Nate’s Defenders S1 review

Released August 18th, Defenders is the “Avengers” for the Marvel Netflix shows.

I got to admit that I’m a sucker for teams in comic books, so I was looking forward to this even if I hadn’t watched every Marvel Netflix show completely.

On the whole? I rather enjoyed it for the small-scale scope that it was. Keep your expectations moderated and it’s an enjoyable ride.

(spoiler talks past the trailer & fold)

The NEGATIVE

While I generally approve of character conflict in the interest of creating drama, there is a point that it becomes ridiculous and seems less an outgrowth of the character’s personalities and more the writer creating conflict for itself.  More than once the characters’ bickering comes off like a bunch of children who have never had an adult conversation or the need to talk to another human being before.  Also unlike the Avengers, I was disappointed there was never a moment where the group figured out how to come together and work together tactically.

Nobody had very much of a character arc save maybe Jessica Jones who (I think) learned to trust again.  It’s rather sad since with the events of his life, Danny Rand seems like he would have a natural character arc of struggling against suicide.  Not only does he have a bit of survivor’s guilt from his series, but that first season concluded with his adopted home, seemingly vanished because he screwed up.  We get approximately one scene of him having trouble sleeping over this fact but nothing else.  Obviously somebody needed to be the chipper, upbeat one of the group less the series be too depressing to watch.  Why they didn’t make that more Luke Cage who just got out of prison and got to see his girlfriend is beyond me.  I mean he’s a little chipper, but still spends much of the show very dour and serious.

The worldbuilding is also very inconsistent around the fighting.  Luke Cage is supposed to be tough and strong enough that he doesn’t even feel an attack unless it involves hitting him with a garbage truck (which at one point, he is).  Elecktra at points hits and kicks Luke hard enough to affect him, even knocking him out at one point.  So we know her strikes should be like getting hit with a truck.  When fighting Daredevil, we know she loves him, so she pulls back, that’s fine.  The question is why is Jessica or Danny still standing after fighting her?  Can they also get hit with trucks and survive?  It doesn’t seem like it (they seem to avoid bullets for example).  Is Elecktra, who is established as a cold-blooded killer multiple times in the season, supposed to be holding back? True she needed Danny alive at one point but after he served his purpose, why weren’t his insides reduced to mashed potatoes by one of her attacks?

The Hand itself will be of mixed effectiveness for people.  Ultimately it seems that the reveal of what their plans were this whole time had reached the point of no suitable payoff.  Even worse, it seems that upon reflection, had the Hand been just a touch more patient and considerate, they could have gotten what they wanted without bothering anyone.  Including that old problem of the villains revealing more by trying to cover up something than just leaving it alone.  Their plot ALSO suffers again from “how did _ know?” problem that Captain America 3 did.

And how can we ever take the Hand as “badass ninjas” when freakin’ CLAIRE manages to fight one for more than 3 seconds?  Everyone knows medics do not last against ninjas!

There are a few fight scenes that have the usual lighting and “who’s who” problem of many modern action stories.  Including the climatic one which is very disappointing.

Seriously, how can the characters treat Stick with so little respect?  Daredevil I get, but nobody else even gives him so much as a “sir” or a “that’s badass”?

The POSITIVE

Stick returns and is a total badass!

When they let the characters interact honestly instead of generating pointless conflict, it’s good stuff and entertaining.

Many fight scenes are quite well done, especially the one in the hallway.

Some of the Marvel Netflix shows I had a problem with them being overly long at times (seriously, 30 min is all some of them need) with some pointless moments.  At least this time, with 4 main story points, each episodes moves fairly briskly without much feeling wasteful.  It never feels like a chore to get through, probably because it has 8 episodes instead of the usual 13.  It’s an easy watch for a weekend.

The stakes did hit that sweet spot of feeling like we needed these 4 heroes, without hitting the threshold of requiring all of the Avengers.

Production value was pretty good and every actor gave solid performances.

The actual bringing together of these characters felt fairly organic and not too contrived.

I am totally ready for a Luke Cage & Iron Fist TV series.  I think there’s some real bromance potential there.

Final Verdict?

Well we can’t compare this to Avengers or Justice League, it’s just too different scales.  But comparing this season to DC’s team show Legends of Tomorrow, it is definitely a better watch than that first season (I haven’t watched LoT’s 2nd season yet).  Though if we compare it to the DC crossovers that are done annually, the Defenders has the better story and effects, but the DC crossovers have the more entertaining and fun character interactions.  The former is a high quality burger, the latter, the best banana split made.  Watch the one you have an appetite for.

I rate this season: QUITE GOOD – watch it if you’ve enjoyed any of the Marvel Netflix shows.

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