Review – The Defenders (Netflix) Season One
As someone who is an avid fan of each of the Defenders’ individual series (yes, even Iron Fist), I was understandably hyped for The Defenders. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t be eager for mismatched superheroes joining forces right?
We get to see Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Kristen Ritter), Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) coming together to defend New York against an ancient criminal organization known as the Hand, bringing with them a delightful melee of action and destruction as well as a deeper exploration into each character’s backstory.
The series picks up from where each character left off in their respective series, with fight scenes helpfully scattered through the first two episodes to remind us what each hero brings to the table.
While the Defender’s abilities are a far cry from their more distinguished counterparts, the Avengers, the fisticuffs are still immensely enjoyable, perhaps even more so. While the Avengers are slick, polished and possess cosmic powers and magical hammers, Netflix’s new heroes represent the ordinary man, and fight against the injustices that go on in New York’s myriad alleyways instead of scary space invaders.
These heroes are human through and through, and the show isn’t afraid to make them vulnerable.
Each character is also associated with a specific colour palette, and their scenes tend to incorporate certain elements of that colour into the background, lending a distinctive visual style to the entire series.
Matt Murdock aka Daredevil is still grieving from the loss of the woman he loved, Elektra. Little does he know, the Hand has brought back to life a shell of who she once was, making the incoming rivalry an exciting one. Jessica Jones is handed a seemingly innocuous missing persons case that turns out to be far more insidious, setting her on a collision course with the Hand and Daredevil himself.
Luke Cage gets out of jail, but his honest to goodness personality brings him to investigate the trouble brewing in Harlem. That’s where he bumps into Danny Rand, the “immortal Iron Fist” still hell-bent on revenge against the Hand for the death of his parents. Rand is still a “thundering dumbass”, and his superficial rich-kid vibe provokes even the ire of the ever-pragmatic Luke in the beginning.
The season hiatus has done nothing to scrub the Iron Fist of his exasperating naivete and ignorance of how the world works, and the character remains encumbered by a burdensome sense of righteousness that lacks the charm of Daredevil.
We are also introduced to the lead antagonist of the story, Alexandra. An enigma wrapped in an impenetrable veneer of elegance and poise, Sigourney Weaver dominates in the role of the villain, and she even has the nefarious smile down pat. She is represented by a new colour – white – and her very presence seems to make each scene more striking compared to the Defenders’ more melancholic tone.
Despite not being as theatrical as Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth or as maniacal as David Tennant’s Kilgrave, she still exudes power and commands attention in her quest for world domination.
Meanwhile, Stick (Scott Glenn) makes a dramatic albeit bloody entrance, and all signs point to him being a central character for the team to rally around, taking on the role of a mentor or peacemaker of sorts.
There’s a sense of inevitability in the first few episodes. The series starts off slow, but builds quickly toward shared scenes between the heroes, peppered with obligatory bickering and reticence.
For those who tuned in to watch a team of kickass superpowered beings, you’ll probably find yourself wishing you could skip over the introductions as everyone gets acquainted.
Each character has their own reasons for not wanting to team up. For Jessica, the Hand has never been her fight and Luke just wants to stay on the straight and narrow path after his prison stint. Matt, who has given up his superhero life, is hesitant but aching to jump back. Danny is the only one who truly wants the team to come together, at one point admitting, “I tried being a one-man army and I failed.”.
The show steps up to the daunting ask of incorporating all the lead characters together but not sacrificing what make them unique; quite a feat considering the number of things that could have gone wrong, and I’m happy to say The Defenders has truly achieved that.
The narrative is enthralling and written with masterful finesse, smoothly converging five different plot lines through the first couple of episodes without leaving the audience confused.
It can feel a little hurried, but the writing also does a good enough job in finding believable ways to have Luke and Jessica become personally invested in the fight against the Hand, considering that their initial backstories didn’t quite involve the organisation.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of The Defenders is the banter – witty, sharp, and humorous. The Defenders doesn’t feel like each character is just starring in each other’s stories, instead we can feel the four shows merging together, visually and audibly.
While it is not a pre-requisite to watch each character’s individual TV series before delving into The Defenders, it does provide much insight into each character and is recommended. That said, the first few episodes of The Defenders do attempt to bring the audience up to speed, incorporating exposition-heavy sequences.
The Defenders has the makings of an excellent TV series, with all synergy and elements thrown in. It’s no arthouse flick, but it’s shaping up to be an entertaining mix of action and personal growth on the part of the main cast.
The Defenders (Netflix) was viewed on the LG OLED C7 Television.
Key Features –
Cinematic Color on Perfect Black | Active HDR with Dolby Vision™ | Dolby Atmos® | webOS 3.5 Smart TV
Find out more about LG’s 2017 OLED 4K TVs.