The Defenders Season 1 Review in 4 Slices

So it has been just under a week since Marvel and Netflix dropped Season 1 of The Defenders which brought together the four street level heroes which previously appeared in their own series namely Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Coulter) and Iron Fist/Danny Rand (Finn Jones). Think of the limited series as the TV equivalent of the first Avengers. 

The show was highly anticipated and much hyped especially after the stellar seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Iron Fist, not so much. But enough jibber jabbering. With a SPOILER ALERT here’s my review in four slices:

#1 Daredevil and his Super Friends

I smell something. Something bad. Someone farted

It was great seeing all these characters together sharing the same screen. We have haunted Matt who has abandoned his Daredevil persona following Elektra’s death (more on her later), Jessica a hot mess and not taking any cases after Kilgrave, Luke imprisoned and out in a hot minute, and Danny and Colleen Wing running around the world searching for the Hand. Other than Danny none of them are really looking to be heroes and that is a running theme in the series.

Cox is a standout and Daredevil has the strongest arc of any of the characters. Ritter and Coulter are both cool as reluctant heroes getting caught up in a mystical battle and you also see embers of passion from their tornado of a relationship. The Luke Cage/Iron Fist bromance, one of the most legendary in comics, is only hinted at but you do get some sweet moments. Jones is thankfully less annoying and whiny and much more tolerable than he was in his own series. The show even seems to wink at that with a villain calling him “the dumbest Iron Fist yet” and Colleen Wing telling Claire Temple that he tells everybody who will listen that he is the Iron Fist.

The supporting characters are all solid with Scott Glenn stealing the show as sensei Stick; nobody does grizzled mentor like Scott Glenn. Jessica Henwick again outshines Jones as sword lady Colleen and Rosario Dawson’s Claire is always a breath of fresh air. Lady cop Misty Knight is back and she is much more fun supporting the heroes than harassing them. It was also pleasant seeing characters like Foggy, Karen, Trish and Malcolm again.

#2 Villian Vogue

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - January 27, 2017
Get away from her you Fist!

One of the strong points of the Netflix MCU is their villains, even more so than the MCU films. We have had the terrifying Kingpin, manipulative Kilgrave and suave Cottonmouth. For Defenders we have Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra, leader of The Hand as fans had suspected. And they did go in an interesting direction with her character. Instead of a scenery chewing megalomaniac we had a sophisticated, soft spoken master strategist who was afraid of her impending death and whose sole goal was to extend her own life. Weaver’s measured performance is wonderful and you can empathise with the character, even when she is going after our heroes.

It was also intriguing watching her mother/daughter relationship with Elektra played by Élodie Yung. It was interesting seeing the resurrected Elektra go from brainwashed amnesiac to main villain and her killing Alexandra was a welcome twist. Conflicted Elektra, however, was more entertaining than big bad Elektra though. Just saying. On the other fingers of the Hand Gao was fun as usual, Sowande had a cool look and some chilling lines, Bakuto had some fantastic scenes with Colleen (should have ducked dude) and the mysterious Murakami had some cool tension with Alexandra but as a fighter he failed to live up to the hype.

#3 Cage Fighting

Everybody was K’un-Lun fighting!

The first couple of episodes were action-lite, a bit too action-lite if you ask me, but that Iron Fist punch to Luke’s face was 12 flavours of awesome sauce. Things really pick up in episode three and we have the obligatory hallway battle. And it was pretty cool. Scarf masked not Daredevil kicks butt, Cage busts down doors and heads, Danny looks more believable beating folks and Jessica punches some fools. And while the Iron Fist stunt work is improved the Jessica stunt double was ridiculously obvious. 1990 called. They want their editing back. But Double J is not an action oriented character and she is at times incongruous in the more action focused show. Her sassy one liners were funny though. But back to the action!

Danny versus his allies was decent though the motivation painted the Iron Fist as a petulant brat. Not fun. Elektra got some sweet moves though they never explain why she can disappear at one point and then moves at regular speed the next. And it seems Gao has been really holding back on her abilities. She’s old but not cold. Colleen versus Bakuto had some stakes and a bloody conclusion, and the final Defenders versus Hand battle was well done if not mind blowing. What was that hip hop music at the end though? It came out of nowhere and, like a seeing eye cat, it just did not work.

#4 Almost Iron Script

Defenders Assemble!

The plot was clever though not as brilliant as a Daredevil Season 1 or Jessica Jones Season 1. There is much development of Daredevil’s story as we see him having put down the mask, pick it back up and wrestle physically and emotionally with Elektra. Iron Fist learns more of his destiny and goes from being self-centered to a protector of the streets by the end. But Cage and Jessica’s stories are not so tidy. The show rushes through Cage getting out of prison for expediency purposes, despite that being a major plot point in his series. And other than a couple of passing mentions of Kilgrave we do not see much impact from Jessica’s story and her arc is a tad flat. The series felt like the Daredevil and Iron Fist Show with Cage and Jessica just along for the ride. Daredevil did say he is not looking for Super Friends. I saw what you did there Marvel, and I liked it!

