The Defenders 1.01-1.02 Review: “The Groundwork”

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Marvel’s Defenders dropped this morning on Netflix, marking the first full superhero crossover between the cinematic universe’s TV titles. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are strung together to fight for the city that they all love and wish to save for different reasons. Featuring other popular characters like Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Claire Temple, Patricia Walker, Elektra Natchios and more, the unlikely congregate put aside the woes of the personal lives to form the most capable team of vigilantes Hell’s Kitchen has ever seen.

The Hand has been gathering since Daredevil Season One. They seek power, influence, and something called the Black Sky. But now they need something more. The Iron Fist. We are introduced to the Five Fingers of The Hand, and their leader, Alexandria (Sigourney Weaver), a woman who has lived lives upon lives. Falling in line with the other Netflix shows, we are given a villain worthy of her status. With Elektra as her “muscle”, we watch the heroes struggle to match her skills, making the fight scenes quite compelling.

Defenders Review Misty Knight

Episodes one and two give the show time to start, and though the pacing feels slow, as opposed to a loathsome drag that stalls getting to the point, it careful lays the groundwork on which the series is built. The characters aren’t forced into awkward improbable introductions and the individual conflicts they start with eventually overlap one another and thread into something that gives them all the same goal. Clever meetings such as Matt Murdock representing Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage and Iron Fist going after the same enemies but with different goals in mind, make the meetings organic. Their separate reasons for being involved also create palpable conflict and intriguing character interaction.

We open up in the Cambodian sewers with Elektra fighting with an enemy of the hand. Danny Rand intervenes to try to save the man’s life but fails. We can see here that Elektra is a trifle or two more skilled than she was previously in Daredevil Season 2, and sets the precedent for the kind of antagonists our heroes will have to deal with. We then get Jessica Jones taking a case involving a man acting strangely as told by his wife. When he kills himself, she finds herself getting interrogated by Misty Knight until her lawyer, Matt Murdock comes to her rescue. Meanwhile Luke, fresh out of jail, is trying to help a young kid who just lost a sibling before he gets wrapped up in his own trouble. In the process, he finds himself hunting down a lead that ends up with him and Danny Rand meeting for the first time.

This was one of the first encounters I was looking forward to the most, and it went quite as expected. In the comics, the duo Power Man and Iron Fist, are known for complimenting each other with their differences. Luke is a big muscle bound black guy who takes bullets to the chest. Danny is a slimmer white guy with intense martial arts abilities and the speed to dodge bullets if necessary. Their strength and weaknesses are shown when the first meet as Danny can’t hurt Luke, save for with the Iron Fist, and Luke can hardly get a hand on Danny. It was a treat to see it actually play out.

With the Defenders off to a foundational start, the end of episode 1 gives us our catalyst that will kick things into high gear. And with the heroes now running into each other, I’m sure that we will start to see things tie together as the plot unfolds and the action starts to take place. I see great things that can happen in episodes 3-8, and I’m sure that it will not disappoint.

Go catch Marvel’s Defenders on Netflix now.

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