The Defenders Review: a superhero ensemble with slow pacing

The Defenders is the culmination of Netflix’s 4 prior shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist (Courtesy of Comic Book Resource)

Staff Writer

One of Marvel’s most anticipated television series, The Defenders, continues the trend of Marvel’s highly popular Netflix series. Featuring an ensemble of Marvel Comics characters, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, The Defenders provides the cinematic action-packed storyline of a superhero team and pushes forward the storyline of each individual main character. All four stars of the show, already featured in their own Netflix series, team up to defeat a common enemy. Although The Defenders does a tremendous job in building upon the personal identities of the four protagonists, it also lacks an upbeat pace and contains several flaws scattered along its storyline.

The Defenders successfully utilizes its four main protagonists to craft scenes that contain a solid balance between dialogue and action. Although, it loses the fast-paced characteristics of Marvel television shows. The series begins by establishing the emotional state of each character, each having undergone significant recent turmoil. Many consider this introductory episode to be excessively long, yet it plays a crucial role in interconnecting each hero in later episodes. Viewers who truly want to grasp the relationship between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist can appreciate the rather lengthy and sluggish build-up episode. The pacing after the first episode slightly improves; the four main protagonists, once completely unacquainted, encounter the underlying backstories of each other, prompting the arrival of the antagonists. The fight scenes are solid; in one particular moment, the four Defenders fight against a criminal organization of assassins, known as the Hand, at the headquarters of the Hand. Although we do not witness the groundbreaking solo stunt work evident in Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, the fight sequences do a decent job in collecting the four main characters together and partitioning enough screen time to each one.

The appeal of The Defenders is largely dependent on its villains: a collection of new faces and familiar foes. Alexandra, the leader of the discrete and powerful organization of the Hand, played by Sigourney Weaver, was one of the more intriguing antagonists of any Marvel series. Her quiet, aggressive and shrewd demeanor made for several memorable encounters with the Defenders. Unfortunately, she was unceremoniously killed early in the series, which contributed to a loss of storyline. Had Weaver’s character remained, the plot would have centered around her efforts to eliminate the Defenders. Rather, the plot shifted to the intentions of Elektra, the head assassin of the Hand, played by Elodie Yung, who also portrayed the character in Daredevil. Yung also had a tremendous performance, but unfortunately, the appeal of the plot significantly lessened after she took control. Without Alexandra, The Hand’s primary intentions are never revealed, taking away from the lengthy plot build-up in the previous episodes. In addition, while Yung’s character had several memorable action sequences, she did not perform with quite the villainous attitude that Weaver’s character did. Ultimately, the series, consisting of eight episodes, was too lengthy; many scenes were justified, such as the ones used to introduce the lives of the main heroes. However, this series could have been covered in five, possibly six, episodes. The storyline was frequently interrupted by lackadaisical conversations between the Defenders and the NYPD; it seemed that the focus of the protagonists was delayed by minutia.

Viewers who are not as familiar with the Marvel cinematic universe can enjoy the breadth of characters presented. For eager Marvel fans, and devotees of the previous Marvel Netflix series, The Defenders is an even better viewing and a great opportunity for Marvel to push the individual shows forward.