The Defenders has finally debuted on Netflix. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have finally become a team to face The Hand. They’ve come together to stop a nefarious plan that could bring New York crashing to its knees. Everything is at stake. We’ve had the chance to grow attached to each individual character across their own series and they’ve taken us on a violent journey to the grimier parts of the Marvel Universe, and it’s been an enjoyable ride… for the most part. But what about the really important parts about any live-action comic book adaptation? What about the references and easter eggs?
Don’t worry there’s plenty. There’s some incredibly obscure ones, some that are glaringly obvious and some that are just tantalizing for the future. Some of the events the team-up series has teased have the potential to bring a whole new dimension to some of the characters that we know and love. And after that finale, there are going to be some wild revelations to be had. Fair warning though — there will be spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t watched The Defenders, open up Netflix, and read this in eight hours. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
WARNING: AGAIN, MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE DEFENDERS AHEAD
15. HEROES FOR HIRE
During the series, Danny and Luke Cage slowly begin to warm to each other, and we really do mean slowly. Their first encounter isn’t exactly polite, but as they get to know one another, the bones of a friendship are definitely made. In the comics, the pair go on to fight as a team known as the “Heroes for Hire”. Think of them as the pleasant versions of Jessica Jones, superhero detectives that still have bills to pay.
The scene in the dojo where they talk through their differences and backstories definitely show that if they completely worked together, they could do some good in the city. They’re not quite there by the end of the series, but they’re not exactly far off either. Plus, the colors they wear during that scene are exactly the same as their comic counterparts… wink.
14. DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON
As we mentioned, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing end up fending off Bakuto together as the final fight for New York takes place. And with Simone Missick, the actress playing Misty, confirmed to appear in Iron Fist season 2, could we see a live action “Daughters of the Dragons” team up? After all, the villain who gave the pair the name, Davos (aka Steel Serpent), was introduced during Iron Fist season one, so the writers have left the opportunity wide open.
If Misty decides to quit her career in law enforcement, we could even see “Knightwing Restorations Inc.” become a way of legitimately helping New York instead of through acts of vigilantism. And since we assume Danny will be out at all hours defending the city in Daredevil’s place, the two characters are going to need their own separate arcs for season two.
13. THE BATTLE OF NEW YORK AND THE HULK
Since Daredevil season one, the Marvel Netflix shows have only referenced the MCU by a limited number of terms, “The Incident” being one of them. They’re referring to the events of The Avengers of course, aliens crashing down from the sky bringing death and destruction to New York. They also paved the way for villains to use the destruction as a way to benefit themselves.
Ben Urich was a journalist who covered various crime stories, and one of his most popular front page headlines covers the “Battle of NY”. Another sits besides it featuring the Hulk’s destructive fight against Abomination during The Incredible Hulk. They can be seen hanging in Karen’s office at The Daily Bulletin, since she took up an investigative reporter role there after Urich’s death and the closing of Nelson & Murdock. It’s a small reference to the wider universe that helps tie it all together.
12. MATT’S MOTHER
Daredevil season one hinted that Matthew’s mother was completely absent from their lives after Jack Murdock rang her (although we didn’t see her side of the conversation) to ask her to look after Matty when he was gone. But the final scene of The Defenders leads audiences into thinking that we might see her crop up in Daredevil season three.
Matt is in bad shape after being under Midland Circle when it collapsed, and he wakes up in a church with a nun next to him on his bed. She asks someone off screen to “Get Maggie, he’s waking up”. Maggie Murdock is Matt’s Mother, and she’s introduced during Frank Miller’s “Born Again”. Matt later confronts her about being his Mother during Kevin Smith’s “Guardian Devil”, and maybe we’ll see an amalgamation of the two stories in season three. It’s looking likely.
11. POP’S BARBERSHOP
The first season of Luke Cage saw the hero try to keep his head down and lead a normal life working in Pop’s Barbershop. But after he and Pop hide someone embroiled in Cottonmouth’s crime business, the barbershop comes under fire, literally. Sadly, Pop dies — but the barbershop continues as an inspiration for Luke — something to fight for.
In the first episode of The Defenders, Luke is finally released from jail. He takes the bus back to New York, and straight into Harlem. As he approaches his destination, the bus drives past Pop’s Barbershop. And although the show doesn’t need to explain the relevance of the shop’s appearance, fans who’ve seen Luke Cage automatically know what’s running through his head as he returns home. It brings his “forward, always” motto to the series without needing to forcibly remind us what he’s been through.
10. A NEW DAREDEVIL?
One big criticism (of many) when fans saw Iron Fist, was the lack of a traditional costume. Sure, we got to see a version of it in a black and white flashback, but we didn’t get to see Danny Rand don a green and yellow outfit. That’s all set to change in the future but it might not be the costume you’re thinking. After Matt told Danny to protect the city in his absence, Danny is last seen perching on a rooftop, clearly inspired by Matt’s sacrifice.
In the comics, Danny poses as Daredevil to convince the media that Matt and Daredevil aren’t one in the same. The jig is eventually up as the two clash and Danny unleashes his Iron Fist. Danny and Matt’s late connection seems to hint that Danny will soon be donning a costume, just not the classic green and yellow we’re used to.
9. ROOFTOP GARDEN
During Daredevil season one, we saw Kingpin and Madame Gao working together closely to fight the devil of Hell’s Kitchen and secure their heroin trade. One of their conversations took place on a beautiful rooftop garden that fans may have seen during the 2002 Spider-Man film from Sam Raimi.
The Defenders brings Madame Gao back to the same rooftop during the first episode of the season, as Alexandra gets ready to unleash her plan on New York. It uses interesting symmetry, since Madame Gao was somewhat in control of Wilson during that first scene, but here Alexandra is clearly the superior leader –a complete role reversal. The scenes were shot in the Rockefeller Center Roof Gardens in New York if you want to go re-enact some intimidating conversation scenes between your favorite villains.
