Now that the release date for “The Defenders” has been revealed, recently dropping in viral marketing clip, fans are suitably hyped for the show’s big debut. The series is reportedly set to premiere on August 18, boasting an eight-episode run.
The group will include Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand, as they team up to try and put a stop to some as-yet-unknown threat in New York (although we have a few ideas of what or who it might be). The excitement is high and there’s plenty we at CBR want to see in this much anticipated small-screen uniting of heroes. So, we decided to detail a few things we hope the show has in its relatively short run.
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ALL MARVEL NETFLIX SHOWS.
15. BASE OF OPERATIONS
So far throughout their respective series, each Marvel Netflix hero has mostly operated out of their own home. Matt’s apartment doubles as his Daredevil safe haven, Luke Cage does everything out of a defunct barbershop that he lived in and Jessica Jones’ private eye office doubled as her residence. The only exception is perhaps Danny Rand, who often used Colleen Wing’s Chikara Dojo as his home base.
The point is, it’s highly likely that most characters won’t be terribly likely to run all over New York to visit each other’s humble abodes. They need a meeting spot that is easily accessible and above all, neutral ground for everyone (as they will probably be very wary of each other at first before getting to know one another). Whether it be a Rand warehouse or maybe a new bar that Luke is running, a base of operations of some sort seems necessary for the group.
14. FREEING LUKE CAGE
In “Luke Cage,” the titular character has consistently tried to keep a low profile due to his criminal status. After being experimented on at Seagate prison, Carl Lucas fled during a fire and took on his assumed name. He managed to stay under the radar until his conflicts with Cottonmouth and Diamondback brought his old record (and identity) to light. The season ended with Luke Cage surrendering willingly to police and ready to fight for his innocence.
Since then, “Iron Fist” referenced that Luke is still in jail and is corresponding with Claire Temple via love letters. Temple herself promised she would contact “a really great lawyer” she knew in town to help with his case. Luke Cage certainly can’t do much from behind bars, much less be part of a team. It’s more than likely that audiences will be treated to the hero being exonerated from prison and earning his freedom once and for all in “The Defenders” early on.
13. MORE SUPPORT CAMEOS
Every Marvel Netflix hero so far has boasted their own cadre of support characters during their respective shows. Murdock has Foggy and Karen, Jones has Malcolm and Trish, Luke had Misty Knight, and Danny relied on Colleen Wing. Dotted throughout the series have been a few “crossovers” of sorts with consistent characters, such as Claire Temple and Jeri Hogarth.
These cameos have been mostly useful in their incorporation so far, but seriously need to step up in “The Defenders.” While the inclusion of Claire is pretty much guaranteed at this point (her role has consistently grown with each show), it’s important to retain these support characters through a big series like this. These roles have played important parts to each hero’s journey and it would be a complete waste if they were simply swept under the rug once the four come together. Having folks like Misty, Malcolm, Karen or even Bobby Fish appear would help round out this universe that all the Defenders are living in, and further the importance of why they want to protect their city.
12. CLAIRE FINALLY BECOMING A HERO
Throughout all four series, Claire Temple has evolved from an overworked trauma nurse who didn’t ask too many questions, to a ninja-fighting medic who began to realize her own new path in life. Her budding romance with Luke Cage and continuous run-ins with dangerous people has only furthered her endeavor in becoming a stronger person among all these emerging super-powered people.
For awhile, it seemed like Claire would be relegated to the Night Nurse role and simply patch up the heroes every few episodes. However, her character has grown a lot in questioning authority and understanding folks with powers. Hopefully, in “The Defenders,” Claire will finally embrace her newfound role of fighting alongside, as well as treating these New York heroes. Whether she officially dons the title of Night Nurse (like so many fans have been speculating), or becomes something new entirely, it’s high time Temple becomes a fully-fledged hero instead of a safety net every time the heroes get a scrape or two.
11. GAO BEING AN ACTUAL THREAT
Way back in the early days of “Daredevil’s” first season, Madame Gao was revealed as a key player in the New York heroin drug trade. She was a mysterious figure who inspired fear in anyone, including Wilson Fisk (albeit before he truly jumped into his Kingpin role). Since then, Gao was more prominently featured in “Iron Fist,” but her role wasn’t nearly as foreboding. Instead, she was easily apprehended by Danny Rand and kept captive for most of the season before sinisterly returning to her evil machinations.
