Marvel's The Defenders Review on Netflix: Some Right, a Lot Wrong
*Note: Some spoilers ahead!
First, let me start with my overall impressions of the show: I enjoyed watching it, if only because we've had to wait a long time to see Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and The Devil of Hell's Kitchen on screen again at all. Better yet, they were all going to be together.
Sort of. The show took the first two episodes building up the current lives and worlds of each of the separate characters after their respective shows before actually bringing them together at all, and then it does it in the most haphazard way imaginable: "You were at the same place as me fighting baddies? We should totally be friends!"
Worse, the show spent a lot more time justifying why each character was chasing after the hand: Luke to help one wayward kid, Jessica to help a client, and Matt...
Well, Matt doesn't want to be there at all. He will simper and whine each time someone asks him to help and even after he finds out Elektra is back he still wants out. He can't make up his mind whether he wants to go rescue Elektra ("She hesitated!") or if he just wants to bail and abandon her because he's trying to make Foggy happy and not be a crime fighter anymore.
It was the weakest portrayal of Daredevil yet, and I'm almost grateful it happened here instead of in the actual show because it left a lot to be desired.
The problem with the way the show justified their various personal reasons for why they wouldn't want to work together is that by the end of their meetings there was no reason to think they would. The worst disbelief we are asked to suspend is that these people would actually want to be on the same team.
Jessica was a positive in the story, and her selfish reluctant hero vibe worked fairly well. In particular I thought the scene of Stick yelling at her to shut up and sit down, and she flat ignores him, was good if a little forced. I felt like she was one of the few characters playing directly in her wheelhouse.
Luke Cage in his first conversation with Danny about privilege really helped to spell out exactly how poor the Iron Fist is in the show.
I thought that the fact that their powers are relatively low was another plus of the show, but that forced it to continually emphasize that they are just strong. Everyone sort of felt like they had the same power, except Luke Cage who was bullet proof. I thought it left room for growth overall for some cool things to come.
Danny is the McGuffin of the story and what the baddie is after, but he is the weakest character by far. The fact that after his conversation he decides to go after the Hand 'another way' and dons a suit and tie felt weak in the worst possible sense.
The fact that the show took so long to get anything happening was also a low point. Danny and Luke fighting in the street felt like they wanted to recreate the Captain America and Thor battle in the woods with the hammer and shield moment, but it never really felt like it. The problem is: Danny is supposed to be amazing at fighting and a living weapon, but he doesn't feel like it at all.
I also felt like the way Luke Cage and Danny met, just using Clare to say: "I think there's someone you should meet" felt a little phoned on. They tried to build up character tensions and the macho attitudes of the two men meeting for the first time and it really fell flat.
It wasn't quite what I expected, and I wish there had been more action, especially in early episodes. I love all of the characters independently, but the tension in this just felt forced and I would have honestly preferred if they spent less time justifying the characters' individual motivations.
It's worth a watch, especially if you are invested already, but much like Iron Fist it had a lot of potential and sort of fell flat. Grand ambitions being lost in the shuffle. It scratched an itch, but it felt like it was just too-little-too-late.
All in all, at this point I'm mostly just looking forward to the Punisher getting his own series.