The following is a review of all eight episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders – Created by Douglas Petrie & Marco Ramirez.
It all started extremely well for the Netflix Marvel show universe. Both seasons of Daredevil are very popular, Jessica Jones’ first season was as well. Luke Cage, however, was much more divisive. It was met mostly by praise, but, looking back at it, it’s hard not to be upset with how the latter half of the season was presented.
Then, this year, Iron Fist finally premiered – the final character introduction before The Defenders – but it received so many negative reviews that now the universe didn’t look as appealing as it once did. It was an extremely disappointing show and the Danny Rand-character wasn’t presented well.
Now, The Defenders – a show that I and many others have been looking forward to for a long time – is here, and you may be surprised to learn that Danny Rand works much better when paired with Cage, Jones, or Matt Murdock. Sadly, Rand is even the weakest part of this show, which is good but not nearly as good as it should’ve been.
In Marvel’s The Defenders, four heroes must come together and team up to take down all of the Fingers of the Hand, led by Alexandra (played by Sigourney Weaver) and their weapon the Black Sky (Elektra Natchios, played by Élodie Yung), to protect New York City.
You would think that in the total of 65 episodes that led up to Marvel’s The Defenders, the writers would’ve spent some time connecting the characters so that we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time waiting for the Defenders to team up. Well, if you thought that you would, unfortunately, be wrong.
Sure, sometimes one hero was hinted at on another hero’s show, but that was pretty much all. Carrie-Anne Moss’ character Jeri Hogarth appeared in Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist, while Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple managed to show up on every show. But no discussions were ever too specific, and, for the most part, the Netflix corner of the huge shared universe has kept the references to a minimum.
Thus, the first two episodes are all about building up to a fight that includes all of the Netflix heroes – a Netflix-Marvel trademark hallway fight, no less – which happens at the end of the third episode. That’s right, it essentially takes three whole episodes before they’re all together. Sure, the second episodes sees Matt come to Jessica’s aid, while Luke and Danny Rand also meet — but that is as close as we get to them teaming up in the second episode.
The first couple of episodes are slow and only really convinced me of the fact that I still really don’t like Finn Jones’ Danny Rand. Thankfully, the writers of The Defenders seem to have understood how annoying that character is, because other characters call him out on being dumb all the time.
“You’re the dumbest Iron Fist yet.”
Unfortunately, Danny Rand, although definitely more fun to watch when paired with Luke Cage or Matt Murdock, is too integral to the plot. Seeing as the Hand is the villain of the series, then he, along with Daredevil, is, obviously, the hero most integral to the plot. And, well, that is frustrating.
But not at all as frustrating as how much they’ve wasted an iconic actress on a thankless and forgettable role. Sigourney Weaver plays Alexandra, who is essentially the leader of the Hand. Alexandra is clearly a smart woman, but the only thing Weaver gets to do is hint at the fact that her character is very old and dying. Sigourney Weaver deserves much better than what she has been given.
I was also severely disappointed by the end of The Defenders. It really does feel like they had no idea how to finish the season. It is almost like they didn’t know how to orchestrate a huge and satisfying battle to end it all. The final episode of The Defenders is extremely underwhelming.
However, some parts of the season do work, and they work really well. Episodes four, five, and six (“Royal Dragon,” “Take Shelter,” and “Ashes, Ashes.”) are the very best of the season, and, unsurprisingly, that means the season started to improve once all four heroes were together in the same scenes.
“Royal Dragon,” is the stand-out episode of the season. In the episode, all four heroes bicker about maybe, possibly teaming up together after Stick (played by Scott Glenn) brings them up to speed. Almost the entire episode takes place inside of a Chinese restaurant, and the episode has no right being this entertaining. If only all of the episodes in the series were as fun and entertaining as “Royal Dragon.”
A total of five season led up to the release of Marvel’s The Defenders, which never quite becomes as good as Marvel’s Daredevil but still definitely has great moments. A handful of good-to-great episodes are bookended by some slightly weak episodes that tarnish the experience of watching a couple of great heroes (and Danny Rand) together on Netflix.
– Jeffrey Rex