No, wait… that’s not right. The Defenders has as much to live up to as The Avengers did in the cinematic world, but it’s nothing like it big screen cousin in a lot of great ways.
The best thing The Defenders has going for it is that it carries over all of the gritty, real violence of Daredevil and none of the campy kung fu fighting of Iron Fist. The fight scenes are gory and the stakes here feel mostly real…
There’s just kind of an inherent flaw with comic book adaptations that I was hoping The Defenders would correct by raising the stakes a bit, but I can’t say the show ever made me feel like it was going to pull the trigger on any of the threats it made that would be irreversible in the Marvel Universe. The stakes for the villains and side characters, however, were maxed out thanks to the mature rating and that helped keep the story interesting enough.
With only eight episodes to the season, The Defenders is incredibly easy to binge watch, as Netflix audiences are finding out in possible record setting number. If you’re here for cool chemistry between the main characters and a lean, easily digestible story that breezes from one well choreographed fight scene after another, then The Defenders delivers in spades. Unfortunately where it falters a bit is with its pretty basic story, which delves pretty far into comic book cheese at times to keep from wrapping up too quickly.
Couple quick examples; the team has a chat in a restaurant with the season’s main villain and don’t even try to capture or kill her; and Iron Fist at one point says that he knows what the bad guys want from him and he won’t do it, minutes before he is easily duped into doing that thing.
Despite these occasional dips in story quality that prevent The Defenders from reaching its truly great potential, it does succeed in a lot of ways, most important being that its just really entertaining and watchable throughout.
The big thing here is that the main Defenders crew is a blast to watch together whether they’re fighting or bantering. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil are all played perfectly by their respective actors, who return virtually effortless performances reminiscent of their critically acclaimed solo outings. Even Iron Fist is pretty much redeemed here after his universally panned solo attempt earlier this year. The Defenders gives him a great new purpose and hints at his inevitable team up with Luke. And Sigourney Weaver’s long hoped for debut in the Marvel Universe is every bit as great as you’d expect from the screen legend, despite her character being written as a pretty basic villainess.
With a trim, fight focused story and a short, bingeable eight episode run, The Defenders is a very entertaining show. Its basic and occasionally campy story does prevent it from rising to its full potential, but I don’t think anyone is looking for an Emmy winner here, so I don’t see that hurting its success. The Defenders seems set to do exactly what it set out to do; secure the Marvel Netflix partnership for the foreseeable future.
Updated list of Marvel/Netflix favourites:
7. Iron Fist
6. Second half of Luke Cage S1
5. Jessica Jones
4. First half of Luke Cage S1
3. The Defenders
2. Daredevil S1
1. Daredevil S2
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