Season 1 of The Defenders is available on Netflix August 18.
Fair warning: This review will not be entirely spoiler-free, but I will keep spoilers to a minimum. Read at your own risk.
The Defenders is a textbook Netflix Marvel show. It has everything we’ve grown to expect from these shows, including plenty of street fights, dragging plot, and drop-ins by people from our heroes’ pasts. The show is certainly entertaining (despite an underwhelming villain and some questionable writing choices), and I think it’s worth the watch.
Now, let’s get into The Defenders.
The plot trap
Every Marvel Netflix original has fallen into the same trap: The show is way too long for the plot. While The Defenders has fewer episodes (only 8 instead of the usual 13), the writers still fell into the trap. Since this show is shorter, they could have avoided this issue, but there were some arguable decisions that led to the same mistakes.
First was the idea to give an incredible amount of background. This is a good concept, as someone who hasn’t watched all four solo shows can still understand where this show picks up for each of the heroes, but despite all the history the show provides for the viewer, the characters also have to catch the others up when they get together. The background ends up being repetitive, and it takes up a crazy amount of time.
Related is the issue of how the writers paced the plot. The characters are brought together by four seemingly unrelated subplots that all end up being connected. However, it takes them half the series before they end up a partially-official team. By that point, there is a lot less time for super awesome team crime fighting. There is so much build-up and not nearly enough time with The Defenders as a unit.
The catch-up dragged on and on, leaving the action to be rushed. It makes you wonder: Was all that backdrop worth it?
There was no really big plot twist. In fact, I found things to be somewhat predictable. Still, I do care about many of the characters, so I was interested to watch just for their development alone.
I want to rave about the use of color in the series, which is incredible. They fuse the red, purple/blue, green, and yellow from each of the original shows strategically, and it’s beautiful. Lighting has always been a huge success in these Marvel shows – lighting and fight scenes, anyway. Camera work is similarly impressive, as is the score. Seriously, the creative decisions are amazing.
Alexandra and The Hand
The Hand is the principal villain of The Defenders, which means the story is centered mainly around Danny Rand – a choice which I’m seriously questioning after the absolute train wreck that was Iron Fist.
Iron Fist aside, Alexandra and The Hand really aren’t up to the caliber of villain we know these Marvel shows are capable of. Especially for a criminal organization that has crossed over to multiple shows already and is supposed to be extremely frightening, it was disappointing to not have to worry about their influence at all. During all 8 episodes, I never once feared for our heroes.
“I am the immortal Iron Fist”
While the show does try to give the heroes and villains equal screen time, I could’ve done with a lot less Danny Rand. Since the story is primarily Iron Fist-based, we get a lot of him. Danny is by far the least interesting of the four Defenders, and he acted very much like the childish billionaire he is.
But we didn’t have to do all the teasing. Luke Cage steps up as the sarcastic voice we all need, making fun of Danny every chance he gets. Thank you, Luke, for making Danny more tolerable.
The next Avengers?
The Defenders brings four unwilling heroes together to fight a threat bigger than themselves – sound a bit The Avengers to you? There are quite a few similarities between the two Marvel team-ups. There is fighting among the heroes at first – until they learn they are stronger together. Once they finally become a team, everything just works. Through trust and sacrifice, the four characters end up almost like a family.
A highlight of the show is the cameos from some characters from the heroes’ solo shows. We see Trish, Malcolm, Karen, and Foggy – among others. I won’t spoil every character drop-in for you. Oh, and what would a show with these specific heroes be without Claire Temple?
The Defenders may have its flaws, but it is totally worth watching. After watching, it makes sense that Marvel would pull these four heroes together.
Jessica and Luke are stand-out characters, much like their respective shows are pretty much agreed upon to be the best of the Netflix originals. Matt was a wonderful character too, and Charlie Cox continues to be a giant teddy bear. Yeah, Iron Fist is annoying, but he is a part of the team too. Besides, Jessica’s one-liners and Luke’s teasing more than make up for the disappointment.
If you liked Daredevil, Jessica Jones, or Luke Cage, then check it out. It has all the elements that made those shows so addicting and enjoyable, and I think you’ll be entertained at the very least. I won’t say much more for fear of spoilers, but The Defenders is definitely not a waste of time.
PS – Definitely stick around for the post-credits scene!
What did you think of ‘The Defenders’? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!
Season 1 of The Defenders is on Netflix now.
(Image: Marvel& ABC Studios )