Marvel have proved that dropping all episodes of a comic book series at once can work brilliantly. Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are all binge-worthy series — Iron Fist was a little more difficult to get through, but it still manages to entertain in places. And with the release of The Defenders, Marvel have once again shown that their way of planning ahead is a great method of building hype and excitement for things to come. Fans have been eager to see how The Defenders come together since Daredevil’s first season. Well, know we now know all the answers, but did The Defenders meet the high expectations of fans? Not quite.
Although it’s been loved across the globe, it certainly has a few problems too. And after a streak of critically acclaimed MCU movies, we have to wonder — are The Defenders better than The Avengers? After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around since 2008, the Netflix shows have only existed since 2014. It’s not about who got there first, but we’ve certainly spent more time in the MCU, but we present to you 8 reasons why The Defenders are better than The Avengers (and 7 why they’re not).
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE DEFENDERS!
15. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: RELATABILITY
It’s the main draw of the Marvel Netflix Universe. We get to know these street level heroes from the ground up. We see them struggle with money, managing their alter-egos or even being recognized for who they are. Even the most invulnerable among them, Luke Cage, has to visit the hospital during the first season of Jessica Jones — proving that he might be a superhero, but also still very much human.
When one of the Avengers is injured, they simply whip up a futuristic piece of technology to repair the damage and send them on their way (we’re looking at you Hawkeye). Even War Machine was fitted with an experimental prosthetic to help him walk after his spinal injury in Civil War. Jessica Jones just drinks a bottle of whiskey and lets Claire Temple sew her back up. They’re super powered, but still one of us.
14. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: NO INFINITY WAR
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building since 2008 with Iron Man and has continued to flourish ever since. Sure, there have been some poorer entries into the franchise (*ahem* Thor: The Dark World) but it’s largely been a nonstop whirlwind adventure. But add in the long form way of storytelling and teasing a larger villain behind the scenes, and it becomes a complex narrative.
Yeah, we’ve seen The Hand across several of the Netflix series — but do they led up to a universe spanning threat that involves one of the most powerful comic book villains in history? Nope. Kevin Feige has brought the MCU to a whole new level with the build-up to Avengers: Infinity War, and it’s something the shows can’t compete with. Also, their lack of involvement in the coming conflict is a huge minus (and a huge letdown).
13. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: WAY MORE STYLE
Each series had a certain tone and visual style that they made very clear to viewers. Daredevil had the long takes during important fights, Jessica Jones had a noir feel to it, and when The Defenders finally rolled around, the visuals all blend into one cohesive style, creating a colorful haze that signifies each hero.
The Chinese restaurant scene showed off the colors altogether now that the team had all joined up, even if they were all reluctant to do so. And although the big screen MCU don’t shy away from color, they don’t utilize it in a way that grabs the viewer and impresses them. It all looks shiny and bright, and that’s about it. There’s no depth in the visuals on screen, as they’re all designed to be blockbusters — appealing to everyone.
12. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: INFERIOR SPECIAL EFFECTS
Although the Netflix shows make the best out of what they have (and they do look incredible in places), the large budgets of the MCU movies give us some genuinely beautiful scenes. Some of the cosmic scenery in Guardians of the Galaxy is stunning — even the space colony of Knowhere is eerily impressive. Then there’s the suits, powers and scope of the stunts. The effects of characters like The Vision and Iron Man are mainly effects driven, and they just wouldn’t exist in the MCU without believable effects.
But they manage to hold their own against practical effects without looking corny. Compare that to Danny’s glowing hand, and the Iron Fist doesn’t necessarily hold up. Then there’s Rocket and Groot, the two CGI characters in Guardians of the Galaxy who have become the unofficial mascots for the team — they’ve become pop culture phenomenon’s in their own right.
11. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: JESSICA JONES
Do The Avengers have their own Jessica Jones? Not a chance. Sure, there’s the odd snarky remark from Tony or Falcon — but no one makes sarcastic insults quite like Jessica. Just put her in the same room as someone in a costume and she’ll tear them to pieces. Both literally and figuratively.
She does so in a way that isn’t bullying, but that makes it clear that she doesn’t care for their costumed way of super-heroics. Yes, Tony Stark has some great lines — but Jessica Jones ripping into Matt Murdock for covering his face was absolutely perfect. And although her responses to most situations are sarcastic, when she can hurl people around like they’re ragdolls, you’re not really going to answer her back… are you?
10. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: NOT AS ICONIC
When the first Avengers film was released in 2012, fanboys across the world had goosebumps during that circular shot of the team all standing together as they faced off with the Chitauri. Marvel Comics’ most famous team all stood together in live action and it was incredible.
And we got two similar scenes during Age of Ultron that were just as cool, flowing from each hero mid-fight at the start, and then all fighting to beat down Ultron. But as a group, the Defenders only have one truly cool scene, and after it was used in most of the trailers it was pretty much spoiled for us, as they capitalized on the hallway fight trend from all the previous Netflix shows. It just doesn’t quite match up to that seminal Avengers moment.
9. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: LACK OF COSTUMES
We were barely half an hour into Iron Man before he put on his first suit of armor. But with The Defenders, they’re a little more subtle and practical. Daredevil’s costume steadily evolved over the first season before we got something resembling the classic red, horned outfit from the comics. But Luke Cage’s yellow shirt is something we see him in frequently — without it being a costume.
