Easily this summer's most anticipated Netflix show, Marvel's The Defenders finds Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage joining forces to end the perpetual threat posed by The Hand. Sigourney Weaver joins the cast as the sinister Alexandra, the greatest threat these heroes have ever faced. With the show's release just weeks away, the hype has reached a feverish new high. It's understandable; the wait for this lower-tier superhero team-up has been almost as agonizing as the wait between Iron Man and The Avengers. Luckily, the wait and culmination has been halved by the big wigs at Marvel and Netflix.
Fans had to wait four long years for the Avengers; they weren't about to wait another four to see their favorite street fighters unite under a single name and purpose. A handful of lucky critics received screeners from Netflix just days before San Diego Comic-Con, but many of the rumors and whispers being traded between fans have still not been confirmed or denied. We won't have much concrete information until the full season streams on August 18th. Until then, we delve into what has been confirmed and what we hope will be confirmed when the show finally hits Netflix.
15 WHAT WE KNOW: ELEKTRA RETURNS
Elektra Natchios died, but there was no finality to her demise. After taking Nobu's blade to her stomach in the season-capping episode of Daredevil's sophomore outing, the Black Sky sat in The Hand's resurrection pod for months. However, trailers for The Defenders soon confirmed her return, promising plenty of emotionally-charged exchanges between her and love interest Matthew Murdock.
The breadth and depth of her role aren't yet known; it's likely that Weaver's villainess will deploy the crimson-clad assassin and force her to do the dirty work for her. Either way, we know she's going to be back in a less-than-friendly capacity and that spells trouble for our heroes. Will the light bring her back to its side, or is evil Elektra here to stay? We'll find out soon enough.
14 WE HOPE IS TRUE: THERE'S A GENDERSWAPPED MEPHISTO
If the internet rumors are correct, Mephisto will take on villain duties in The Defenders. This rumor started circulating months before Sigourney Weaver revealed herself as the show's villain, but the casting announcement did little to silence the whisperings. Even if this happens to be wishful thinking, blatant disregard for confirmed facts, or general inattentiveness, we hope Mephisto is the one pulling the strings.
The demon has caused trouble with many of Marvel's heroes. He's not a prominent villain in Defenders canon, but that doesn't mean Marvel can't take liberties with him by making him a her. If this is true, theorists and speculators will scream in unison, "I told you so!" before moving on to their next theory. If it's not, it's a fun idea that Marvel may spin in a future effort.
13 WHAT WE KNOW: MURDOCK ISN'T DAREDEVIL ANYMORE
When The Defenders kicks off, Matt Murdock has opted for a "normal" life as a lawyer. He no longer parkours his way between alleyway brawls; he's truly done being Daredevil and the protector of Hell's Kitchen. Until he's not, of course. The show will obviously mark the return of a suited-up Murdock, but actor Charlie Cox maintains that the show's early episodes will find him fighting his darker instincts and trying to make "mundane" work.
The Daredevil actor confirmed his character's new direction while being interviewed, saying, "He's focusing all of his energies on being a pro bono lawyer. And I don't think he has any interest, really, in being Daredevil anymore." We'll see how long that lasts, as the first two seasons of Daredevil has shown there isn't a lack of work for The Devil of Hell's Kitchen.
12 WE HOPE IS TRUE: DEFENDERS TO RETURN IN AVENGERS 4
This rumor has us screaming for a "yes" from the higher-ups at Marvel. The Defenders and The Avengers don't exactly share the same playing field power-wise, but that doesn't mean they can't team up if the need arises, and with Thanos' impending arrival with his powerful Infinity Gauntlet, the universe is going to need all every hero possible to defend it.
A few years back, Screenrant published a piece exploring talk surrounding the Defenders and if they would show up in the untitled Avengers 4. Marvel certainly isn't against it; they just want to time it correctly if they decide to do it. There has been no word on what role, if any, the team will play in a future Avengers film. Only time will tell if these rumors hold any truth.
