Review: Best part about Marvel’s The Defenders is that it’s not a carbon copy of Avengers, despite revolving with the same all-heroes assembled formula. There’s no need a Nick Fury figure to unite Marvel’s heroes streamed at Netflix. Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and the man-boy, Iron Fist (Finn Jones) are intertwined in their own business until sophisticated web of conflicts tangled them. And that’s a good sign, given the individual shows’ uneven height.
To begin with, this assemble isn’t at the same height as Netflix-Marvel’s best—that would be the first season of Daredevil and the cancerous single season of Jessica Jones. Yet, it’s definitely far more superior to the weakest—that would be Iron Fist. The Defenders might be in tie with the convoluted second season of Daredevil, but has more substance presented in a more straightforward manner.
At the beginning, it might look like an extended prologue to each solo series highlighting the heroes’ specific traits and re-introducing supporting characters. Styles are heightened but blended pretty while in the background to emanate each character’s traits. Daredevil’s urban vigilante atmosphere is often accompanied by dim red light showering the character. Same goes with other characters: Jessica Jones’ detective persona, glowing purple; Luke Cage’s thug enforcer, illuminating yellow; while Iron Fist’ oriental feels, radiating green.
After some expositions, it’s clear that The Defenders come following the arc that has been first introduced in Daredevil’s second season and further in Iron Fist’ beleaguered faith. The story revolves around the mysterious organization, The Hand, which mysteriously controls and poisons society. Familiar villainous faces are also re-introduced, but nothing more intriguing that the return of Elodie Yung’s Elektra Natchios. Elektra returns in a more gruesome fashion and more badass role than her tenure in Daredevil. However, the star of this series is actually the mastermind: a new character, Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver), who orchestrates the sinister reunion in The Hand’s body. Her presence is one critical element that Defenders is a binge-worthy series.
If you should regret one thing, you would undoubtedly regret that the whole story actually makes Danny Rand a.k.a. the self-claimed Immortal Iron Fist as a central figure. While the series seems to acknowledge Rand’s straightforward flaw as a losing ground rich man-child with responsibility (note that, at some points, other characters seem to neglect him or simply ignore his claims), Defenders seems powerless in over-throwing him from the spotlight. The writer has indeed done extra writing to ‘correct’ this character and acknowledge his unruly incompetence; but, the character’s failing has become a genetic blemish that it might take a serious event to redo him.
Other key characters are on point. Matthew Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil entangles in cant-and-mouse game with Jessica Jones before escorting the latter to an unholy reunion with Cage. At one point, the series clearly attempts to match Rand with Cage, which has proven to be a fruitful attempt; but, at another point, it seems that Marvel-Netflix would like to blend their solo series for future renegade. Supporting characters are playing okay, as long you’ve known ‘their roles’ in the solo series. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, whom at first are the alleged Nick Fury of The Defenders, is having a toned down role in the story. Only Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing and Simone Missick’s Misty Knight get some enlightenment and even future possibility to have actually solo series.
With eight episodes on the run (shorter than the usual 13 episode tenure), The Defenders is full of fan-service moments, including intriguing future references from the comic book. It’s fun to watch the hero and the anti-hero get together to kick some asses. However, the series fails to launch the exhilaration into a full combat mode action bonanza. Fighting sequences in Defenders are only slightly better than in Iron Fist, although it seems that Finn Jones has improved pretty well from his last venture. With an arc which resembles Daredevil’s storyline, it’s disappointing that we don’t see a neatly choreographed fighting sequences the size of Daredevil’s stairway scene, or at least, the size of Luke Cage’s bombastic slam. The action scenes feel bland most of the time and artificial at some points. Even the money-shot a.k.a. the corridor scene we’ve seen in the trailer is too short and awe-less.
Another good thing is: this whole session works best as a stepping stone to the characters’ future solo series. Marvel and Netflix will surely adjust one thing and another for the characters as they might even launch new heroes to the roster or create spin-off. Yet, if there will be another season of Defenders, they get to make sure that it actually works as an actual arc. If not, cross-series story might actually work better than this.