Uneasy alliance in uneven ‘Defenders’
Marvel’s street-level heroes band together in “The Defenders,” the culmination of four gritty Netflix superhero shows. It’s not unlike the “Avengers” film, where several disparate characters eventually form a cohesive whole—only, the Defenders are less-flashy and less-organized.
But, while the team-up is inevitable, it’s also a forced one, keeping the show from becoming a truly satisfying venture.
The Defenders aren’t a formal gathering of superheroes, sticking together mainly out of necessity. But, unlike the comic books, this roster is entirely new, starring the titular heroes of the said shows: Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones).
Mysterious Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) reveals herself in due time to Iron Fist—she has grand plans for him, and has revived the slain assassin, Elektra (Elodie Young), Daredevil’s ninja lover.
Through separate investigations that coincidentally lead to their timely rescue of Iron Fist, the Defenders form an uneasy alliance and discover just how relentless their foes are.
The 8-episode series takes time to unravel; it isn’t until the third episode that it finally speeds up with the formation of the team. But, the brisk action sequences are worth the wait.
The banter is nice—it’s especially engaging to have such strong personalities at odds with each other, who force themselves to work together against a common enemy.
Weaver’s Alexandra has just enough backstory to keep her intriguing, with very human motivations and frailties. A pity, though, that she’s not in the entire series.
The show brings back supporting characters from the heroes’ respective shows.
The series itself, though, is problematic from time to time. It’s hard to root for Iron Fist, who keeps reciting his mission in life.
Expectedly, Jessica Jones, as the lone heroine, consistently stands out as the grumpy but selfless fighter. The same cannot be said about Daredevil, who succumbs to peer pressure and reveals his secret identity yet again.
As for Cage, he has limited screen time and is given little to do. But, establishing the start of his less-than-smooth partnership with Iron Fist, a nod to the comics, is nicely done, at least.
The show could’ve been more, instead of just a convenient place to tie up accumulated loose ends from the previous series. Don’t expect a team-up with the other denizens of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, either—as wonderful as that thought may be, the film and series’ worlds won’t be colliding in a fan-pleasing crossover any time soon, according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
“The Defenders” has great potential, but it isn’t completely realized in its short first season. There’s a disappointing unevenness to it and a simplicity to the story, keeping it from highlighting its gritty urban heroes.
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