8. COLLEEN WING
Colleen Wing’s involvement in Iron Fist season one was one of the most praised parts of the series (amongst a few criticisms), and whilst they hinted at her costume in her cage matches, she wears her signature white look throughout several episodes of The Defenders. What’s fantastic, is they don’t make a point of showing off her outfit as a “costume”, it’s just something Colleen wears. Probably because it allows for flexibility when fighting, and we know she does a lot of that.
Her iconic sword is carried with her at all times too, so we’ve pretty much got the comic book version of the character played out onscreen. All we need is another particular female character to go through her origin story and we might have a seriously slick partnership on our hands for Iron Fist season two.
7. NEW HARLEM RENAISSANCE
During Luke Cage’s solo series, one of the villains plaguing Harlem was Mariah Dillard — who was funding her new projects by working with crime boss, Cottonmouth. Remember we mentioned that Luke Cage rode the bus back to Harlem from Seagate prison? Well, on that bus is a poster for the “New Harlem Renaissance”, one of Mariah’s projects to rejuvenate Harlem.
The end of Luke Cage saw Mariah taking control of Cottonmouth’s criminal organization for herself — so it’s likely that her plans are far from over. Alfre Woodard is returning to the role, so Luke Cage will have to deal with the politician once more. The “New Harlem Renaissance” could be a way of money laundering or setting up permanent headquarters for Mariah. We’ll have to wait for season two to find out.
The Private Detective of the team, Jessica Jones, is the most reluctant out of the four to take up any superheroics (sorry, don’t mention the H word)., but she still winds up getting involved after she begins investigating the disappearance of a man. One of the companies seemingly involved in his disappearance bears the name Yoshioka, creating the moment where the solo shows are begin to collide.
Remember the ninja (called Nobu) that really gave Matt some grim wounds using a swinging knife across season one and two? Well his full name is Nobu Yoshioka. The business bearing his name have a hand (sorry) in Midland Circle. It’s one of the first hints we get that The Hand are heavily involved with The Defenders, but it also brings some connective tissue across the individual shows.
5. MR. BERKOWITZ
This is a deep cut, so stick with us. During Daredevil’s introductory scene in the first episode, we see Matt in court, representing a boy in a wheelchair. As the scene carries on and Matt questions someone on the stand, he refers to him as Mr. Berkowitz. Did you happen to catch the significance of that name?
We were violently introduced to The Punisher at the beginning of Daredevil season two. He proved so popular that he’s getting his own solo Netflix series, but back in 1989, we were given a different version of Frank Castle, starring Dolph Lundgren in The Punisher. One of the main characters, a cop, was called Jake Berkowitz. A coincidence? We think not. The writers are clearly having some fun with the audience and we’re not complaining.
4. MISTY KNIGHT
Again, we did warn you about spoilers. In the final fight against The Hand, Bakuto slices off Misty’s arm has she helps Colleen fight him. In the comics, she loses her arm in a bomb blast, and Tony Stark gives her a new bionic one. It’s not likely that Stark Industries will be making an appearance in Iron Fist season two, but Misty will be.
Since the team already has its own personal billionaire playboy (maybe not genius), perhaps Rand could foot the bill since he’s already paying for the hospital she’s housed in. It would be a fantastic way of bringing the character closer to her comic book counterpart, whilst also developing Misty further. Losing an arm is traumatic, but how will Misty cope not being able to do her job as normal? Perhaps that’s what pushes her into dishing out her own brand of justice.
3. MITCH ELLISON
Fans of Daredevil will know how Karen Page finds that her true calling doesn’t lie with Neslon & Murdock. During her personal investigation during the Frank Castle trial, she winds up working with Ben Urich’s boss Mitch Ellison over at the New York Bulletin. At the end of Daredevil season two, Karen ends up moving into Urich’s old office and becoming a fully-fledged journalist.
In The Defenders, episode seven saw the lights in the city get knocked out thanks to Danny’s fist. And Karen gets a call from Mitch checking up on her, making sure she’s okay. We don’t actually hear or see Mitch, but it’s a small nod to Karen’s new career and a potential link to The Punisher. We already know that she’ll appear alongside Frank Castle, perhaps Mitch might too if the pair are investigating something.
Spoilers, but Game of Thrones isn’t the only show with dragons right now. The only difference is, the dragons on The Defenders are already dead. Their bones make up the foundation of New York City, to be precise. But during a confrontation between Madame Gao and Danny, they discuss the bones that surround them and Danny’s origin as the Iron Fist.
Comic fans will know that Shou-Lao the Undying (there’s a clue there) is continuously reborn. It’s referenced by Madame Gao that the bones they’re standing in actually belonged to Shou-Lou, the mystical dragon that has been desecrated by The Hand so they can be resurrected should they die. And even though Danny had to also kill Shou-Lou, this kind of disrespect just doesn’t sit well with him.
1. THE STAN LEE CAMEO
Excelsior! Of course Stan the Man tops our list. He appears in most live action Marvel properties, and lends his voice to many animated series too. He’s previously appeared in a photograph spotted in each individual Marvel Netflix series in the background of scenes as a Police Officer. In The Defenders, that trend continues, but with a slightly larger photo this time. In fact, it’s more of a poster.
During the third episode when Matt is following Jessica (and vice versa) — a large poster of Stan can be spotted in the background. It’s a very similar photo to the one previously seen in the Netflix shows, and it’s been confirmed that his name is Captain Irving Forbush a character created by Lee himself. It wouldn’t be a live action Marvel project without his cameo, would it?
Did we miss any other easter eggs? Let us know in the comments!
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