WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel’s The Defenders, available now on Netflix.
Marvel’s The Defenders delivered all the drama and action of Daredevil, while wrapping up (and improving!) major story beats from Iron Fist and minor ones from the Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The heroes assembled under the watchful yet untrustworthy eye of Stick to save New York City from the threat of the Hand, and in the process, brought to a close the era that began in 2015, and set the stage for Phase 2.
A lot of threads came together, as we learned the reason Iron Fist was so doggedly pursued by Madame Gao, Bakuto and their organization, the true purpose of Stick’s order the Chaste, the significance of the Black Sky (well, sort of), and precisely what was buried beneath Midland Circle. In the end, the Hand was seemingly destroyed, but the landscape for our heroes also shifted, seismically for some.
The Current Defenders
On The Defenders, the independent-minded heroes come to acknowledge the value in teamwork, and accept their roles as protectors of New York. Unfortunately, it requires Daredevil’s apparent sacrifice for Jessica, Luke and Danny to arrive at those realizations.
Certain that part of what Elektra once was remains within the resurrected Black Sky, Matt stays behind to fight, and perhaps save, her, all the time aware the timer is counting down on the explosives planted by Claire Temple and Colleen Wing around Midland Circle. As his newfound allies escape, Matt whispers to Danny to “protect my city,” spurring Danny to embrace New York as his home and, in one of the closing scenes of the finale, to take to the darkened rooftops like the Man Without Fear. The Hand now in ruins, Danny’s mission has changed (although the search for the mystical city of K’un-Lun and the threat of his best friend-turned-rival Davos loom large).
But in the final moments of The Defenders, we see that Matt isn’t dead and buried beneath tons of rubble (of course), but instead secretly recovering in the care of nuns, in a scene taken from Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli’s seminal 1986 storyline “Born Again.” It’s in that Marvel Comics arc that we may find clues to Daredevil Season 3.
Reunited with Claire, and seemingly reconciled with Jessica Jones following the events of her own series, Luke Cage has already eased back into his role as protector of Harlem; he’s even asking questions about the activities of Mariah and Shades, who took over Cottonmouth’s criminal empire. Jessica, who’s long resisted both the spotlight and the label of hero, reopens Alias Investigations in the final scenes of The Defenders, seemingly acknowledging that she has a role to play in a larger fight.
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