Marvel's The Defenders Review: A Fun, But Flawed Superhero Extravaganza

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The Defenders is about to be released on Netflix, and we were lucky enough to screen the first four episodes.

The series finds Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist joining forces to take down a villain played by iconic actress Sigourney Weaver. 

Superheroes Who Lunch

That piece of casting alone was enough to ramp up the intrigue for the show. Paired with the other powerhouses from the previous series in the franchise, Weaver fits in very well. 

While the heroes team up eventually, it takes its sweet time for the four of them to even cross paths. 

For those who have watched the other series in the franchise, they will probably think there is too much set-up getting the characters to the point of teaming up. 

This has a negative effect on the pace, and the series struggles to stay interesting through all of the setup. There is just too much exposition, and the series would benefit from cutting to the chase quicker. 

Danny Rand's series, Iron Fist, struggled with the terrible pacing and downright dreadful writing. Unfortunately, this new series does little to make the character more likable. 

Super Team Up!

Finn Jones was a delight on Game of Thrones, but Danny's story is just not that exciting. He knows a lot about the villains as he has been doing some investigating of his own, so the hope is that he can surprise us in the back half of the season. 

Jessica Jones continues to be a delight, and it's interesting that she is still trying to move on from everything that went down with Kilgrave. 

Considering the emotional torment David Tennant's twisted character put her through, it would have been a little too easy if she managed to move on and continue her investigations straight away. 

With that said, next door neighbor, Malcolm, is the polar opposite of Jessica. He's turned his life around and looks healthier than ever. While Jessica has struggled to move on, Malcolm has flourished. 

It's an interesting juxtaposition seeing Malcolm look out for Jessica this time around. Like I said before, Jessica has been through a lot, so moving on from that is going to be tough. 

Despite her cold exterior, she took care of Malcolm throughout the bulk of Jessica Jones Season 1 and even played a part in getting him off drugs. 

With the bad guys going after everyone the heroes love, it's clear they are going to need to work together to save New York City as well as their loved ones.

It's a tough task, but they manage to become a unit by the end of The Defenders Season 1 Episode 4, and that's essentially the big jumping off point for the story. 

If you thought there would be a string of awkward scenes between Jessica and Luke Cage, there really isn't. The awkward scenes come from Jessica and Matt (Daredevil). 

Thanks to some meddling from Jeri Hogarth, the pair cross paths and play off each other well. Matt wants to conceal his identity and even steals Jessica's scarf to cover his face. 

Yes, the humor is very much present in this series, and that's a good thing when you consider how dire the subject matter is. 

The one-liners that come off the back of the scarf scene are just gold, and it helps Jessica and Matt form a bond.

Luke is just out of prison and done hiding his superhero status. He's the big celebrity of Harlem, but that's not to say he wants to be known.

Everyone is scared of him now because, well, he could send them flying into oblivion. Most of Luke's scenes are with Danny, and despite Danny's storyline sucking, the pair has some great moments together. 

It would have made much more sense to have the two characters meet up on Iron Fist for the first time. It would cut a lot of the fat and made the story on The Defenders leaner. 

Alexandria Has a Plan

Sigourney Weaver turns in a solid performance as the villain, but not enough was given away in the episodes screened to come to a decent conclusion about her character. 

She fits the bill of a Marvel villain, but it's difficult to assess whether she's really the villain the trailers portrayed her to be. Without spoiling too much, she is linked to another villain from the franchise. Fans of the comics are in for a real treat with her storyline. 

As has been the case with the Netflix Marvel TV Universe, the fight scenes are a high point, and I found myself egging on Elektra a lot of the time. The characterization was excellent. 

She is one super powered human against four, yet she always seems to have the upper hand. Tying her story to Daredevil was a great move because it threw in some much-needed conflict for the masked crusader as he struggled to come to terms with hanging up his costume and stepping away from his Daredevil persona. 

Elektra Is Back

Of course, It is a tired old trope to use a loved one to create drama, but it's obviously integral to the larger arc of the series. 

Despite the flaws, the series is still to fun watch and improves with each episode, so there's no reason why the final four will not continue that trend. 

However, as enjoyable as it is to have these characters meet, four episodes is a bit long to affirm their status as a team. 

Obviously, it will be easier bringing them together in the future now that they've all shared time together, but a feature length episode should suffice as opposed to a full-fledged series. 

Given that we've waited so long for The Defenders, first impressions are that while it's solid, it takes too long to get to the good stuff.

The side stories were interesting, but they meant more time without the core four fighting the forces of evil. 

With the exposition out of the way, the final episodes should find the series flourishing and be the true test of the power of The Defenders.

The Defenders Season 1 debuts August 18 on Netflix!


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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