Marvel's "The Defenders": Non-spoiler Review
So, I have a confession to make: I haven't actually watched all of the Marvel Netflix shows. I know, I know. I'm the absolute worst. But for a person whose sensibilities align perfectly with CW shows made for teenagers, the darkness and intensity of the Marvel Netflix shows can be a little much for me.
Despite having only seen half of "Daredevil" season 1, three episodes of season 2 and two episodes of "Iron Fist" (just to see if it really was as bad as everyone said it was), I wasn't going to miss out on a superhero team up. I grew up on "Teen Titans" and "The Justice League", meaning multiple superheroes working together is kind of my jam. I'm such a sucker for deeply human interactions between heroes fighting side-by-side to save the world. It just gets me every time. So I brushed up on the rest of the Marvel Netflix series and counted down to the release of the eight-episode season of "The Defenders."
And I am thrilled that I did.
The first couple of episodes gently ease you into the New York City of "The Defenders" and the lives of its heroes, as the four of them circle each other ever closer, until they eventually collide in an extremely satisfying way. These four vigilantes, who each have very different philosophies, learning to work together to save the city they love was everything a superhero team up should be.
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and Mike Colter as Luke Cage were two of the standout performances, as was Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones. Then, there's THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST himself. Finn Jones as Danny Rand was one part grumpy cat one part goofball, but the characters surrounding him made him more human, and their reactions to his goofballery made him slightly more endearing. Was he the bad mamma jamma that I would imagine Iron Fist to be? Not entirely. But he wasn't a total wash either.
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple was one of the highlights of the show as she helped to unite these disparate heroes, and the physicality of Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing was a welcome addition to any fight scene.
In eight episodes, "The Defenders" was able to unite a team of four in an organic way, giving each of them time to shine, while still giving secondary characters room to grow and showcasing some interesting, three-dimensional villains.
There were moments I gasped (the end of episode 6, am I right), laughed and even cried, despite having no previous attachment to these characters. It actually felt as though this show had stakes, and that these characters were truly risking life and limb in each confrontation. In our nosey posey world of social media, drones sneaking pictures of sets and cinematic universes with films slated into the next century, it was refreshing not to know who was safe and who was at risk.
The decision to make an eight-episode season definitely paid off, as well, as a single, well-paced story arc took us through the season without any filler but also without feeling rushed. "The Defenders" is an outstanding culmination of five seasons-worth of Marvel Netflix shows, but it is also a series that can stand on its own, drawing in new viewers.
So, grab your snacks and cozy blanket, because the weekend has arrived and so has a show you won't want to miss. Happy binging, Marvel Netflix fans!