Updated: Jan 13
Hafa Adai! Today I'm talking The Defenders, Netflix's valiant attempt to craft an Avengers style team on the small screen. Was it good? Bad? Maybe a little of both? Let's discuss Marvel's The Defenders!
All right, I admit it, I'm a fanboy. I love all things comics. Whether it's TV, Movies, cheesy holiday specials or even (believe it or not) actual honest to goodness comic books I can't get enough of the stuff.
On the TV front, I think Marvel has been trailing behind DC for a while now. DC has a whole slew of successful shows that aren't afraid to create their own immersive worlds and aside from avoiding a few sacred cows they are allowed to play in there own low budget sandbox. The Arrowverse and Gotham have really done a fantastic job at being their own thing and creating their own mythology.
Marvel's shows trump the CW in sharp visuals and budgets; however, the shows seem like that annoying kid, who swears up and down that they are secret best friends with the most popular kid in school, they slavishly, and at times annoyingly, refer to their awesome best friend, even though the best friend refuses to acknowledge them publicly. Marvel has the tough job of trying to tie in the TV shows without messing up the secret sauce that is keeping the film universe pumping out the hits.
The Netflix shows have taken a different approach, they keep things street level and barely acknowledge the films. I think it's that independence from the main MCU has made them far better received than their network brethren. They have been stylish, edgy and violent. Not quite hard R but definitely harder than PG-13.
I think it was a valiant effort starting off strong with Daredevil. Wilson Fisk was an engaging villain the fights were brutal and Matt Murdock's guilty conscience made for some interesting drama. The show was a few episodes too long and could've done better without the Stick and Hand stuff. The show worked best when it was more street level and less...comic booky...I know blasphemous right. Daredevil season two is where things start to go a little bit off the rails. Daredevil season 2 had a tremendous first half, with the anti-hero Frank Castle squaring off with Matt Murdock and really challenging his commitment to non-lethal crime fighting which perfectly mirrors Matt's crisis of faith which is a central theme to the show...then the Hand show up and the show starts it's steady decline. The Hand is just boring...it feels forced and the show suffers for it. Netflix continued with it's strongest series to date, Jessica Jones. Killgrave is far and away my favorite MCU villain and his relationship with the PTSD addled Jessica is creepy and really draws you in. Jessica Jones did a great job introducing Luke Cage and superpowers into the mix without beating you over the head with it. In fact you could remove the superpowers from Jessica and the show would still be awesome. The subplot with Nuke was the weakest part of the series and like Daredevil's Elektra subplot seems to be shoehorned in for both fan service and to set up something else down the line. Going into Luke Cage, again it starts off strong, I really enjoyed the music, the style and social commentary. I feel like Mike Colter did a great job portraying the main character, he is probably my favorite Netflix casting choice. The first halves villains Cottonmouth and Mariah were perfect, but once they get replaced by Shades and Diamondback it started to lose me. It was just trying too much to tie everything together, all the villains have to be interconnected to the main character. There was also a problem that Luke Cage never really feels like he's in any real danger at all. The show invents some Chitauri/Hammer tech bullets to raise the stakes but as X-Men Origins taught us magic bullets never help the narrative. Iron Fist was really poorly done. Not only was the casting way off, and I'm not talking about white-washing I honestly don't mind the fact that Danny Rand is a white dude...he's always been a white dude. Finn Jones just was not good as the character. I didn't buy him as a great martial artist or as a man trained to be some great warrior he seemed like an aloof stoner to me. Like all the Netflix series it really should be 6-8 episodes. The villains are once again The Hand. For a group of evil ninja assassins they are just kinda boring. Colleen Wing is introduced and proves herself to be a much stronger protagonist than the title character. This entire season did very little to make me a believer in this series. After a disappointing Iron Fist and a ho-hum ending to both Daredevil season 2 and Luke Cage I really was hoping for a better outing in The Defenders than what we got. The series opens with Iron Fist and Colleen fighting a woman in the sewers and then goes through the obligatory introductions of the main characters...unfortunately it then takes 4 episodes before they get together. I won't go into story details because honestly it wasn't anything to write home about. The villains are the Hand led by Sigourney Weaver are forgettable at best and un-intimating at worst. Truly a disappointing team up in a world of Avengers.