The Defenders (Season 1, Episode 1) mini review

This show has the unenviable task of bringing together superhero characters (of wildly varying interest levels from the fans and baggage) onto one team. This episode starts out with a bang with Danny Rand/Iron Fist and Colleen Wing fighting a mystery assassin and if you’re expecting intense action scenes throughout, the episode considerably slows to a crawl after that. The fighting is noticeably better than the unbearably bad fight scenes in Iron Fist. But in a recent interview I read with Finn Jones (who plays Iron Fist/Danny Rand), he mentioned that they beefed up the fight choreography team and it was a different one than the one that worked on Iron Fist. I’m also unsure of whether it seemed better just because the fighting took place in the darkness inside the sewers. Hopefully, all of Iron Fist’s fight scenes are considerably more impressive in this show. The episode takes time to build as we get re-introduced to the characters in “a day in the life” type of ways. Matt Murdock is back to work in his regular day job, seemingly being less neglectful and absent than he was in season 2 of Daredevil. Jessica Jones is still trying to deal with being labeled a hero, Luke Cage just leaves prison and has to deal with the ripple-effect repercussions of the villains from his show, and Iron Fist is still a brat. The show does a pretty good job of slowly easing the audience back into this world as we see pieces fall into place and guess how these heroes will potentially meet and come together. The supporting characters from all the past Marvel Netflix shows are also helpful in filling out a world and anticipating a forthcoming plot. It feels much less arbitrary than having the heroes randomly meet in a town square and putting their hands in like a little league baseball team and throwing them into the air together. It feels more organic and natural this way. So far, we barely understand Alexandra Reid’s motivation to attack the city but we do get a sense of her underlying power just simply in her demeanor and the way that she talks to her “business partners.” The end of the episode ends on a mysterious note as the city starts to crumble. From what we’ve seen, the showrunners have done a fairly good job at setting up the characters and starting to weave together and integrate people’s stories. I felt like Matt Murdock/Daredevil was still given the best dialogue (speaking to the disabled child, Aaron James, about finding the strength to fight and his conversation with the priest in the confession booth) as the other characters were still painted pretty plainly.

Random notes:

  • Major props to the showrunners for including Mos Def’s “Sunshine” and D’Angelo’s “The Line”
  • I still hate Danny Rand/Iron Fist. Keeping him to a minimum in this episode was a smart move.
  • I hope the writers give some more solid dialogue and emotional scenes to the rest of the characters and not just Matt Murdock/Daredevil
  • Cole: “It’s too late for heroes…” 
    Luke Cage: “Hero’s your word. Not mine.”
    * drop the mic moment *
  • I hope that Alexandra Reid is fleshed out well as in terms of character and identity and she doesn’t turn into yet another contrived IT WAS REALLY THIS VILLAIN BEHIND THIS VILLAIN BEHIND THIS VILLAIN WHO WAS PULLING THE STRINGS ALL ALONG type twist.
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