The Defenders are finally here, and, as much as I am a fan of the Marvel brand, it is another above average serviceable show. That being said, this is not a condemnation for this series, in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike the Avengers, the Defenders assembled rather quickly, and they assembled far more organically, as far as I’m concerned. At this point though, it is starting to get hard to get excited for a lot of these properties. At what point do we stop going through the motions with these type of properties though?
So, off the bat, yes this series is good. Each character is respected and treated like an equal contributor to the team. Matt is the brain, Luke is the muscle, Jessica is the eyes and Danny is the heart. So instead of being an epic action spectacle, it is a crime drama with a heavy emphasis on mystery. Thematically, the show is more a hodgepodge of Jessica Jones and Daredevil than anything. So the Hand shows up, and then the gang has to sleuth. The action sequences are better than they were in JJ, LC and IF, but never reach the heights of the first 2 seasons of DD. That being said, what propels the series is the drama surrounding the characters. To say that the series is without faults is disingenuous. The main problem is that Luke Cage and Danny Rand, the heroes for hire, have zero chemistry together. This is a minor issue because apart from these 2, the Defenders play off each other very well, especially when Stick is on screen. Like in Daredevil, Stick is a highlight of the series. Other than that, is also does not have it’s own identity and only serves as a sequel to these other shows. Perhaps the biggest strength is that, like the privates of a clown, it is short and sweet.
I do want to address the actual team up factor of this series. While I have been critical of Batman V Superman and how the big 3 got together, I have been silent about the Avenger initiative, itself. The Avengers is a perfect summer blockbuster, complete with fun performances, a great script and fantastic action set pieces, but the actual team up feels just like fan service. At the end of the day, who cares, because everything else about that film is a blast. Until The Defenders, themselves, meet, each character feels confined to their respective series. Each one is following a trail that stems from something small that represents the world that that character lives in. Sure, some of them cross paths, but it isn’t a guy in an eye patch saying “the world needs you to save it”. They actually happen upon each other and agree that the world is bigger than them, which I find refreshing.
This Christmas a new Star Wars is coming out, and I really don’t care. Thor: Ragnorok looks so freaking awesome, but I really don’t care. So much quality content is coming to us, and not that I’m fatigued, it’s just that nothing is really special anymore. This year, just on the live action tv front, we had: Iron Fist, Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Defenders and the Punisher. We once lived in an age when we had to wait 2-3 years for some type of nerd property, now we have more than we can keep up with. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just another friday. On that note, I will look forward to Star Wars and Thor a week before they are released, but I am now looking so enthusiastically forward to the IT adaptation and the return of Saw (Jigsaw) because horror is in short demand.
The Defenders does stack up well next to the most other Marvel programs that are so readily available, and it is perhaps only surpassed by Daredevil. The Defenders does struggle a bit to stand on it’s own, unlike the rest of the Marvel shows, and is probably not worth watching if you haven’t caught up with the other Netflix shows or are unfamiliar with the source material. It is a finely written show and feels like a genuine sequel that seamlessly weaves all these characters together in a way that is smooth and clever. We are in an era, though, where we have so much content that it’s hard to find something on tv or the big screen that is classified as must see. If you have been a fan of what Marvel has been doing on Netflix, I believe you will be quite pleased, but there is enough content available that there isn’t a real rush to get to this. As far as I’m concerned, Daredevil is the pinnacle of television, and it will be a feat, so herculean, to surpass.