Let's Fangirl

Our Very Late ‘Defenders’ Review

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A few months back I finally had the time to binge through Marvel’s “Defenders” series, but it was only until recently that our editor had the chance to review my review.

When you think of the word, binge, you would assume that the show was so good I couldn’t stop myself. I felt as if the Defenders left me wanting more, but only because the 8 episode arc was just meh in comparison to the heroes stand alone series.

Prior to The Defenders we had the introduction of Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and his own series. It had a good, realistic message on top of an action show with a likable character.. And it also had an engaging story! And as you can tell from our review of DareDevil Season 1, we’re a major fan of the intense and gritty fight scenes. When it came to Jessica Jones, this show touched base on real life trauma by discussing both physical and emotional abuse in relationships. And when it came to Iron Fist, well, it was necessary to bring us to ‘The Defenders’. You couldn’t have The Defenders without Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist!

But when you had all these amazing seasons leading up to something that should be compared as a TV version of ‘The Avengers’, it seems that The Defenders falls short of everything the Marvel Universe has produced to date.

Since I want to end this review on a high note, let’s start with the cons.

IT’S TOO DAMN SHORT.

Seriously. An 8 episode series bringing together all of these characters with a cliffhanger ending is a pretty shitty move.. And ya’ll know it. Every other Netflix show for Marvel has been 13, 1 hour long episodes which is the perfect length to really expand a story and let your characters grow individually and together. Having to sit through 8, 1 hour episodes was not enough time to really get into the team composition and I felt that it left too many unanswered questions by the end. I’m sure they have to leave some room to bounce off into Season 2, but some of these questions really needed answers.

Question 1

In the ‘Iron Fist’ show, Harold Meachum’s character is given the “substance” which is known to bring people back to life. This is the same substance that The Hand was searching for this season. If they were so limited on the substance, why did it seem they were just giving it out to everyone? I understand the importance of putting Harold Meachum in their pockets, but if I was getting low on my elixir of life, I would’ve just tried a different way to go about it.

Question 2

During ‘Iron Fist’, Harold dies a 2nd time thanks to his son, Ward, yet a few days after dying he comes back to life. Was he just a special case that triggered somehow? Was it because the pond water he was dropped in was special? If not, then why did The Hand have to redip themselves in the substance to keep living?

Question 3

They mention that every time someone comes back to life, they go more and more crazy. If the major heads of The Hand have been alive for 1000’s of years, then how come they all seem pretty damn sane? Was it special training from being from Kun Lun? Does the craziness wear off after a certain period of time?

Now that the questions are out of the way, let’s get to the other issues I had with The Defenders.

POOR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT FOR THE VILLAINS.

The 8 episode season left the show feeling like the abridged version and characters feeling shallow and 2 dimensional. Here we have the head members of The Hand, yet a blind ninja, an invincible ex-con, an alcoholic P.I. with super strength, and Danny Rand The Immortal Iron Fist, were able to take them down. The thing that upsets me the most is that during nearly all of the fights it never felt like they had The Defenders on the ropes! These are supposed to be highly trained, wise, ninja master killers, yet a rag tag team of capes were able to take them down.

It’s not just that they were kind of push overs, it was also the fact that we never really got to explore any of the new villains introduced.

First, we get Murakami. He is supposedly the deadliest of them all. The main is introduced as he is doing taxidermy on an Asian Black Bear that he killed by himself. He is nonchalantly talking about the experience as if he was talking about driving down to the store for groceries. From the start it seems like he is going to be the big baddie of the season, and a force to be reckoned with. But he is just another let down. We never really find out much more about him, and he gets his ass kicked and hard during most of the fights. We don’t ever understand his motivation and never see a good view of his personality, let alone any back story. He really fell flat as far as villains go in the Marvel Universe.

Second, we get Sowande. He is supposedly a tough cookie, but first impressions leave us seeing him more as a cheap corner store pimp. He shows up with a white pimp suit, using kids as his personal murder scrubbers. At one point, he is captured by The Defenders and started talking up this bizarre story about how one time he was captured, but after a few days of being a hostage they were begging him for mercy! There was so much emphasis on this story that it felt somewhat comedic when Luke Cage knocked him out on his own early on and then somewhat after he tells this story Stick beheads him without breaking a sweat. Once again, another villain portrayed as a promising enemy only to be a major let down.

