most improved as this show is much improved and better written so he is able to match the material. His chemistry with Mike Colter is great and makes you want to see a Heroes for Hire show. The bond between the very secretive Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones, whose job is to invade people’s privacy, is also noteworthy. The four do really spark when interacting with each other.
The supporting cast for me was a little unnecessary for me. While it was nice to see some pop in and out, there seemed to be too much time. I still can’t believe Karen Page is a top reporter. The only ones who were necessary were Colleen Wing, Claire Temple and Misty Knight who basically could be considered Defenders. Special mention goes to Stick, played by Scott Glenn, who reprises his role. Playing the very pragmatic and ruthless blind man who knows more than he lets on. Stick is also an example of making things up as they go as some revelations by the character don’t really make that much sense in retrospect.
The action scenes are pretty much on par with Daredevil season two. It is cool seeing the different fighting styles in the heroes. Daredevil is a brawler with martial arts training. Iron Fist is pure martial arts. Luke Cage has fighting experience due to be a former marine and cop. Jessica Jones just relies on her super strength more than anything. When all four are in fight scenes together, it’s fun watching them mix and match. Luke Cage and Iron Fist seem to have the best fighting chemistry as they compliment one another very well.
Out of all the Netflic Marvel shows so far, this would probably be somewhere in the middle. The shorter episode count definitely helps as there is not that much padding. But the muddled plot and lackluster villains really drag down the season. It does a good job of helping to redeem Iron Fist and hopefully that wave continues into that character’s second season. The conclusion obviously helps set up the next phase (minus The Punisher) of the Netflix Marvel shows. So it does it’s job and now that the characters know one another, more crossovers would be appreciated. So it’s the end of phase one and onto phase two. The future is exciting.