11 WHAT WE KNOW: ALEXANDRA LEADS THE HAND
When Sigourney Weaver revealed herself as the villain of The Defenders at the 2016 New York Comic-Con, fans lost their minds. The franchise had pulled out all the stops and snagged a sci-fi legend for a significant role, sending hype for the show rocketing skyward and inspiring fervent speculation. At the time, the nature of her role remained hidden behind tight lips and an even tighter marketing campaign; Netflix didn't reveal the first full-length trailer until May 2017, seven months following the jaw-dropping announcement.
Now, though, recently published reviews have confirmed Weaver's Alexandra as The Hand's enigmatic leader. The show's costume designer, Stephanie Maslansky, also commented on the villainess's role in an interview, saying, "I think that she's clearly a baddie, and she's the head of an ancient organization which is grounded in the comics."
10 WE HOPE IS TRUE: IRON FIST WILL FINALLY DON HIS COSTUME
Iron Fist critics have been grousing about the show's failure to introduce Danny Rand's classic suit since the series premiered in March. Fans bashed the show for a number of reasons, but the absence of his costume seemed to have angered fans more than anything else. These same critics saw the exclusion of the suit as a way around having Rand finally take on the mantle of the Immortal Iron Fist.
However, rumors are that Rand will don his Iron Fist costume and accept his destiny before The Defenders ends, which we only hope will make the upcoming second season at least a little better. This would be a smart way to appease the aforementioned bashers who wanted to see the character come into his own. Here's to hoping The Defenders delivers in this respect.
9 WHAT WE KNOW: COLLEEN WING WILL BE IMPORTANT
Fans who enjoyed Jessica Henwick's portrayal of Colleen Wing in Iron Fist will be pleased to learn that the character will play a pivotal role in The Defenders. Beyond functioning as a support beam for Finn Jones's Danny Rand, Wing will have her own arc, with her own problems and setbacks.
In an interview, Henwick commented, "Yes! Colleen is a pretty large part of The Defenders." She continued, saying, "She's with Danny still, not in New York, and they're both searching for answers. But she's been with Danny 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and she hasn't really had any time to come to terms with all the things that happened in Iron Fist." It's great to hear that she still has a part to play in the ongoing war with The Hand.
8 WE HOPE IS TRUE: SPIDER-MAN TIE-IN?
This could be huge. This rumor started a bit more recently than the others (and started gaining traction on Facebook), posing some interesting questions about its plausibility. It's honestly quite a stretch because Marvel has worked hard to keep the Defenders and the Avengers in one universe without actually having them share stories and the MCU Spidey has only recently made a splash in the world of the Avengers.
Peter Parker may inhabit the same city as these street-level heroes, but he's just coming away from a harrowing fight with the Vulture and may stick around his own neighborhood for the time being (well until Thanos lands anyways). In the unlikely event of a Tom Holland appearance/Easter Egg, we'll be anticipating that possible Avengers/Defenders get-together.
7 WHAT WE KNOW: NO PUNISHER
Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle still shines as the highlight of Daredevil's second season. He brought a quiet, seething power to the character that juxtaposed with the more talkative characters in the show, his rage often bursting through the barrels of the military-grade weapons he so readily fired into mobsters, gangsters, and other unsavory characters. Fans worried that Castle wouldn't appear in The Defenders; as it turns out, their worries were completely founded.
Fans hoped that the tease at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con meant a Punisher appearance in The Defenders, but this rumor was shot this down just days after the panel. The footage shown at The Defenders panel belonged to the character's stand-alone series and will not pop up in next month's event series.
6 WE HOPE IS TRUE: CLAIRE TEMPLE WILL DIE (HEAR US OUT!)
As the connective tissue between every Marvel/Netflix show released to date, Rosario Dawson's level-headed Claire Temple plays an integral role. If rumors are to be believed, she'll give them an even stronger reason to unite against The Hand -- Temple could die in The Defenders. The rumor could be dismissed as a warning to Marvel, and it may be just that. However, back in April, it was reported that Rosario Dawson would not be in The Punisher series. The actress attributed her absence to scheduling conflicts, but that could be skillful misdirection.
