Rating 1/5 – Let’s get this out of the way first. The Defenders kinda sucked. There was one good moment for every four episodes with one actual good fight scene. While it was kind of nice to see the Marvel Netflix heroes together, the mistakes made in The Defenders are glaring and too many to dismiss as nitpicking. Everything about the show was wrong-headed, short-sighted, and muddled. Where it should have overreached it decided to under reached. The concentration on Iron Fist’s story was a really bad idea and the villains were awful. Think about that. In a world where Sigourney Weaver is cast as the big bad all the villains, including, the big bad sucked. Most of the acting wasn’t bad yet that couldn’t save it. The writing, directing and editing were all just bad. Defenders was a huge mess that started with Iron Fist and ended with what we ended up with here. This show is not up to par with what we got with Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage.
The Immortal Iron Fist
We comic book geeks love to give non-comic readers references. Despite the truth that comics still have a bit of a “for 12-year-old-boys” stigma, some really good stories have come out of the genre that you can actually enjoy as much as a good book or movie. Iron Fist was always one of that character met with a resounding “Meh.” He’s been a part of the Marvel Universe since his introduction but he was never one of those heroes you ever looked forward to. Marvel constantly tries to give these third their characters their own series, or make them part of a new group. Iron Fist has really never worked in his own comic until 2006 when Ed Brubaker and Matt Faction came up with The Immortal Iron fist. It was a bit of Marvel Universe meets Shaw Brothers and they built an incredible mythology over the convoluted mythology of Iron Fist. The comic series was fast paced, well written, had the perfect art for the story it was telling and elevated Iron First for 15 whole minutes.
I’ve already been through the problems with Iron Fist here and every single one of those problems was dragged into The Defenders. The only kicking and screaming were done by anyone trying to get through all eight episodes.
The Defenders Should Have Been a Smaller Story
Crime can be big or can be small. You can have the Godfather and at the same time, you can have Baby Driver. Everything does not have to be world-shaking events, or “destroy the city” stories like every season of Arrow. Sometimes you can have good old “catch the criminals” stories. I believe this is what made Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage work. They focus on street crimes and their effects on regular people. For some reason, the Defenders tried to turn the teams into world savers. They tried to make the Hand bigger than it should have been without actually taking the time to define the hand’s actual goals. First, they wanted to destroy the city. Why? Couldn’t tell you. Then they wanted to get the Iron Fist magical place because they were losing their mortality and needed to get it back. That’s not bad. Maybe opening a portal to the magic place would destroy the city. Okay, it’s a smaller story and the goal is clear. Then they tried to do something shocking and suddenly the goals changed to “get Iron Fist to punch a wall.” Why? To get to the magical city? Well if that’s all you needed, why are you trying to destroy New York? Oh and wasn’t the magic place destroyed at the end of Iron Fist? Just saying. . .
Like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage the Defenders needed to be a smaller story. The Defenders did not need spectacle. The Hand isn’t a major villain in the comics, they are always the background players the heroes get to punch while dealing with the bigger threat. They are canon fodder or someting to punch, not the main enemy. And no matter how many ninja tricks you know you’re not going to effective with a girl who can throw a car and an indestructible guy who can toss the car back.
The Defenders Good Moments Didn’t Save It
Good moments can save an otherwise really bad movie or TV episode. Sometimes good moments don’t do a damn thing. The Defenders suffers from the latter. The interactions between the main characters were great, but great in a pile of shit. The real problem was they tried to imitate the Avengers. Avengers was all about “how will these characters interact with each other?” We who were looking forward to and watching the Defenders were not asking that question. The only question we wanted to be answered was “will these four heroes kicks much ass.” The best blueprint for this is the Banshee or Into the Badlands. Banshee was a B-Action-Movie that didn’t give a shit. Pretty much every episode features over the top action sequences. These sequences were mostly fights built up to and earned by the overall story. Into the Badlands is so Shaw Brothers meets dystopian future. They find an excuse to make everyone a kung-fu badass and why everyone has to learn to fight and why everyone is a kung-fu badass is built into the story’s rules and backstory. We want the Avengers to have quirky conversation and clash of personalities. We want Luke, Jessica, Matt and even Danny to hit the streets and kick as much ass as possible. We want Punisher and Kingpin to get in their way, hire super muscle to handle the street hero problem, push the group to their limits and see them clean up the streets. The Defenders do not need to find Hydra or Galactus. The series seemed to think they had to do something big as life. Watch Breaking Bad, Marvel/Netflix. They did not need to go Rambo and have Cranston fighting off an army of Mexican drug lords holding two big ass guns standing shirtless on a hill of bodies. The big moments came from within the story and the characters.
It’s Not That Hard
How the fuck does the same creators who fixed the Punisher screw up the Avengers. The Punisher is one of those characters who should have been easy to do yet four movies got him completely wrong. To give some credit to Punisher War Journal, it came close but swam in the skidmark of the other three movies. Punisher is a guy with a gun who kills criminals. He’s absolutely a psychopath, but you can emphasize with his mission. The Defenders is exactly the same. Four street level heroes handle street level shit. How hard can this possibly be? They could have introduced a slew of Marvel lesser know villains. This would have been a great place to introduce Bullseye. But no, we have to have city destruction brought down to “need guy to punch a wall.” We had a great actress playing potentially a great villain but the creators of the show had to get in touch with their inner “what a twist” and screw up everything. They had three popular characters everyone wanted to see more of and they focused on the fourth guy every single person on the planet said they hated. If the creators of The Defenders were a single person we’d be justified for shoving him up against and smacking him repeatedly while asking “what the fuck was you thinking?”