But the writers still found an excellent way of making fun of his classic ‘70s outfit, headband and yellow chest-exposing shirt. Even Iron Fist got a proto-costume when the colors of his robes in K’un-L’un matched his comic outfit. Plus, you won’t catch Jessica walking around New York with a giant star on her chest — it’s like being a walking target. Although imagine the conversations and insults she’d throw out if she ever did meet the Avengers…
8. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: NOT ALWAYS A TEAM
Yes, the way The Defenders came together was organic — but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be fighting together. We saw how difficult it was for them to all join forces and align with one another, and showrunner Marco Ramirez already said they likely won’t team up again. But what’s the point? It’s the Marvel universe, there’s always going to be someone threatening to level a city or take advantage of it.
So why not agree to come together again should a situation arise? The Avengers try and overcome personal differences to battle threats no matter the cost. By the end of Civil War, Steve had apologized to Tony and offered his help if the Avengers needed him. Danny, Jessica, Luke and Matt should do the same.
7. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: MORE DEVELOPED
Don’t get us wrong, there are some spectacular character arcs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But they only happen over the course of several movies — years at a time and only for a few hours. With the Netflix shows, the extended time of 13 episodes per solo season and eight for The Defenders means the audience gets to see more of each characters’ journey. We understand why The Punisher does what he does in Daredevil S2, but then because of Matt’ that means by The Defenders we know why he’s retired.
The long-form method of storytelling lets the audience get to know those characters to the root of their personality in a way that the movies just can’t provide. And that’s why the ending of The Defenders felt heavier than other seasons…but we’ll get to that later.
6. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST
Yeah, we’re going there. The Avengers don’t have an Iron Fist that constantly has to tell people how strong he can be so that audiences know exactly what his powers are. The Avengers just get on with it, they’re too busy saving the world. Again. And yes, Danny may never have gotten over the loss of his parents as a child — but Tony Stark managed to work through his grief. He became a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist. What did Danny Rand become? Annoying.
And yes, flawed heroes can be some of the most entertaining, but when it counters the very nature of the character — it just doesn’t work. Danny Rand in the comics is a master of numerous fighting styles but in the series gets beaten by various thugs. That would be like taking away Tony Stark’s sarcastic nature. It just shouldn’t happen.
5. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: MORE SAVAGE
Come on, don’t say you didn’t expect us to say this one. With Marvel’s blockbusters catering to all ages (sort of), the Netflix series are most definitely adult. Yes, people fight, die and get hurt in The Avengers, but not in a gritty realistic way. The Defenders saw Stick cut his own hand off to escape and deal with a bloody stump for the rest of the season — we saw two seconds of Bucky after his accident.
Netflix gives Marvel the chance to be bloodier — just take Daredevil for example. His hallway and staircase scenes are violent and gory and, in bizarrely barbaric way, devilishly entertaining. There’s something fantastic about watching a superhero be able to really dish out some severe punishment on criminals. And although he’s not a Defender — an honorable mention has to go to Frank Castle and his prison fight. Bloody hell. Literally.
4. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: THEY’RE DISCONNECTED
The Netflix family of Marvel shows can barely acknowledge the Avengers defending New York other than calling it “the incident” — let alone include huge comic book characters that aren’t just street level vigilantes. And when they refuse to let characters cross over into each other’s franchises, it just doesn’t make sense.
Spider-Man lives in New York yet there’s no mention of any other vigilantes or reference of the Avengers when it starts to hit the fan. An ancient organization have infiltrated ever level of New York — is it not worth calling for backup? Have the Avengers ever had experience with rooting out a secret evil group? Oh yeah, Hydra. And although their characters are more grounded, they just don’t have the “wow” factor that the Avengers bring to the table.
3. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: SUPERIOR VILLAINS
One of the biggest problems with The Avengers? Their villains. The only truly brilliant villain we’ve had till this point was Zemo, as he pitted the characters against each other without any CGI madness coming from himself. But the rest are very forgettable. Dark Elves? Boring. Ronan? One trick pony. Kilgrave? Terrifying. Kingpin? Menacing. The Hand? Powerful. They’re a centuries old organization that have their ties into the very ground beneath New York — that’s power.
We’ve met various members of The Hand across the solo series, and we’ve come to understand what makes them so formidable. Madame Gao and Bakuto are steely and powerful in their own unique ways. But Alexandra was a heroine in her own eyes, and no one else’s. The Defenders saw the culmination of five seasons worth of teasing that lead to a showdown worth the wait. Good villains make better heroes.
2. WHY THEY’RE WORSE: LACK OF SCALE
The Defenders are very small scale — you don’t see Daredevil catching any nuclear missiles and hurling them into space do you? But the Avengers movies deal with world-changing events and characters that are too big for the small screen. And with cosmic events on the horizon, the Avengers have a lot more ground to protect. Did we mention that thanks to Doctor Strange, they’ll be protecting Earth from other dimensional threats too? Beat that, Jessica.
Sure, some of the outfits might be a little cheesy, but they can dish out plenty of punishment too. Just look at the states Iron Man and Captain America were left in after their clash in Civil War. If the two teams were pitted against each other, the fight would be colossal. Although it’s worth saying, we’re not 100% sure which team would be “winners”.
1. WHY THEY’RE BETTER: GAME-CHANGING ENDING
At the end of The Defenders, two characters are trapped underneath Midland Circle — and they don’t make it out. Although Jessica, Luke and Danny all survive, Matt Murdock and Elektra are still underneath. But Matty is revealed to be alive at the end in the care of some nuns and this teases big things on the horizon.
Daredevil season three looks to be using “Born Again” and “Guardian Devil” as the basis for the plot if the ending is anything to go by. The scope and style of those stories done in the Netflix style fit perfectly together in a gory, angry narrative. It’s the natural evolution of various Daredevil characters, it would have taken three or four films to get to if this was the MCU.
Do you agree The Defenders was a better time than an Avengers movie? Let us know in the comments!
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