Marvel’s The Defenders Review: Episodes 1-4

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Here is our spoiler-free Marvel's The Defenders review; what's coming when the superheroes team up on Netflix

Here is our Marvel’s The Defenders review; what’s coming when the superheroes team up on Netflix

At the San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, Netflix showed a new trailer for Marvel’s The Defenders and we got a chance to chat with the stars of the show. We also got a look at the first four episodes. Here is our The Defenders review in advance of the show’s premiere on the streaming service on August 18. Our The Defenders review does have some spoilers, so if you want to go in completely fresh, wait until you’ve watched. You’ve been warned.

The Defenders features Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock/Daredevil), Kristyn Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Finn Jones (Danny Rand/Iron Fist) and Sigourney Weaver (Alexandra).

We’ve gotten to know the characters that will become The Defenders in over 60 episodes of television, so we’ve been waiting a long time to see them as a team. Well, there is more waiting to be done. For a show that boasts only eight episodes, it takes an awfully long time to see the superheroes (though Jessica would hate that description) team up. Though we see the first meetings of a few here and there (as you’ve seen in the trailers), we don’t get the final group together until the end of episode three. One could argue that for a show that releases all their episodes at once, this might not seem like a bad decision. You’re not waiting weeks to get watch the next chapter in the story. You can certainly binge watch them all in one night. The thing is, The Defenders takes a very, very meandering path to get there. Sure, that path is full of Sigourney Weaver and cameos from Foggy (Elden Henson), Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), Trish (Rachel Taylor) and Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), but it’s not enough to keep you from yelling at the screen, “Oh, just get them together already!”

When we begin, we learn that things have been rough for our heroes.The show starts out with an insanely dark fight with Danny and Colleen in Cambodia that ends up bringing him back to New York. He’s been chasing The Hand, and a dying combatant tells him that what he’s looking for will be found there. Chasing The Hand is what brings Danny in contact with Luke. As you may know from the comics, Danny and Luke have a best buds relationship, and as the show goes on, their chemistry is apparent. We find Luke on his way out of jail and trying to find out what’s been happening to the young men of Harlem. Jessica is busy trying to shed her hero status and drinking like a fish again. However, when a case lands on her doorstep and it becomes clear that it’s more than a missing persons thing, she heads off to find out what’s going on and gets herself arrested. Surprise, surprise, Matt ends up as her lawyer. These two do not like each other at all, and Matt isn’t exactly in a great state either. He has given up the hero life and is working pro bono cases, though the fighting is a drug to him and he can’t stay away.

The thing that works so beautifully here is the banter between the members of the group, and we get to see very little of it until the fourth episode. I suppose that, if you look at the entire Netflix superhero library as a whole, after we’ve seen the entire thing down the line, it won’t seem that slow, but I kept wondering when they were just going to get on with it. The scenes where they come together are wonderful, making it all the more obvious that it should have happened far sooner.

That said, the actual threat works, at least so far. Weaver’s Alexandra is riveting as always, and her involvement with the big bad of the season is fascinating. (We won’t spoil it for you.) The scene featuring the return of an Elektra with no memory was fun, but mostly because she was so difficult to watch in the second season of Daredevil. Yung did her best, of course, but there was no arc for her character the way there is in the comics. It never made sense that Matt loved her so deeply, the way she was presented. Obsession, sure, but love? That failing in the earlier show makes his feelings about her in The Defenders lack any sort of real punch. Seeing Yung get a chance to work with a character that isn’t constantly snarking was refreshing. It will be interesting to see where the second half of the season takes them both.

One thing that stood out was the color. Yeah, I know that usually when you mention things like lighting, it’s because the rest of the show was boring. Not so, despite my few complaints. As fans who’ve watched the other shows know, each character has a color that is used in the lighting, for instance, Jessica’s predominant color is purple. In The Defenders, when we see the characters solo, we see their particular color. When they finally join forces in a restaurant, all the colors are mingled in the background. Interestingly, Alexandra is constantly swathed in clothing and surroundings that are white, silver, grey and a little gold. The whole thing is a clever nod to the comic book origins of the characters. Though they aren’t in costume (well, maybe Jess and her jeans could be considered one), they still get a theme.

For fans, this is definitely worth a watch, though getting to the actual story might be frustrating for some. When the team up finally does happen, it’s pretty satisfying. If you haven’t seen all the other series, fear not. A lot of time is spent explaining. Hopefully we can let that go in the second half.

Blind ninja. Smart-ass detective. Bulletproof ex-con. Kung Fu billionaire. Marvel’s The Defenders centers on four outsider heroes that have to put aside their personal issues and come together when a villainous sect threatens to destroy New York City as we know it. The Netflix original series launches globally on August 18, 2017.

What did you guys think of our The Defenders review? Are you excited for the show? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.