Buckle-up for a spoiler filled review.
Marvel Entertainment has set, what seems to be, an unrealistic bar when it comes to television and movies. It seems like, in today’s world, if the name “Marvel” isn’t written on a project, it tanks. Success has become synonymous with Marvel Entertainment. They have once again proven that with their newly released Netflix Original Series “The Defenders”.
The first 2 episodes of the show start off really really slow. The producers thought it necessary to waste 25% of the show telling you what has happened to our heroes since we last saw them. They show the fallout of Foggy Nelson and Matt Murdock, and Foggy has a haircut! They show Luke Cage and his release from prison and his highly not-anticipated love scene with Claire (he’s kind of a man-whore, having slept with 3 of the stars in the Defenders series). The only thing that really unique and interesting to the show is the development of Alexandra, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver. He failing body, and lack of resources to keep her immortality continuing, is the only saving grace for the first 2 episodes.
Episode 3 is where the show starts to get better. The Defenders have all met and are all starting to form that Avengers Team bond. They even have a fight scene at Midland Construction where they fight Alexandra and a lot of the hand goons, which included the beautiful Elektra Natchios. It is the end of episode 2 and episode 3 where the show gets good, and they don’t take their foot off the gas pedal until it comes to crashing end.
The story features many different story lines. One in particular is the story of Elektra, prophesied to be the Savior of the Hand, the one who will return the fallen back to K’un Lun. Alexandra makes, what the other fingers of the Hand view as reckless, the decision to use the last of their “Immortality Potion” to bring Elektra back to life. While Alexandra does not view this as a waste, it’s pretty clear that she’s the only finger of the Hand that sees it that way. Everyone else is worried, upset, and when one of fingers dies, the others all panic. Mortality has become a very real possibility for them. Alexandra’s pride is her inevitable downfall, when she is betrayed by Elektra.
This betrayal was one of the most surprising parts of the entire show. We all knew that Matt and Elektra were going to reconnect and fall back in love. We all knew that Danny Rand was going to be a problem and whine like a teenage kid, which is constantly referred to as during the show. The only part that was possibly more surprising than Elektra’s betrayal was Luke Cage. From the first episode, all the way until the end, he is not the unbeatable, tough guy that we all fell in love with from his show. He’s weak, almost to the point of being frail. And he goes on a “privileged” political rant in the middle of the show, something that was not expected and a bit of a letdown. Come on Luke, you’re better than that. You’re supposed to be the shining beacon for Harlem to look up to, not the one that points fingers and blames others for your problems.
Apart from the wasted 25% of the beginning of the show, there were 2 parts that I could have done without. The show did not need the Matt Murdock-Karen Page love story to develop any. That was a waste of time and something that I wish hadn’t happened. I didn’t agree with that part of DareDevil either though. The other part of the show that I could have lived without was Claire Temples role. She was more of a distraction and a hindrance to the shows progression. At one point, she goes on this rant about how she was trying not to get involved with people who have powers (a bold faced lie if ever there was one). She fails to do much more than just stitch up Misty Knight’s severed arm, and help stitch up Colleen’s stomach from a wound she received during a fight. An unimpactful(is that a word) role, I felt.
There were some parts of the show that definitely helped make up for some of the issues that the stand- alone shows featured. The primary being, Danny Rand uses his Iron Fist a lot more in this show. It seems like every time we saw him, his fist was glowing. And he didn’t spend half the show whining about his Chi, a definite win! While his acting still left a lot to be desired, it was way less distracting than his stand-alone series.
The other part I thought was awesome was the development and struggle that Elektra faced after being resurrected. With her memory erased, the show does a lot to show that love can overcome and transcend any obstacle (I’m a hopeless romantic, I know). She starts to remember bits and pieces of her past every time that she faces Matt Murdock. At one point, she even sneaks into his apartment and sleeps on her bed, where she spent some time recovering from a poison attack in DareDevil Season 2. They show the struggle of her self-discovery, which ultimately leads her to become the strong character that she is at the end of the show. She takes that self-discovery and uses it to her advantage. It is when this happens that her role really takes off in the show, and she becomes even more than the Elektra that we fell in love with in DareDevil season 2.
Jessica Jones humor keeps the show light, at all the right times. She also gets serious at all the right times, showing how dynamic of a character she really is. Her conversation about Matt Murdock’s dad is one of the best times conversations in the entire series, in my opinion. It shows just how connected the Defenders have become to one another. It also goes a long way to developing/strengthening the friendship/relationship that Matt and Jessica have. And yes, she probably is the last person to learn to Karate (watch the show if you don’t get the reference).
All-in- all, the Defenders met my unrealistic expectation of being highly entertaining, addicting, and over the top exciting. I feel that a good TV show will leave you wanting more, feeling upset that it just ended. The Defenders did just that. I was disappointed that it ended. I didn’t want to leave Marvel’s New York City, a place where unlikely superheroes save the day time and time again.
4 out of 5 Couch Cushions and a Throw Pillow (4.5)