Netflix’s collaboration with Marvel started off great with the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil followed up by the debut of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Of course, these were but two of four upcoming Marvel heroes who would eventually join together in Marvel’s The Defenders. The third piece of the group — Marvel’s Luke Cage — wasn’t too bad (especially with the inclusion of Jessica Jones) but unfortunately Marvel’s Iron Fist — the fourth and last of The Defenders to debut — was met with mediocre reviews.
With Marvel’s The Defenders just around the corner, Netflix was kind enough to give us a sneak peek of the first four episodes of the eight episode (presumably) first season of the show. Read on for our spoiler free Marvel’s The Defenders review of the first half of the season.
So how do you bring four leading characters together effectively into a single shortened series? In the case of The Defenders, slowly. The first couple of episodes switch back and forth between each main character, catching up and continuing from where most of their solo series ended. To be honest, even though it’s necessary in order to plausibly bring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist together, it did feel a bit slow.
While Luke Cage and Jessica Jones already had a previous connection — with Cage appearing in Marvel’s Jessica Jones — the two, and the entire group for that matter, don’t meet up until the end of the third episode. Still, the first couple episodes did a decent job of playing catch up with each of the four main characters and filling in the gaps from where their individual series currently sit. Once they do meet up, their interactions are what one would pretty much expect given the different personalities as well as where each currently is in their respective journeys or struggles accepting or using their abilities.
Charlie Cox, who plays Matt Murdock a.k.a. The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen a.k.a. Daredevil, and Krysten Ritter, who plays Jessica Jones, tend to stand out a bit more in the performance department with Mike Colter as Luke Cage a close third. Both Cox and Ritter continue to perform fantastically in their respective roles. To be honest, I’ve yet to watch Marvel’s Iron Fist but Finn Jones as Danny Rand a.k.a. The Immortal Iron Fist is definitely the weak link of the four. In fact, I found some of the supporting cast — including some returning characters from the other series that have aired to date — to be more believable and less… annoying? than Finn Jones. I’ll eventually watch Iron Fist, but after seeing him in The Defenders I still have no burning desire to catch up on that one.
Of course, the first couple episodes also introduce Sigourney Weaver’s character as the main antagonist of the series. Given the build up of her character and the organization she’s involved with, Weaver is definitely headed towards the top of the list as one of the better adversaries in Netflix’s Marvel series to date. Given some of the events and the organization she works with, it’s a bit surprising that she didn’t show up sooner in either Daredevil or perhaps Iron Fist.
Overall, after a slow first couple of episodes, Marvel’s The Defenders is shaping up to have a strong finish. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until August 18th to find out how it continues over the latter half of the season. At that time, we’ll also see if Netflix’s choice to make the series an eight-episode affair instead of the twelve episodes of the previous installments in the series pays off.