Marvel’s The Defenders, Episodes 1-4, 2017
Directed by: S. J. Clarkson (episodes 1 & 2), Peter Hoar (episode 3) and Phil Abraham (episode 4)
Starring: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, Eke Darville, Elden Henson, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick, Ramon Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor, Deborah Ann Woll, Elodie Yung, Rosario Dawson, Scott Glenn, Sigourney Weaver
Bringing together the titular characters from Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage and Marvel’s Iron Fist, Marvel’s The Defenders sees the group all come together in New York to fight off against a criminal organisation known as The Hand.
Going into this series the only show of those I’d seen was Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and, thankfully, Marvel’s The Defenders caters for those, like me, who haven’t seen all four shows by carefully revealing each character’s ability and personality, before completely outing them as a superhero. Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is shown to be a lawyer, Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) coming out of jail and trying to help local youths (without being a superhero) and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones) seeking The Hand. Their abilities eventually come to the front but it’s nice to see the character’s non-hero self first, so we can become accustomed to each character before they unite.
Their unification, though, does come a bit late into an eight-episode series. By the end of the second episode each had only come across one other member of the four (Jessica Jones and Luka Cage knew each other prior, but hadn’t met during Marvel’s The Defenders yet). And it took until 38 minutes into the third episode for the shot of the four of them together to happen. While it’s a good build and they each carefully and authentically weave themselves a path to all lead to Midland Circle, and a showdown with The Hand and a recently-brought-back-to-life Elektra (Elodie Yung). A greater length in the series would have made this build up perfect, but knowing that three out of the eight episodes they effectively aren’t together (on a show about them as a group), for me, is too much (especially considering episode four (or the exposition episode) they spent getting accustomed to one another).
The leader of The Hand we are shown is Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver), one of the five ‘fingers’ of the group. She was whom brought Elektra back to life, yet is dying herself, this has caused their planned attack on the city (which will crumble New York) to hasten. Considering the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) exists in the same world as these television series, a planned attack on New York, which could level the city, seems a bit high-stakes for The Avengers to not get involved (especially considering Spiderman lives in New York, Spiderman who has contact with Ironman who could summon some of The Avengers). However they don’t turn up, and it’s down to The Defenders to unite, work together and fight off The Hand themselves.
The character development in these four episodes is brilliant, introducing even the cluless to their abilities and backstories without spending ages talking (although, as mentioned, episode four has a lot of exposition). They’ve united in their fight and have settled all the differences they initially had (like with The Avengers, some of them need to fight each other before they can settle on being on the same side). The colour scheme for this show is very dark, and the humour not as light-hearted as The Avengers, which allows for it to stand on its own merit, rather than being a simple carbon copy, which adds a blend of uniqueness to the show (which is probably difficult considering how many films/shows are now actually involved in the MCU). While leaving only four episodes to start and end their fight against The Hand may not be enough, it’s a solid start to the series.
Overall Rating: * * *