And finally we get Alexandra Reid. While her background is a bit more developed than the new to the series counterparts, we don’t really get anything extra about her. Throughout the series we find out her motivations and dig a bit into what makes her tick as a character. But she still felt pretty 2 dimensional in the grand scheme of things. My major issue with her character is that she is supposed to be the big shot of The Hand, even more powerful than the other members.. Yet she lacks charisma and any sense of control over the others.

Her zealous devotion to the prophecy of Black Sky kind of teeters on the verge of being idiotic. She knows that they are super low on that sweet riving serum, yet she uses the last bit of it to revive Elektra without consulting the other members. She never has to get her hands dirty in the fight because someone else will, so most of the time she sits on her high horse watching the action. It’s my understanding that Sigourney Weaver didn’t want to do action scenes, so my question here is why hire her for the role if she was just going to act as a cardboard cutout standee?

The action scene we got felt phoned in, which also tied in with her overall performance. Maybe I just expected more out of her and held the role to a higher standard.. After all, she was no Kingpin. He had charm, charisma, he was vicious, clever and menacing. Yet Alexandra didn’t feel like any of those. She felt manipulative, cold and deceiving which are great traits for the normal villain, but we didn’t have enough time to bond with her and see her in action as the head of The Hand. It was a character that was overhyped and played by a film legend, with a lackluster performance for the time allotted for this season.

To summarize, Netflix easily could have taken one episode for each of these characters to give a bit more depth to them. I would have loved to see an episode of them when they were in Kun Lun, as this would help further establish the story line of their immortality and could tie in to the betrayal of Kun Lun to become immortal. I would have loved to see Sowande or Murakami become a BAMF in their respective roles. Maybe even a flashback to when The Hand started having internal struggles and what brought that along. But nope! Instead we received luke warm villains that I felt nothing short of being cheated when I saw them die.

Let’s talk about the pros.

THE HEROES STOLE THE SHOW.

Our beloved heroes were definitely the real stars and saving grace of the show. The chemistry between the team felt authentic. They weren’t all buddy buddy from the start of the show, which is what I would expect from four random strangers meeting for the first time. We get DareDevil keeping himself at a distance from the rest of the team because he keeps secrets from them. And while it makes sense for his character, you can see the tension building between the others and it was somewhat infuriating to watch, in the best way. I was completely immersed in these scenes and would audibly become upset over the fact that DareDevil wasn’t trusting his team and refusing to be a team player.

While I’ve seen a lot of people upset at Danny Rand’s character because he is hard-headed, impulsive and quick to anger.. I enjoyed that they kept him consistent. During Iron Fist Season 1, he was actually the same and only a short time passed between that season and The Defenders. They don’t try to portray him as some saint who had a complete change of heart overnight, and it works well. It keeps the series grounded in realism because there are a lot of issues that would never be fully resolved. And just like DareDevil, there were a few scenes I’d just roll my eyes and scream “Oh Danny, just sit down and shut up.” at the TV.

Regarding Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, I don’t have too much to say. I loved their characters in their own shows and The Defenders helped me fall in love with them all over again. Jessica Jones once again shines in The Defenders with her no-nonsense, tough as nails, P.I. self. While she is a bit iffy on the arrangements of The Defenders, she really shines when she jumps in to save lives and kick ass. On top of that, I enjoyed the banter with her calling everyone out on their bluffs and bullshit. She comments on how dumb DareDevil looks with that scarf on his head, and continuously mocks Iron Fist throughout the season.

Overall, I would say Luke Cage is one of my favorite characters and he really shines as a member of The Defenders. He was not only the strength of the team, but the moral compass as well. His involvement with The Defenders stems from him wanting to help a kid and not because he is forced into doing the greater good. He simply saw the right thing to do and wanted to do it. I think one of my favorite scenes from the season was when Luke Cage sat down with Iron Fist and taught him the biggest life lesson about privilege, and how Danny enjoys and benefits from it whether he realizes it or not. Now, I won’t venture too far down the SJW path, but Luke truly lays down some truth that is applicable to the show and to our day to day affairs.

While the show wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t I expected after several, critically acclaimed seasons developing each of these characters. It was definitely watchable, but left me feeling cheated that Marvel and Netflix could spend 5 seasons building such a dynamic bunch, only to fall short on the delivery. Despite the pros and cons above, there’s still a rollercoaster of emotions and action to keep you entertained and on your toes. The cliffhanger ending might be a cliche, but I’ll probably be back for more.