The Defenders - Marvel's second TV mis-step
As they say here in the US, in the interest of full disclosure, I really like Marvel's TV series Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. I did not like Iron Fist; more on that later.
In order to catch up with the DC universe on TV which enjoyed huge success with Smallville, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, Marvel launched their counter-assault in 2015 with the well-received DareDevil starring Charlie Cox. It was an unusual casting as Cox does not have the physicality that Ben Affleck brought to his version of the role in 2003. But it was clear from the start that Marvel intended to focus on character development, character interaction, relationships, motivation and good story-telling. The superhero was not perfect. He wrestled his own demons and doubts. It worked and DareDevil, with Cox was a hit. They repeated the formula later that same year with Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. It picked up Peabody and Emmy Awards. Knowing they were onto a good thing, Marvel gave us Luke Cage in 2016 with Mike Colter as the titular hero. The theme of reluctant superhero dealing with their past and wrestling with their demons was repeated and Colter won over legions of fans. It seemed that Marvel could do no wrong with TV versions of their superheroes.
Earlier this year, Marvel introduced us to Iron Fist, starring Finn Jones to less than stellar reviews. For this reviewer, it was a mess. Poor scripts, under-developed characters, unclear motivation and the weary trope of a billionaire turned vigilante combined to make this the weakest of the four series and their first mis-step.
This brings us to The Defenders, which sees all four heroes working together á la The Avengers to save New York from Sigourney Weaver. It's all over the place. The story, such as it is, follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist: a quartet of singular heroes with one common goal - to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize (sic) they just might be stronger when teamed together.
To this reviewer, it looked like they started filming without a finished script. The story took several sharp turns that left the viewer wondering what was going on. Cox, Ritter and Colter are the best thing in this. Their developed characters and obvious acting talent generated goodwill and a desire for The Defenders to be more than it turned out to be. Iron-Fist remains the weakest link.
One of the highlights was seeing the return of the excellent Elodie Young as Elektra.
Sigourney Weaver was the central villain and for the first time I cringed in every scene she was present. Her performance was poor and what was it with those outfits?
I went into The Defenders with a lot of goodwill for three of the main characters and actors. They were handed a poor script and terrible dialogue. Cox, Ritter and Colter have a screen chemistry that will make me want to revisit The Defenders for Season Two. For now though, Season One is for fans only and even then it should be approached with caution.