Does “The Defenders” Hold Up to the Rest of Marvel Netflix?

After two years of steady buildup, Marvel’s The Defenders made its Netflix premiere this past weekend. This mature superhero series sees the likes of Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) team up to save New York City from a recurring criminal organization known as the Hand.

How does it stack up compared to the rest of the shows so far? Check out my rankings below:

6) Iron Fist, Season 1

Let’s get one thing clear: Iron Fist is garbage. Ass. Booty cheeks. A boring plot and lead actor, terrible dialogue, and YouTube-level fight choreography, this series felt like a complete train wreck until maybe episode eleven (out of thirteen). I actually finished Defenders before this; I didn’t really care about it. The one diamond in the rough, though, was Colleen Wing’s (Jessica Henwick) character arc.

5) Luke Cage, Season 1

After co-starring in Jessica Jones, Mike Colter’s Luke Cage got a series of his own! Taking place in Harlem, this show was dripping with Black culture, from basketball and Obama references to cameos from Jidenna and Method Man. Similar to Daredevil’s second season, however, the first half is much better than the second; this is due to Mahershala Ali’s portrayal of Cottonmouth. Still, the series had a great cast, a lot of heart, and a willingness for Aaron McGruder-esque social commentary.

4) Daredevil, Season 2

After rescuing the city from the likes of Wilson Fisk and his crime syndicate, a power vacuum erupts in Hell’s Kitchen’s underworld. This draws the attention of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), who will stop at nothing to punish the city’s criminal scum. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock is reunited with Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) as she investigates the Hand’s activities in New York. Bernthal’s Punisher steals the show this season, and rightfully so: it was largely a backdoor pilot for his recently announced solo series, as well as The Defenders.

3) The Defenders, Season 1

After the success of 2012’s The Avengers, Marvel decided to repeat the formula for some of their street-level heroes on Netflix. This eight-episode miniseries manages to carefully balance the leads of all four previous series, naturally weaving their stories together in the process. What’s more: Iron Fist was a much more likable character than in his own show! (It’s also fun to see everyone make fun of him.) The actors have great chemistry together, the action is top notch, and the characters still feel like themselves.

2) Daredevil, Season 1

After the failed Ben Affleck film, Marvel realized they would need a fresh start to make people like Daredevil again. So, they went the only way they could: they made it gritty as hell. Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock is portrayed as a troubled Catholic struggling to do the right thing. While he was a lawyer in the daytime, he spent his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his fists. No matter how battered and bruised he might be, he refused to give up. Vincent D’Onofrio plays a very interesting Kingpin in this revamped tale of the Man Without Fear.

1) Jessica Jones, Season 1

What made Jessica Jones such a great series was that, at its core, it wasn’t a traditional superhero narrative. Its style was more film noir, more investigative than action-packed, as Jones took viewers on a thirteen-hour character study of an alcoholic, super-powered woman with PTSD from the manipulative, mind-controlling Kilgrave (David Tennant). Smart, sexy, and thought-provoking, Jessica Jones’s uniqueness kept things fresh for both fans and newcomers alike.


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