Her death would represent a turning point for Marvel's Netflix shows. Without her as the common thread, the Defenders would have some incredibly compelling motivations and could present the showrunners with the opportunity to bring out the darkness in each of them. We love Claire, but maybe her death could inspire them the same way her life did.
5 WHAT WE KNOW: SUPPORTING CHARACTERS RETURN
For months, beloved characters' involvement in The Defenders remained a frustrating uncertainty. With the Punisher notably absent from the upcoming show, some expressed worry that certain favorites will also sit this out. However, unlike their Punisher worries, these concerns aren't founded. Karen Page, Misty Knight, Franklin "Foggy" Nelson, and other prominent supporting characters have been confirmed to appear in Netflix's blockbuster superhero show, The Defenders.
Knight appears in the trailer while Page and Nelson were confirmed to show up sometime during the course of the series. The importance of their roles hasn't been revealed, but that won't matter to most viewers. All we want are glimpses of the characters lending helping hands to the titular team, and it looks like that's exactly what we'll get.
4 WE HOPE IS TRUE: ALEXANDRA IS ACTUALLY ANCIENT
As far as we're concerned, The Hand leader Alexandra has already been confirmed to be an ancient being. Whether the character is a disguised Mephisto or The Beast, her wardrobe draws inspiration from ancient stitchings and stylings. Clad in elegant whites and grays, she exudes power and prowess that course through history like blood courses through healthy veins.
An immortal Alexandra would be conceptually congruent with The Hand's protracted existence. No mortal could possibly gain power over an organization that worships immortality and we want to see the team really tested against something that may overpower them. We obviously can't confirm anything yet and we're just speculating (with a healthy dash of hoping), but odds against her being mortal are overwhelming. We'll just have to wait and see.
3 WHAT WE KNOW: IT'S A SHORTER SEASON
After spoiling us with 13-episode seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, Marvel and Netflix surprised us by announcing that the first season of The Defenders would only contain eight episodes. While this may disappoint diehards, it could be a positive in negative wrappings. Cutting out fat and filler may be the best route the showrunners can take, especially if it results in a lean story.
If anything, the shortened season will allow for a greater emphasis on character development. The previous shows excelled at guiding us toward an understanding of these heroes, but they also busied themselves with an exhausting amount of set-up. The Defenders needs to find its footing immediately if it is to live up to the hype built around it.
2 WE HOPE IS TRUE: ALEXANDRA IS THE BEAST
Who (or maybe what) is The Beast? Short answer: The Beast is a monstrous demon revered by The Hand, to whom he has taught the magical skills we've glimpsed in Daredevil and Iron Fist. This rumor is without a doubt the most likely of the lot because of the characters ties to The Hand and the fact that Sigourney Weaver has, as already established, revealed herself to be the big bad ready to take on our favorite street-level heroes.
Alexandra definitely keeps her secret hidden beneath her flowy fabrics, but maybe the Defenders will force her to unleash her true power. That would make for one doozy of a battle. We hope that Alexandra is The Beast; The Hand story needs to come to a head, but for that to happen the head needs to come.
1 WHAT WE KNOW: NO WILSON FISK
Months ago, Daredevil actor Vincent D'Onofrio let slip that his character, Wilson Fisk, will not show up in any capacity at all in The Defenders. The confirmation came from his Twitter account, where fans frequently bombard him with questions about his forthcoming performances, especially those related to Marvel properties. D'Onofrio has also said Marvel exercises extreme caution with his appearances, suggesting that they want to reserve their big bad for only the most special occasions.
Sharply-dressed villains are like Sith: there can only be two, and they can rarely be in the same place at the same time -- too many villainous deeds to be done. D'Onofrio's absence will give Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra the screen time she requires to solidify herself as the new alpha villain, and as much as we love Fisk, we're totally cool with it.
What are you hoping for when The Defenders debut? Let us know in the comments!