“The Defenders” gets Marvel Netflix shows back on track

Review by Grant Dillard, Staff writer

Photo from empireonline.com

Since 2015 with “Daredevil,” Marvel and Netflix have continued to impress both critics and audiences with their superhero shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, there have been signs of deterioration with the second half of “Luke Cage” and the entire first season of “Iron Fist” not being up to par with the greatness of “Jessica Jones” and the two seasons of “Daredevil.” Now in “The Defenders,” the heroes are finally coming together and it’s safe to say that expectations are very high for this show to be just as good as the shows have been before. Thankfully, “The Defenders” mostly lives up to that hype and gives audiences a solid team-up show.

In the second season of “Daredevil,” the shadowy ninja organization known as The Hand was introduced, said to have been a threat to society for many generations. Now The Hand plans to destroy New York City with the help of their new secret weapon: the newly resurrected Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung.) It’s up to Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) the Daredevil, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter,) Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand (Finn Jones) the Iron Fist to take on The Hand and put an end to their villainous plan.

First of all, the pacing is just perfect. Having only eight episodes rather than the usual 13-episode lineup means there’s less downtime or filler episodes. Each episode feels important and never comes across as boring. It helps that each of the episodes manage to have really exciting cliffhanger endings, which will make viewers very anxious to check out the next episode. The action scenes are handled quite nicely, though there are a few which aren’t as good due to dim lighting and weak editing. The best action scenes come from episode three, “Worst Behavior,” episode five, “Take Shelter” and the season finale, “The Defenders.”

The show does a good job at giving a smart way for the heroes to come together; that way being The Hand. Each of the main characters’ main goals at the beginning of the season connect in some way to the ninja clan. Danny is tracking down Hand members, Luke wants to help out a kid in Harlem who unknowingly ended up working for the organization, Jessica’s client turns out to be heavily involved with The Hand and Matt simply wants to protect his city, as well as possibly try to help Elektra, his former lover, get back to her old self again.

Each of the main characters as well as the actors portraying them are just as great as they were in their own shows. Jessica Jones provides a lot of comedy, always having something snarky to say about her current situation and the strange people she’s ended up having to work with. Luke Cage still manages to still be cool yet humble at the same time. He has no idea what The Hand can do, yet he’s willing to do anything to keep the people of New York safe. Danny Rand is given a much more interesting storyline here than in his mediocre first season. Even some of the heroes’ supporting partners such as Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are given some time to shine. This is especially great for Colleen Wing as she was one of the best aspects of “Iron Fist.”

However, it’s Matt Murdock who is given the most fascinating storyline. He hasn’t been Daredevil for a while due to Elektra’s passing and he’s been trying to rebuild his relationships with Foggy Nelson (Elden Hensen) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll.) But deep down, Matt knows that he has to suit up again, even if it means possibly losing his friends as well as his life.

While the heroes are handled wonderfully, the villains are a mixed bag. Viewers will finally get to find out who the main leaders, or the “Five Fingers of The Hand” are: a mix of new villains and even some of the side villains from the other Netflix shows.  While not awful, the main villain, Alexandra, doesn’t exactly leave much of an impression. Sigourney Weaver does a decent job as the character, but she never really comes across as menacing or threatening. Alexandra isn’t the worst villain of all the Netflix shows by any means, but she doesn’t match the brilliance of Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk or David Tennant as Kilgrave.

Though the villains could have been handled better, “The Defenders” is still a super entertaining series to check out thanks to its strong heroes and well thought out story. Plus, being only eight episodes, it’s the perfect series to binge-watch. It’s not as good as “Daredevil” or “Jessica Jones,” but it’s better than “Luke Cage” and miles better than “Iron Fist.” “The Defenders” is worth watching and highly recommended.