The Librarian’s juggling a lot at the moment and because she’s so busy and I was around, she asked me to come and take care of you guys for this week. So, hi, it’s me again, the Man on the Silver Mountain and I thought we’d take a look at something this week which has turned out to be kinda divisive; Netflix’s Marvel Cinematic Universe series, The Defenders.
The Defenders is the culmination of two seasons of Daredevil, and one season each of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Ironfist. It’s essentially the ending of phase one of the Marvel Netflix shows. So to discuss the ending of this part of the MCU we will be discussing the previous shows as well so consider this a spoiler warning for all the Marvel Netflix shows from this point onwards.
So, since it aired The Defenders has had both positive and negative reviews as did Ironfist, the series that came before it and which leads directly into this show by providing the main antagonists for the majority of the show. I feel though that whilst these shows have their flaws they’ve been slightly blown out of proportion by the expectations people had for the show. It seems like a lot of people were expecting this team up series to be more similar to the Avengers team up movies but in a different format. Some people have felt let down though by the fact that it’s less Avengers and more Law and Order: Superhero Unit.
The story in broad strokes is this; The Hand (the bad guys from Ironfist and Daredevil season two) are continuing to cause more trouble but after everything that’s happened so far in the other shows they’re consolidated their forces in New York and they start making waves. This draws Ironfist back to New York and gets Daredevil to return to the streets as a costumed hero, which he’d given up after Daredevil season two and the not-quite-end of Elektra. Thanks to the power vacuum in Harlem that after Luke Cage took out Cottonmouth in his show and Jessica Jones’ role as a private investigator they also get caught up in the web of shady dealings the Hand have laid out across the city. After a little bit of investigating by all heroes they end up meeting up and finding out that they are ultimately the only thing that stands between New York and the collapse of the entire city, including the deaths of many of the inhabitants and they take the fight to the bad guys.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first before we get into the weaknesses the show has and some of the complaints that have been voiced.
First big positive for me is where some of the fights in the previous shows have been a little wonky, either clunky in their choreography or inconsistent in regards to how strong the two super strong characters have been, but in The Defenders they actually seem to have finally found the best balance between letting the brute force heroes do their thing whilst letting our more agile, martial arts-based heroes do theirs without problems occurring or it pulling you out of the action.
Next big positive was the slow build up, which I know not everyone will agree with, the way they let the characters develop and bump into each other over time was interesting to me, it let the mostly isolated shows we’ve had so far overlap organically and gave us, what I feel was, a good way to see how Ironfist’s Danny Rand is still the naïve rich kid on a mission, Luke Cage is not the well-meaning guy with a more street level view of the world but who has no real idea on where to start making things better for those around him, Jessica Jones is still showing the world nothing but a hard exterior whilst tackling her post-Purple Man trauma but her caring nature gets the better of her and how Matt Murdoch is trying to return to his live as a lawyer and not let down the people he loves and cares about whilst haunted by the ghosts that keep coming back to him again and again. After they all get together and agree to take the fight to the bad guys the chemistry between the characters and the way each character grows from the experience of being on a team is something I really liked and I’m looking forward to seeing where those developments take them in the next seasons of each of their respective shows.
The last big success for the show was the cast of villains they had in the show led by the ever-awesome Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra who I thought was a really great villain to stand up alongside the other leaders of the hand that we’ve seen a fair bit of in the other shows like Madame Gao and Bakuto.
Okay, with the good stuff out of the way, let’s talk about where the show fell down a little. First and foremost, as much as Alexandra was a great villainess as a character, both she and Sigourney Weaver’s considerable talent as an actress don’t seem to be put to the best use, often having her float around in the background as a puppet master without actually giving her many puppets to play with. I wouldn’t have wanted to see her be a brawler like some of the other leaders or a mystic like Madame Gao but at times she just seemed to be there without an awful lot to do besides quietly hope her plan worked.
Also relating to villains, this show seems to suffer from the same problem that almost the entire MCU both TV shows and movies has; they kill off all their villains way too fast. I kind of understand why, these aren’t comics, the movies and the actors that star in them have finite amounts of time that they can really continue for, so in killing off a villain completely it counts a story as complete and the franchise can move onto the next thing without loose ends being left around. With all the hand gone though, it means greater instability for some heroes which will breed interesting stories in the future I’m sure but it also just leaves some characters without much direction and whilst being with direction could be a really interesting story in and of itself I don’t feel it would be a story that would complement the other things that have happened throughout all shows thus far.
My last negative point; where are all the other heroes? Yes, I understand the separation between the movies and the TV shows due to filming times and trying to organise between the two but in The Defenders there’s hardly even a reference to the Avengers, something the previous Netflix shows have at least included a little. Even though the Avengers aren’t based wholly in New York anymore you do still have the likes of Spider-Man or Doctor Strange around and both the street level organised crime and mystical activities of The Hand would surely draw their attention as well. Whilst I don’t expect to see Spider-Man and Daredevil working together closely as we’ve seen at various times in the comics, I would like to know what the Avengers and the other heroes in and around New York were doing both at the beginning and end of the season where earthquakes were happening or entire skyscrapers were collapsing.
I realise this is getting to be a pretty long post here but there’s one last thing I want to address and that’s the criticism Ironfist has gotten, both from his own show but also in this one. Lots of people were annoyed at Finn Jones being cast in the role, which personally, I don’t think he’s a bad actor and I don’t think he’s been bad in the role. Other folks have been annoyed at how out of his depth the character seems to have been but and how childish he is in his pursuit of his goals. I feel like that’s pretty much who the character of Ironfist was at the beginning, from the comics I’ve read it seems reasonably in keeping with the way the character started out in at least a couple of iterations. Finally, the thing I’d like to bring up is that being the only character with powers that aren’t always easy to explain but that also come with a duty attached to them, I feel like The Defenders does a good job of dragging Danny Rand as a character kicking and screaming towards at least trying to be more of the character people want him to be. Between the continuous jokes and sarcasm from the others around the origins of his powers to the ending of the season that seems to have the most substantial effect on Danny more so than the other heroes, they’ve started pushing him towards being more grown up about the way he sees the world and maybe more enjoyable to watch as a character for those who were disappointed previously. Maybe we’ll even see him in an costume in Ironfist season two, who knows?
Catch the trailer below!
Either way guys, let us know what you guys think of the show down in the comments and thanks for reading. Your Librarian should be back next week with something good for you but for more from me you can find me on YouTube at Man on the Silver Mountain.
What did you think of Marvel’s ‘The Defenders’? Are you for or against Iron Fist, or wish it was just Jessica Jones? Man on the Silver Mountain would love to know and start a heated debate in the comments! Leave a comment below!
(Header Image: The Defenders, Netflix, 2017)