Marvel’s Defenders is without a doubt the most eagerly awaited of the Marvel Netflix partnership. Bringing Ironfist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and DareDevil together to defend New York City from Alexandra and the Hand.
First impressions? It’s slow. Very slow. The first episode is more of a re-introduction to the characters and that’s great considering it’s been a while since Daredevil first aired. Understandably the first episode doesn’t focus on Danny Rand and his adventures all that much, being the most recent we hardly need refreshing on who he is and what he’s about. The first episode isn’t the problem though, it’s the next two.
Nothing all that amazing happens really and it’s not until the end of episode 3 that the plot and characters really find their feet. It’s a real shame considering how the series is only 8 episodes long and you spend the first three episodes doing very little. Fair enough if they moved much faster I’d probably be complaining that it felt rushed, there’s a delicate balance and it’s difficult to achieve.
The characters themselves though are just as we left them so long ago. Jessica Jones is still surly and pretty much always drunk, Luke is the quiet power we came to know, not even Matt has changed much from his old days. Most disappointingly though is Danny Rand, sure he’s the same as he was but that’s the problem. In Iron Fist he was a whiney little bitch (there, I said it) and he hasn’t changed much if at all. That being said though, their on screen chemistry and interactions are nothing but flawless. Jess and Matt bounce off each other brilliantly and Luke and Danny trade banter effortlessly, fast becoming friends despite their shaky start.
Sigourney Weaver is a pretty outstanding cast choice (as you’d expect) and delivers Alexandra’s character perfectly. The ruthless business tycoon with sinister ulterior motives behind everything isn’t a role we normally see her in but she does it superbly! She’s difficult to dislike despite being manipulative and creepy simply because of how great a job she does!
Now we all know each of the other series had very distinct styles and colour palettes, something The Defenders handles brilliantly. You can immediately tell who is going to be the focus of the next scene based on the colour scheme. Red = Daredevil, Blue/Purple = Jessica Jones, Yellow = Luke Cage and obviously Green = Iron Fist. It’s simple yet effective and each scene features their character’s primary theme pretty consistently, it’s not so obvious it hurts but rather tastefully delivered. Especially the restaurant scene after the boardroom battle. Each character is sat in front of their respective colours in some way or another, it’s subtle and beautiful for it!
Something all the Marvel Netflix series have all done particularly well in is their fight scene choreography and Defenders is by no means an exception. All four characters have their own unique fighting styles and despite only seeing all of them fight together once at the end of episode 3, its incredibly impressive. Matt’s brutal but efficient take downs clearing a path for Jessica to walk through and begin beating people down is a fantastic shot, coupled with the Unbreakable Luke Cage and Ironfist taking a room full of dudes armed with automatic weapons as if they do it every other weekend. The pairs fight fantastically on their own and even better as a cohesive super squad. Danny reflexively ducking behind Cage as the dudes permeate the air with lead then proceeding to leap out from behind him to knock them all on their ass is another great moment!
Sure it’s a little slow to get started and the character introductions to each other take a while but when The Defenders finally gets going it really takes off. Despite the slow start the pacing of episodes 3 and 4 is spot on. They build to a dramatic concluding fight them our four exhausted heroes seek refuge and take a chance to ask each other exactly what the hell is really going on. The fact that it takes four episodes for the plot to get explained to everyone seems a little slow, but within the pacing of the show it makes complete sense.
Overall the first half is a little slow to start but everything else comes together in such a way that you don’t mind all that much, the characters work great together and there isn’t a bad scene so far. Everything serves its purpose, maybe I’m just a little impatient…I’m excited to see what the last half has in store and just how this is all going to play out!