The Defenders are finally here. After four separate series on Netflix they have all come together as a team- to battle the Hand for the fate of New York City. Some of the individual series have been better than others, but how would they work as an ensemble? I binged the Defenders and the first thing I can say is eight episodes works a lot better than the longer seasons the individual shows had. Even with eight episodes I felt this was a bit padded at times.
I'm just going to break this down into what I liked and didn't like, and would love to know what you think if you've watched it. This will be a spoilery post.
WHAT I LIKED
The camaraderie, the banter and just the team dynamic- I mean these are four very different people, and to bring them together- I thought it worked really well. Luke Cage and Danny Rand are famously buddies and I thought they did a good job setting up their relationship, starting from a place of distrust and slowly earning each others respect.
The supporting cast- this was a large ensemble, with the supporting cast from each characters' series assembled and having a moment to shine. A rapprochment of sorts for Matt Murdock and his supporting cast was handled nicely, and I also enjoyed seeing Trish as well. Even Jery Hogarth made an appearance! And of course we got the seeds for a future partnership between Colleen Wing and Misty Knight.
The Royal Dragon restaurant. At one point the four heroes take refuge in a Chinese restaurant, and spend several hours there getting to know each other and hiding out from the Hand. And eating. Lots of eating. Can I go there?
The show opened strong with Danny and Colleen in Phnom Penh tracking the Hand. The whole first episode was about set- up, and getting all the characters back into circulation and on a course to meet.
Elektra. She was a high point, and Elodie Yung is fabulous as the assassin with ties to Matt. It helps to really know their backstory, and it quickly became a central theme of the show, as did the relationship between Danny and the Hand.
The fight choreography was good for the most part. A definite improvement especially for Danny, whose own series was lackluster in that department. I thought the earlier fights were a little more impressive, things got more muddied in the later episodes, but it was solid. Nothing like the iconic hallway fights we've seen before, but still good.
NOT SO GOOD
Iron Fist- he's marginally better here than in his own show, but the casting problems of that show are still evident. The actor playing Danny Rand is just not convincing in the role, physically or from a martial arts perspective. They do what they can with staging and camera work, and choreography of course, but he is not a fearsome warrior- and above all else Iron Fist should be impressive. It's not just his signature power move- the actual "iron fist" - it's that this guy is supposed to be the best of the best. When they clash briefly he is more than easily handled by Matt, and Elektra has absolutely no trouble with him.
Madame Gao has lost a lot of her mystique, although to be fair that started in Iron Fist. From a mysterious elderly woman with unknown powers and a tie to K'un-Lun, she is demoted here to a lieutenant role by the arrival of Alexandra, the new big bad. Sigourney Weaver was fine as Alexandra but she doesn't do much, and when we meet the five fingers of the Hand I was not overly impressed. Murakami and the previously impressive Gao were the most interesting to me.
Stick- he was as annoying to me here as he was in previous shows. I just didn't really understand his role- Stick and the Chaste are kind of cool in the comics- but here he didn't do anything for me. In fact I kind of cheered when Elektra killed him!
There was some inconsistency in that Elektra on at least two occasions pretty much defeats Matt, Luke and Jessica singlehandedly- but then at the end her and Matt go toe-to-toe for a long time. And... she handles Danny quite easily, considering he's the "living weapon" and the ultimate martial artist. Also, how is it that Luke is pretty much impervious to anyone hitting him but Elektra easily handled him as well. A little too convenient.
What is the significance of Black Sky? We never really find out why the resurrected Elektra is called this, and why Alexandra wanted her.
We finally find out the meaning of the big hole underneath NYC. I had a feeling it was a Hand project, and it was kind of neat to imagine dragon bones underneath the city. Why are they in that location, and is there a link to Shou Lao the Undying? Also what is the "substance" we keep hearing about?
I thought one of the better fights was between the newly resurrected Elektra and a bunch of Hand goons in episode three. She went up against a lot of people, that must have been tricky to choreograph. Elodie Yung is amazing as Elektra.
We never get a sense of what happened to K'un-Lun.
We need more Trish. I think in some ways I enjoyed Jessica the most in this one, and I'd like to see more of her and Trish.
