I would’ve gotten to this a lot quicker than having finished it now, but I spent the last couple weeks marathoning “Star vs. The Forces of Evil”. Regardless, I knew going in that I was bound to like “The Defenders” solely based on my experiences with the other Netflix shows. I still consider the first season of “Daredevil” to be my bar for quality, but I found season 2 to be too cluttered. “Jessica Jones” had some pacing issues but was overall enjoyable, while “Luke Cage” had a strong first half before nosediving into a slightly disappointing second half. And, of course, “Iron Fist” is still my weakest choice of the bunch, even though I liked aspects of it. That all said, I was excited to see these four “heroes” come together for the first time and interact with each other. Did the show meet my expectations? Well, yes and no.
Plotwise, there’s not much I can talk about without getting into spoilers. Needless to say, Matt Murdoch, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Danny Rand, and many of their respective supporting characters meet and end up having to deal with the powerful adversary known as The Hand and its leaders. I’ve been pretty iffy about The Hand since their introduction in the second season of “Daredevil” and subsequent return in “Iron Fist.” As neat as the concept of mystical, nearly immortal ninjas are, I’ve found these shows tend to make them come off as uninteresting at times. Here, though, I really seeing the organization’s leaders come together and the head baddie, played expertly by Sigourney Weaver, was a bit of an enigma at first. I don’t think I can say she’s the best bad guy out of the Netflix MCU, but she wasn’t bad either.
Of course, the biggest draw of the show was seeing the inevitable team-up happen, and thankfully not one of them felt out of character to me. However, I did feel the eight episode restriction was both a help and a hindrance. It felt like more interactions could have taken place, and it may have also helped the plot feel a tad tighter (though the pacing was pretty good for the most part). I also felt that, since the showrunners here were also the ones who helmed “Daredevil,” that Matt and Elektra got a bit of preferential treatment. That’s not to say the others didn’t get to shine, but it clearly felt like they wanted to set up the next season of “Daredevil” in depth. Despite that, I liked what direction they took them in for the most part. I was very happy to see Jessica and Luke again, and their interactions with each other as well as Jessica’s with Matt and Luke’s with Danny were a joy to watch. I can’t wait for their shows to return to see what they get up to.
Speaking of Danny, though… Okay, I do feel he fared better here than in his own show, but it’s clear to me that Danny is still the weak link in terms of being interesting when compared to the other three. I can’t help comparing him to Oliver Queen from when I used to watch “Arrow,” and I feel bad because I do still like Danny’s rare moments of optimism. However, I adored his budding friendship with Luke and he actually gets some action scenes in this that show off his abilities well. I know I mentioned enjoying the drunken master fight in “Iron Fist,” but these fights were a lot more fast-paced (more on that later, though) and felt far more suited to his fighting style. The reoccurring set piece that is the hallway fight was a huge highlight of the season for me for this reason. I’m hopeful that the second season of “Iron Fist” takes some inspiration from this and ups the ante.
But now we come to the things I nitpicked or at the very least was disappointed by. While it didn’t bug me too much, they made the creative decision to have nearly every scene include colored lighting or some similar kind of aesthetic to match each character’s color scheme (red for Matt, blue for Jessica, yellow for Luke, and green for Danny). It was more distracting than anything. The action scenes, while mostly good, were sometimes edited in a way that made them hard to follow. One that took place at the beginning of the season and another towards the end come to mind. I also wasn’t sure how I felt about how Matt and Elektra ended up by the end of the season. With Matt, I could see his plan from a mile away, but Elektra was a bigger source of contention for me as she kinda takes the spotlight away from The Hand. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Elektra in “Daredevil,” so that did irk me. In regards to The Hand themselves, I felt like the final “battle” with them was a little anti-climatic. I’m hopeful we at least haven’t seen the last of the leaders, but time will tell if they pop up again. Finally, as much as I enjoyed the lack of filler thanks to the shorter season, I would’ve liked at least an episode that gave some of the supporting characters more to do. Foggy, Karen, Claire, Colleen, and Misty all get something to do, though more so Claire and Colleen, but poor Trish and Malcolm are sidelined through the majority of the season. I would’ve liked more interactions between all of them as well, if only for the potential conversations that could come from it.
Overall, while “The Defenders” didn’t quite reach the heights of that first “Daredevil” season for me, it was an entertaining watch. It was fun to see the four interact and they played off each other far better than I expected. I’m also glad the creators revealed more about The Hand’s operations, and for me this appearance actually got me to care even a little about what they were doing. However, after two shows featuring them this year, I’ll be more than happy to leave them behind for a while. And now that “The Defenders” is over, I’ll be looking forward to the new series with The Punisher that apparently comes out this year.