TV Review: “The Defenders” Season 1 – Go Away Iron Fist

Written by Danielle Sing October 07, 2017

Marvel's The Defenders

Netflix’s response to The Avengers, The Defenders, is the long-awaited ensemble cast five seasons in the making. While only eight episodes is underwhelming for this long of a wait, it’s all okay. The best parts of each character’s season are blended and executed very well together. Unfortunately, even with The Defenders‘ best parts, there’s still Iron Fist to drag it all down.

Danny Rand (Finn Jones) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) return to New York City after trying to fight The Hand around the world. At the same time, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) returns from Seagate Prison, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) receives a new case about a missing husband, and Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is dealing with life as a lawyer and a clean slate after leaving his Daredevil identity. The Hand has a hand in bringing them all together. Forced to fight their way out of a bind, they fight each other instead. It takes the kidnapping of one of their own, led by Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver), leader of The Hand, for them to band together and take this threat against New York City seriously.

“Am I the only one in New York who doesn’t know karate?”

In The Defenders, it isn’t just the characters who learn to work together, but also the styles of their series. When each character is by themselves, the style of The Defenders mimics that of their own series, whether that be through colour, musicality or tone. And when they come together, the styles blend seamlessly. Even the dialogue of the characters sounds like it’s from the same writers of each series. Unfortunately, Danny Rand is still a part of all this, with dialogue that’s, somehow, even worse than that in Iron Fist. I didn’t think that was possible.

Marvel's The Defenders

I’m one of many who didn’t love Iron Fist, but I remained positive in hopes that with “The Defenders”, Iron Fist/Danny Rand would finally get proper treatment. But as mentioned, the character styles and dialogue remain pretty much the same in The Defenders. Danny Rand is still as boring, flat and forced as before, which brings down The Defenders as a whole. I blame this partially on Finn Jones’s acting. All of his castmates outshine him. Sadly, the Iron Fist character is extremely important to the plot, planting a subpar actor with bad dialogue in the center stage. The Defenders would be far more bearable if Danny Rand was kidnapped earlier in the series and we had less of Finn Jones on screen. At least he’s gagged for most of one episode. Still, the best part of Iron Fist did make it into The Defenders.

“I know privilege when I see it. You may think you earned your strength, but you had power the day you were born. Before the dragons, before the chi. You have the ability to change the world without getting anybody hurt.”

What is the best of each series that make its way into The Defenders? While each character has their own fighting technique, the choreography matches that of Daredevil, with several stunning fights set in hallways, and other enclosed spaces. Defenders also uses Daredevil‘s emphasis of light and dark. It has the musical pacing of Luke Cage, which gives some slow burn pacing with some explosive conclusions. The darker ‘all-is-lost-why-are-we-even-here?’ tone follows that of Jessica Jones – whose witty comebacks and dialogue is still on point. Even the best part of Iron Fist made it into The Defenders: the battle between Coleen Wing and her mentor, Bakuto, who returns for an impressive round two. While I truly enjoyed Sigourney Weaver playing a villain, neither Alexandra or Élodie Yung as The Black Sky/Elektra stand nearly as strong as past Marvel Netflix villains.

the defenders

Lastly, The Defenders is much shorter than the previous Marvel Netflix series. It’s only eight episodes, instead of 13. While it’s disappointing to wait through five seasons for only eight episodes, The Defenders really doesn’t need more than that. The plot just needs the shorter episode count and doesn’t drag on for the purpose of runtime. While it would be great to see more of the Defenders working as a team, it’s nice to see them just do their thing and part ways, as if it was just a chance encounter on the streets of New York City. Also, The Punisher was officially announced before The Defenders release, which looks way more exciting.

“If you grab me like again, I’ll punch you so hard you’ll see.”

Overall, The Defenders uses the best part of each character’s series to strengthen its own while also staying true to each characters’ specific styles. Still, the writing and acting for Danny Rand is possibly even worse than in Iron Fist. There’s more anticipation brewing for another Marvel Netflix series anyway. In fairness, The Defenders gets two ratings.

My Rating if Danny Rand/Finn Jones was not in the series: 8.5/10

My Actual Rating (because I do not have the power to change these things): 7/10

the defenders

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