Disliked all shows, gave this 10 min, meh. LOL, but honestly I am sadReplyDelete
You gave it 10 mins?? Ha ha yeah I didn't love it...Delete
I have so many thoughts about this, but you're right -- Jessica was hands down the best part of this. I liked Luke and Danny together, and thought if they made Danny Luke's costar or something and cancel Iron Fist altogether. Give Colleen and Misty their own show, and Claire can have her own Night nurse show. I've thought about this alot lol! Ultimately, this was a dissapointment for me. Elektra bored me thoroughly to be honest and for me at least, Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra seemed to be brought on to talk about how awesome and badass Black sky is, while the show cycled through bringing Elektra back into the narrative. This was one long ode to how badass an fearsome Black Sky is and everyone should fear her. As it is I stopped watching by ep 6, and fastforwarded through to the end of ep 8. *shrugs* So disappointed.ReplyDelete
Yeah I was disappointed too. Iron Fist just does NOT work for me lol but Colleen & Knigt I could deal with. They need their own shoe! Just say Danny went on vacatoin or something lol. Elektra I liked but she doesn't DO anything, and Alexandra- yeah. And you know, you didn't miss anything. The back end was the worst of the show, and the fights were boring...Delete
Think I'll be giving this a great big miss.ReplyDelete
My son and I are going to try this series soon. Right now we are binging Game Of Thrones and almost through season 5. After that, we'll be trying this.ReplyDelete
I hope you guys like it.Delete
We've only seen the first episode so far, but my husband has been talking about this all year!ReplyDelete
I was looking forward to it too!!Delete
I'm going to go back and actually read this post once I watch the last episode! I'm always worried about spoilers ;) Thus far I'm enjoying it-- I couldn't really get into the individual series, but I'm like the ensemble show.ReplyDelete
Oh I'm glad you're liking the ensemble. The individual shows are hit or miss, I totally agree. I wanted this to be better than it was, but you know. Anxious to see what you think!Delete
I'm at the middle of the series and well I thought it was really long to start and there are many incoherences but well I'll finish and will see how it is in a wholeReplyDelete
Yeah I'd be curious to see what you think!Delete
I don't know if I should watch this one. I've only seen Jessica Jones the whole way through. The Iron Fist and Dare Devil lost my interest and I never saw Cage's story.ReplyDelete
Cage was whatever, you're not really missing anything? I thought Iron Fist sucked. Jessica though I liked and am looking forward to more of her!Delete
Ack I'm so behind on my tv shows Greg and this is another one that I need to make time for, I haven't seen any of the individual shows, so I don't know whether I should just jump straight into this, or get to know the individual characters first. But the fact that you binge watched this show has me excited!ReplyDelete
I think if you have time maybe watch a few of the individual shows? Jessica Jones was pretty good. But you can jump in too, and not be too lost.Delete
I hope we get another season of Jessica Jones with Nick Cage in a recurring role. I just can't bring myself to be interested in Iron Fist or Daredevil. But Jessica and Nick make for an interesting duo and I loved season one of Jessica Jones.ReplyDelete
I would love another Jessica Jones and I guess it's coming! I liked S1 of JJ too, and yeah Iron Fist was booorring!Delete
I can't say I have too many thoughts, simply because I haven't started the series yet. And because of that, I only skimmed your post (sorry Greg!) I have heard all around bad things about Iron Fist... should I watch it or just be spoiled and continue on to The Defenders? I just started Daredevil yesterday and I'm on episode three. Hopefully I'll be caught up by the end of the year! Then again, I just started college so things are pretty hectic.ReplyDelete
Yeah college can interfere with binging. :) I would say Iron Fist is skippable you know unless you REALLY want to know- but there's like an Iron Fist in 2 mins out there and if you watch that you'll be caught up! Then you can watch Defenders?Delete
I watched the first two episodes and I feel lost lol. I only watched part of Daredevil and Jessica Jones so should I finish those series first?? I'm having a hard time liking Jessica lol. Since GoT will be ending soon I'm starting to look for something else to watch.ReplyDelete
I'm so nervous to watch this. I'm working on getting through Iron Fist now... but I really only love Daredevil. We'll see how it goes!ReplyDelete
I binge watched this series in a day and have no regrets. I definitely felt it was stronger for being shorter but it could have still fit a bit more story in if it tried. I definitely felt Danny came out stronger from being a part of this group but he was still annoying (I've still not finished Iron Fist, it was too annoying). Danny was definitely the most immature of our heroes and it showed. He was sweet rather than annoying for the most part but I'm hoping spending time with these guys will allow him to grow a bit more into himself.ReplyDelete
I loved the restaurant scenes, they were some of my favourites of the show as it was a little more light hearted with everyone getting to know each other.
The highlight of the show for me was Matt and Jess together. THey were so fun, they just bounced off of one another with the banter. I would watch a show with them teaming up together, I really would. I forgot how much I loved Jess and then she was back on my screen being brilliant.
I do think the show could have done more. I assume the substance was the dragon bones? But I didn't get why Elektra seemed to have become more badass and could beat up Luke but then struggled in other fights. It made no sense. I felt like Alexandra was under utilised as a bad guy. I also still didn't like Elektra. I needed to know why the Black Sky was so important and why I should care about her.
I am a little over-marveled so haven't watched any of the individual shows (which from what I hear is good in some cases and not in others) - well I guess I did watch a couple eps of Daredevil and it didn't grab me. That fact would seem to suggest that I should not watch this but I love a team coming together with lots of witty banter...ReplyDelete
I would have missed the fact that this show had aired if not for you haha.ReplyDelete
I liked some of the individual shows more than Defenders = Jessica Jones and Daredevil... and then again Iron Fist was very boring and Luke Cage is better but I still haven't finished watching the first season...
Royal Dragon restaurant...I wish it was a real thing :D
I'm going to watch this soon so I'm sorry you didn't love this! I loved Daredevil and Jessica Jones but Luke Cage was a bit of a step down compared to the two other series - even though I liked it too! I have yet to watch Iron Fist though and I'm not sure I want to.ReplyDelete