The first thing I’ll say about Netflix’s Marvel’s The Defenders is that it avenges (ahem) the bad taste left behind by Iron Fist. As pertaining to the Danny Rand (Finn Jones) character, The Defenders doesn’t entirely right the wrongs of the past. Danny Rand still feels like a Batman/Bruce Wayne knock-off despite all the talk of his chi. That said, he’s far better to take when he’s not asked to shoulder the burden of an entire 13-episode series. Add the welcome return of Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, and you have a The Defenders that goes down smoothly and effectively. Plus, it’s only an 8-episode series. The compacted narratives work wonders.
The series opens with our four main protagonists – Mike Coulter also returns as Luke Cage – in their own storylines. Yet, their personal journeys quickly intermingle as series villain Alexandra (the great Sigourney Weaver) sets events into motion that threaten the stability of New York City itself. Naturally, the reluctant heroes don’t get along initially, but by the end of Episode 4, they appear to be well on their way toward a memorable partnership.
The main cast really delivers the material thanks to individual series of their own. It’s particularly great to see Krysten Ritter back as Jessica Jones given her note-perfect line delivery and incredible charisma. Everyone will be talking about the great Sigourney Weaver, though, as the mysterious villain Alexandra. That’s not a typo. She’s just Alexandra. Like an evil Madonna or Cher. In the episodes provided to critics, we gradually learn bits and pieces about her character, but there remain large swaths of detail likely saved for the end of the series. Rest assured, Weaver delivers a performance that is at her very best Weaverness.
Those turned off by Iron Fist will rejoice in The Defenders. It feels like very high quality fan service given the combination of the iconic comic characters. If you’re into that sort of thing, it’s even quite funny at times. That said, as much as I ultimately liked all of the characters, my favorite aspect of the series is its bold use of color. Each character has their own signature hue, and they’re employed throughout the individual scenes. Then, when the characters assemble, the creative team finds compelling ways to combine the colors into a consolidated whole. It’s a relatively throw-away aspect to the series that I personally loved. It makes The Defenders just a very fun comic book ride. If you like that sort of thing…