It’s high time that Gao actually becomes the threat that multiple Netflix series have been painting her as being. For a character that boasts so much knowledge and apparently deadly skill, she hasn’t done much since her debut to bolster that reputation. Gao needs to emerge in full force to take back what the heroes have stripped from her. With her vast knowledge, boundless resources and despicable nature, Madame Gao can truly pose an imposing threat to the Defenders if given the opportunity. Perhaps she will even look to team up with another villain to accomplish this.
10. HERO ASSISTANCE
So far, each hero has operated in their own little bubbles of New York. Daredevil is the keeper of Hell’s Kitchen, while Luke Cage is the hero of Harlem. Jones also operated in Hell’s Kitchen (crossing paths with Cage a couple times), and Danny works out of a combination of Chinatown and the financial district. All of them are living life post-Chitauri invasion, and have heard tell of other extraordinary beings, but have yet to really cross paths with one another.
Despite living on Netflix, these shows are still indeed connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re aware of the existence of Iron Man, Captain America or “the green guy,” but have still remained at arm’s length from all of it (including each other). Yes, the Defenders will come together in their own way, but this would be a ripe opportunity to show their connections to their big-screen counterparts. It could be as simple as seeing Iron Man in flight to help or Spider-Man web-slinging downtown, but it would do great justice in showing that even the “smaller” Marvel characters play a role in the overarching cinematic universe.
9. LUKE AND DANNY’S FRIENDSHIP
In both of their respective shows, Luke Cage and Danny Rand are rather short on friends. Luke loses his mentor Pops to a drive-by shooting and relies on Bobby Fish as a confidante. Danny finds himself shunned by his childhood buddies the Meachums, spurns his old K’un-Lun pal Davos and instills his trust in a single dojo master named Colleen Wing. Rand is only vaguely aware of who Luke Cage might be by way of borrowing one of his old bullet-riddled shirts from Claire in “Iron Fist.”
The biggest thing about these two characters is that they were the best of buds in the comics. Danny and Luke regularly teamed up as part of Heroes for Hire, as well as outside of it. They worked well together, looked out for each other and had the best offbeat conversations. Needless to say, this needs to come to fruition in “The Defenders.” While it doesn’t have to be a case of the two making matching bracelets for each other by the last episode, seeing this friendship at least get started in the show would be satisfying.
8. ELEKTRA’S RETURN
The inclusion of Elektra in the second season of “Daredevil” made for a tumultuous time for Matt Murdock. By the end of it all, Matt was ready to throw away his life in pursuit of his first love, only to have her slain by Hand operatives. Not all was as it appeared, however, as Elektra was seen being sealed into a rejuvenation chamber of sorts by the same ninjas.
It has already been confirmed that Elodie Yung will be reprising the role of Elektra in “The Defenders,” but the more curious part is just how her role will affect the entire team’s work. As was shown in “Iron Fist” with Harold Meachum’s deterioration into insanity following his resurrection by the Hand, the effects of the process may show in Elektra as well. If this happens, it will undoubtedly affect Matt’s judgement, but how will it impact the team as a whole?
7. CAGE AND JONES REFINING THEIR STYLES
No, we don’t mean the two of them getting a wardrobe update. Rather, the two need a few lessons in fighting techniques. In “Jessica Jones,” both characters were locked in a deadly brawl while Cage was under Kilgrave’s mind control. The two threw out powerful blows and grappled in what was a violent, albeit messy, fight. Although Cage picked up some boxing tips during his stint in prison, neither characters appeared to be formally trained in martial arts.
While we don’t expect to see Jessica Jones or Luke Cage practicing kung-fu stances, it would stand to reason that they might learn a thing or two from their more classically trained teammates. This would open up some great bonding opportunities for Danny and Luke especially, as it could lead to the budding friendship we mentioned earlier. Jessica would more than likely shrug off playing Karate Kid, but this could also lead to a more overarching character evolution in Jones accepting tutelage and help from others.
6. GOOD HUMOR
Granted, a majority of the time these heroes spend in their respective series is dedicated to some fairly serious stuff. Shutting down mob bosses, ending corrupt businesses, stopping drug operations or seeing justice done to manipulative psychopaths are just a few things the future Defenders have been busy with. That being said, there have been some pockets of humor throughout the shows. Matt Murdock’s interactions with Foggy were fairly lighthearted in the first season and Luke Cage’s conversations with Pops (or references to “getting coffee”) ignited plenty of chuckles.
While it is likely the Defenders will be kept busy by whatever threat is impending on New York City, hopefully it won’t be a grim affair for its entirety. Undoubtedly the quartet will have some clashes of ideals or difficulties in getting to know one another, which would make for some humorous asides. If they are truly going to be a team taking down some unspeakable evil, it would probably be a lot better if it had a bit of a lighthearted break here and there.
