By now, Marvel has become a well oiled machine when it comes to accurately representing the heroes from its comics in live action shows or movies. So it was surprising to me when the Defenders didn’t really hit its mark.
On paper it should have been an obvious win. Dare Devil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, The Immortal Iron Fist; all of these characters should have been just as badass as the Avengers. Sadly, they felt like they did better apart than they did together. While there are obvious awesome moments, and witty banter between the 4 heroes, the majority of it felt like they HAD to be together, not that they WANTED to be together. It was like watching a guy go on a blind date with his best friend because his best friend is really into this girl. The guy wants to be there for his friend, but does he really want to be with this weird ass chick that he has nothing in common with? No.
The coming together of these 4 super powers feels forced, not natural. Yes, in the Avengers they don’t all get along at first, but by the end they’re a real team. They recognize the benefits of coming together and working as a cohesive unit to bring down the bad guy, and it shows. The Defenders feels more like they came together because how else are they going to win? You don’t get that same feeling of camaraderie. It’s just four strong individuals all in the same place at the same time because why the hell not. Like watching a toddler try to fit a circular shape into a square hole, he can try as much as he wants but we all know it won’t fit.
For the most part, the four had pretty good solo shows. Ironfist is just as whiney, but aside from that they all had successful outings on their own. So why did they not work as well when they came together? Daredevil keeps ditching the team to try to stick it in Elektra one last time, Iron Fist underutilised his Iron Fist, Luke Cage gets caught up in trying to “do the right thing” and Jessica Jones is an alcoholic. Seriously, the girl needs help. You don’t see any of them truly set aside their personal intentions for the greater good. Yes they save the city, but only after they blow up a chunk of it. That’s another thing! “We need to stop the Hand from blowing up the city!” A part of the city still gets blown up? I mean come on!
Aside from the lack of unity between these guys, the series suffers from an even bigger issue.
Marvel has a monopoly on the super hero genre right now. They produce great movies and most of their television shows haven’t done too bad. What has always riddled the company with problems though, is that more often than not, they fail to deliver a good villain. Villains make a Hero. They make the good guy rise to the occasion, learn from a mistake, and ultimately become a better person for it in the end, as well as gaining what they need to beat the bad guy. The Defenders has a hard time deciding who this “bad guy” is. Alexandra is supposed to be THE villain; and kudos to Sigourney Weaver for trying like hell.
OK, so you have Alexandra who wants to be immortal. She uses all of the Hand’s magic juice to bring Elektra back to life and become a living weapon. Then you have Madam Gao, Murakami, Bakuto, and Sowande who are the “five fingers” of the Hand. They all want to stay immortal as well, but you don’t really know the extent of how or why they’re all immortal in the first place. We are just supposed to assume it’s from the black tar they used on Elektra.
You have ALL of these villains, new and old, coming together to fight the Defenders. The issue is none of them stand out more than the rest. They’re no different from the street thugs they have working for them except they get dialogue. Honestly, if they didn’t get to speak they would blend in with the rest of the bad guys and no one would know the difference. The utter lack of knowing who runs the show takes away from the threat itself, and makes things come off as unorganised.
All of that being said, the action scenes are, for the most part, fun to watch. Dare Devil is still a level above the rest, so watching him fly around the screen kicking ass is just as enjoyable as it ever has been. Aside from that, the show just drags. All of these characters coming together and interacting should be fun as hell! Instead, we get boring dialogue and padding that takes two to three episodes to lead up to a 10 minute fight scene. For a series that only has 8 episodes, that’s a problem. Between Dare Devil and Iron Fist, we all know who the Hand is. You don’t need to spend entire episodes building up to whatever bad shit they’re planning. Tell us what it is and move on with it.
I love character development. When good development is happening I don’t mind episodes of dialogue. The Defenders has episodes of dialogue with little to no character development. By the end the characters still feel almost the same as when they started. So you have a show with poor pacing, sub-par character development, and villains that don’t know who is leading them or what to do with the power they have. Honestly, the action and the fact that Marvel has their name on this is the only redeeming qualities of this series.
If you want to see the Defenders for what they truly are, read the comics. OR, fast forward to the end of the final episode so you can see the Punisher teaser, that’s the best part of this series. I look forward to DareDevil in his own show again. Hopefully season two of the Defenders will learn from these mistakes and give us a show worth while.