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Hands down, The Defenders movie is officially Marvel’s best Netflix show! The series instantly shows off its swagger and never lets up, making Iron Fist seem more like a hero in the 13-second opening than the standalone show managed in 13 episodes.
While the interesting crossover between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage can occasionally turn into a segmented set of mini-episodes early on, the amazing foursome eventually unites to form a show that is even greater than the sum of its parts. The street-level superheroes bring a fantastic eight-episode run with high stakes, a frenzied pace, not to mention effortless chemistry.
Unfortunately, things don’t start off that smoothly, though. The two opening episodes read almost a greatest hits collection of each hero’s point of view shows before the narrative eventually relents and shoehorns the plot in a comically convenient way for the four to come together. The complete lack of instant gratification can be grating, but this it easily relieved by the humorous interaction between fan’s favorites that leads to the team-up. Misty Knight and Jessica Jones’ brief appearance are worth the price of admission alone and there are few crossovers that we could say quite interesting you won’t see coming. Sure, Claire Temple, despite having deeper motivations this time, is a means to and end again, but when the result is this much fun, it’s also hard to look too unfavorably on Marvel’s use of periphery characters.
Without giving too much away, a catastrophe event is unleashed upon the city of New York and The Defenders, each following their own leads, bumps into each other’s paths in the same building. And then things get good, like real good. I’m not exaggerating but The Defenders trailer movie’s debut fight scene is Marvel’s absolute best. It tops Captain America The Winter Soldier‘s elevator fight scene and pounds Daredevil’s corridor scene into submission. I could describe it but, frankly, words couldn’t fully express the awesomeness. And, again, Iron Fist comes out of it looking incredible, which is no mean feat.
Without doubt, The Hand are the villains of the season and are led by Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver). Her performance is tempered by an unidentified terminal illness which rushes her character and drives her away from the realms of cartoonish MCU villain as she has an actual character arc rather than the bland go there, be evil trope of prior villains. The rest of The Hand don’t follow suit though, and they are in serious threat of becoming the go-to generic bad guys whenever one of The Defenders needs a physical baddy to fight. It doesn’t help that Alexandra literally sits down and explains the entire history and backstory of The Hand in avalanche of exposition at the midway point.
Admittedly, Elektra does give a more personal bent at the side of The Hand as her fighting abilities make her look like an absolute killer and everyone involved should be praised, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the show is at its weakest when it separates away from The Defenders movie. Hopefully, this would be the last time we see The Hand and their never-ending flow of martial artists because their appearance are worn out.
When the show does focus on The Defenders, the show is a rollercoaster of wisecracks, quips and how can we forget Jessica Jones’ side-eye. It’s gloriously exciting and feels like a much bigger event than The Avengers ever was. There’s a spine-tingling moment, end with an inspirational score bubbling up in the background, where our four heroes unite to fight against a foe at the midway point which ranks as an all-time greatest Marvel moments.
True, The Defenders is indeed short, but those thinking a mere eight episodes are not enough can have their fears put to rest. Coupled with Game of Thrones season 7’s clipped seven-episode run, it feels like we are reaching a watershed point in television where shows don’t have to stick to a long run anymore. Every second in The Defenders counts: every quiet character moment is sharp and fleshes out something or someone; every action sequence leads to something even bigger, better and more surprising; and every one-liner and on-the-nose dig at Iron Fist will make you burst out of laughter. Nothing outstays its line; the lessons have been learned from the wandering tempos of Iron Fist and Luke Cage.
Let’s check the cast of The Defenders movie:
If you’re hoping for a superhero scrap or two then (spoiler!!!) there are a couple of times the heroes actually face each other in combat. They are not throwaway extra scenes or jokey jousts either. Once the Once the tension rises in the final stretch of episodes, so too do the tempers of each of The Defenders.
Grab your popcorn and drinks because one fight in particular is a proper knockdown drag-out brawl that will make you beg for more. It also highlights just how confident Marvel is with this show to not lead, or even hint at, any conflict between the group of heroes in the promos leading up to its release. Make sure to watch it before it gets spoiled. Not mentioning the long list of breath-taking fights elsewhere between the good and the bad that are full of spectacular choreography and superb editing and keep the show rolling along in a constant pace.
When the fight finally ends and the final credits roll, you will have witnessed something that has a few clunky moments presenting the best-written version of each hero to date. Additionally, the show doesn’t exist in a vacuum: key, shocking events happen throughout and these guys (and one sassy girl!) develop considerably as people over the course of the series makes their inevitable returns a truly exciting prospect. Daredevil undergoes perhaps the biggest transformation, but each Defender has their own character beats to see them, as Luke Cage would say, move forward. Marvel’s facing the biggest issue that is having the unenviable task of following this remarkably exciting, entertaining effort. Again, THE DEFENDERS movie is a complete must-watch and the perfect jumping-on point for non-Marvel fans.