5. MATT’S STRUGGLES WITH HELP
Matt Murdock’s friendships are always strained in the comics and that certainly didn’t change with his Netflix series. The second season of “Daredevil” saw the hero spurning his good friend Foggy Nelson and budding love interest Karen Page, in favor of diving headlong into a conflict with the Hand. The return of Elektra into his life may have also had something to do with it, but Murdock found himself with a lot of burned bridges by the finale.
If the devil of Hell’s Kitchen has proven anything in two seasons, it’s that he doesn’t accept help well. Despite his friends giving him as much understanding and willing to give assistance, Murdock often dismisses their offers, shouldering all of the responsibility himself. How this will play within a team dynamic on “The Defenders” is the really interesting angle. Obviously they’re going to have to work together, but how that is accomplished with all of Matt’s hangups will be where the truly juicy drama can come together.
4. LESS BOARDROOM ANTICS
Yes, Matt’s a lawyer and Danny Rand is a majority shareholder in Rand Enterprises; both occupations dictate a little corporate finesse. The two characters spent more than enough time during their series out of costume, battling more minor evils clad in suits and ties in meeting rooms. “Iron Fist” especially was guilty of this, as it carried a partial focus on corporate corruption within the Rand company that eventually led Danny to Madame Gao’s drug operations.
The fact that these characters’ “real” lives were explored is a major plus, but the time for that is now over. Danny has already regained control of his father’s company and Nelson and Murdock was unfortunately shuttered (bright side, Matt has plenty of time for Defender stuff now). The slight exception of this, of course, is that whatever trial proceedings are needed in order to get Luke Cage free, boardroom talk should take a serious back burner in the new miniseries. With four heroes ready to do some good, it’s time to skip the boardroom chatter and really get down to business.
3. MORE COMIC EASTER EGGS
All of the previous Marvel Netflix shows were rife with small hints and references from their respective source material. Trish Walker showed off Jessica’s original outfit from her days as Jewel, Matt Murdock gets his new lightweight body armor from Melvin Potter (known as the villain Gladiator in the comics) and so on.
Now that the Defenders are finally coming together, it’s time for more of these references, but specifically we would like to see them tied to the characters’s shared camaraderie. All four heroes have had multiple team-ups in the comics, so it wouldn’t be difficult to reach for a few fun asides. From Luke Cage and Daredevil having a lunch break on a high ledge or Danny Rand referencing some future members of the group he’d like to add (since he was a part of Secret Defenders for a time in the books), the fantastically done Easter eggs should continue full steam ahead.
2. FINISHING THE HAND
With the exception of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, secret ninja society the Hand has been an underlying threat to New York City throughout the run of Marvel Netflix shows. The mysterious old woman known as Madame Gao appeared to be at the helm of things, before it was revealed on “Iron Fist” that the organization was suffering an internal power struggle. Gao remains free, while the ninjas have resurrected Elektra to be used as a weapon and the heroes are none the wiser to the group’s continued plans in the shadows.
It’s unknown yet what exactly will comprise the major threat that the Defenders will unite to defeat, but with Elektra’s inclusion, it’s more than likely the Hand will have a role in it. Hopefully the collaboration of the heroes would be to address the threat that, so far, Danny Rand and Matt Murdock have been unable to quash entirely on their own. It’s high time for the Hand to take a hiatus from the shows via a swift beatdown from the team.
1. AWESOME TEAM FIGHTS
“Daredevil” was the first of the Marvel Netflix series to debut, and it wowed audiences particularly with its amazing fight choreography (see: that amazing hallway fight). “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” both invested in the fighting abilities of the superheroes, but smartly kept in line with their more brawling styles. “Iron Fist” of course dove into the many martial arts the hero happened upon in his warrior’s path, including a rather entertaining fight with a drunken master.
With all of these characters’ unique fighting styles, “The Defenders” better cash in on the group battling enemies as one cohesive team. It likely won’t be a smooth transition and the collective will probably have to undergo some sort of squad training to learn how to compliment each other’s abilities. Hopefully though, we’ll get to see Luke and Danny fighting side by side or Daredevil and Jessica putting the brakes to some baddies in a back alley brawl. If nothing else, the show should at least feature one major conflict, where the group fights altogether against a collective enemy. Otherwise, why even bother?
What do you most want to see in The Defenders when it finally hits our screens? Let us know in the comments!