The series shone best in its quieter, more thoughtful scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed episode four “Royal Dragon” where the heroes just sat and talked. Danny gorging himself on Chinese food to restore his chi was worth a good laugh. Their scenes with Stick were also some fascinating stuff. The writing must be praised for giving both main characters and side character something worthwhile to do. But they did leave out some things as well. What happened to Jessica’s jumping ability? Did Danny forget that his Iron Fist could heal people so he let that guy from the Chaste die? And they could have had Elektra use some potion to trick Danny into punching the wall rather than him punching him like an idiot as we all foresaw him doing. The use of dragon bones to keep The Hand alive was intriguing but they never did tell us how the heck it ended up there. And did anyone believe that Matt Murdock was really dead? He’s signed on for Daredevil Season 3 people. And the police just ignoring the vigilantes following a deus ex Foggy? The only thing missing was a pretty red bow.

In the end The Defenders is a solid outing with some standout performances, pretty good action and gives progress to future Netflix MCU series. But it does have its hiccups and falls short of being the epic series fans hoped for.

Rating: The Defenders Season 1 gets 4.25/5 pork wantons

For my review of Iron Fist Season 1 you can click here.


  1. Excellent Review!! Love how detailed you got! I just finished binging on it today!

    Personally I hated the Iron Fist of all the Supers and I wished they focused a bit more on Luke and Jessica. The fight scene with Elektra and Danny, I legit wanted her to kill him. I utterly dislike his character.
    I do agree it felt like the Daredevil and Iron Fist show simply featuring the man with unbreakable skin and the strong woman.

    With regard to your post however:
    “What happened to Jessica’s jumping ability? ”
    Even though it wasn’t focused on much, she did jump in the last episode on the elevator scene. That’s the only way she could have really gotten all the way up there to hold the elevator long enough for Cage and Rand to be safe. Most of the fight scenes were indoors or didn’t really require her particular leg skills. I didn’t miss it much. Just like to see her rough up bad guys lol. I do agree the stunt double did not do her justice in some of the scenes. The last fight scene with The Hand minions, Luke did look a bit robotic in some of the wide angle shots of the fight scene.

    “Did Danny forget that his Iron Fist could heal people so he let that guy from the Chaste die?”
    I believe because healing draws more of his chi than just activating his fist, he probably wanted to preserve as much of his chi in the event he met up with the hand warrior who killed the chaste warrior. Then again, Danny is so self-absorbed and focused on his personal vendetta, it probably wasn’t even a thought.

    “And they could have had Elektra use some potion to trick Danny into punching the wall rather than him punching him like an idiot as we all foresaw him doing.”
    Personally, Danny is ridiculously annoying and frustratingly predictable. His little cringe session of a “monologue” in front of the board members in Midland Circle made me want to punch his face in. So I would understand why Elektra wouldn’t want to waste time trying to trick him. It would have been way too easy. And as she stated in her little fight with Matt, she loves the “game”.

    Otherwise I enjoyed it, but it felt too rushed for my taste. There were a lot of gaping holes that would leave the audience with more questions than answers. However I do look forward to Daredevil Season 3!! But I give the series a 3.9/5. They should just stick to what they have always been doing, rather than rushing the story along. Had they done the usual 13 episodes, they could have touched on a lot in the 5 episodes that would have given the entire show more “body” so to speak.

    Also the individual who added the random hip hop track at the end, needs lix. What the heck was that about? lol

    And In case you still didn’t realize, yes, I REALLY HATE DANNY RAND and personally wish he wasn’t the Iron Fist!

    1. Good points. Daredevil is definitely their strongest show though Season 2 felt like two seasons stuck into one like incompatible puzzle pieces. Season 3 should be better. I think the length of the series was decent as it was likely both for budgetary concerns and to avoid unnecessary filler. But they probably tried to handle a bit too much hence the rushed feeling. And I think very few people like Finn Jones as Iron Fist. But at least he upgraded from Jar Jar Binks annoying to Wesley Crusher Season 1 annoying lol.

      1. LMAO!! you do have a point with Finn Jones. Do you think after DDS3 there would be another Season of Defenders?
        I’m curious as to what Gao is going to do next, as the last living finger of the hand. Because I highly doubt she died, esp if DD is alive.

      2. Yeah. I think most likely Gao and Elektra survived. Gao will probably try and consolidate the various finger organisations. And I think there will definitely be Defenders Season 3 likely with Punisher and one other hero character.

  2. Everybody was K’un-Lun fighting! – My favorite line ever!! Great review as always. I felt like Defenders was good, not great and I was hoping for great. They never felt cohesive as a team, each fighting on their own, even when they were together. As opposed to the awesome use of team-ups we saw in the first Avengers movie (Iron Man blasting his una-beam into Cap’s shield, Widow bouncing off of said shield to hitch a ride, etc). Jessica felt so under-used in terms of her abilities (I too was wondering where her jumping/flying ability went) and for someone who’s supposed to be the best martial artist in the world, Elecktra and Daredevil both handed Danny his ass at different times. While I did dig the shorter series at only 8 episodes, I felt like they needed at least 10, to develop the side stories better. Maybe stick to 8 for individual characters.

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