Before I fully start this review, I think it’s important to list the current IMDb scores of the four individual series for each of these characters (at the time of writing):
- Daredevil: 8.7
- Jessica Jones: 8.2
- Luke Cage: 7.6
- Iron Fist: 7
Why is this important? Well, the performance of these characters within The Defenders pretty much directly correlates with their rankings within IMDb – with Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) easily providing the most enjoyment, with Luke Cage (Mike Colter) being cool in places, and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) just kind of.. there. Sadly, this programme’s main focus is on Iron Fist, and his role within The Hand’s plan for gaining unlimited power. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Finn Jones does a poor job, or that Iron Fist is particularly annoying – it’s just that he is by far the least interesting character out of the four, leaving me longing for the return of Jessica, Daredevil et al whenever they leave the screen.
For me, this focus on the lighter style of Iron Fist and, admittedly to a lesser extent, Luke Cage, as opposed to the unmitigated grit of the Daredevil and JJ series, led to a programme that, at times, showed a closer resemblance to Agents of Shield than the shady, brutal Netflix world that Marvel had previously created – which was a shame for me. While there was, for sure, some pretty gruesome violence throughout (if a character came out of this series with their head still attached to their body, they got lucky), I just didn’t feel that the theme of this show fully corresponded with previous Netflix Marvel productions, with relatively cheap, predictable humour and at times near-cringeworthy dialogue kind of ruining the aura of the show.
Plus, what is with Marvel constantly bringing back people from the dead?! Just let a man stay dead once in a while, jeez. When one certain character ‘dies’ at the end of the series (I’ll let you find out who), I found myself checking further forward to see if they somehow miraculously survived – let’s just say I know Marvel too well..
Yet, while this three paragraph rant may well not be selling it to you right now, I can tell you that, for its faults, this was still a pretty entertaining series. While the first couple of episodes, understandably, drag, the show manages to develop a really interesting storyline – with the four protagonists’ battles versus The Hand providing some tense and really enjoyable moments. The Hand’s leader, Alexandra (played by the incredibly talented Sigourney Weaver), provides a refreshingly new angle for a Marvel antagonist, engaging in very little action – but still asserting her authority throughout the series.
Alexandra’s protegee, Elektra/The Black Sky (played by Elodie Yung), is also one of the main highlights of this series. Elektra was insanely good in the second series of Daredevil, with her chilling behaviour and straight-up ruthlessness genuinely scaring me at times. And she takes it up a level, at least in terms of her abilities, and provides some genuinely shocking twists throughout her journey. My only, relatively minor, complaint with Elektra is that her ultimate motives seem unclear, with the character seemingly going to extreme lengths without any real reason for doing so.
Finally, I do certainly believe that this show was most entertaining when the whole group was together. While some characters may be weaker than others, I think the cast created the perfect chemistry – providing a team bond based on genuine reluctance. The action is certainly best when everyone is involved, with Episode 3 (‘Worst Behaviour’) easily providing the best fight scene of the series. The difference in style of the characters works well, providing a nice mix of tension and qualities that leads to some really, really cool scenes.
As such, I’d say that if you want to watch a cool, entertaining series, with decent action and an interesting storyline, then this is for you. But, ultimately, if – like me – you really love Marvel’s Netflix world, then I think you may be slightly underwhelmed with this one.
An entertaining series, but one that drifts slightly away from the grit of Marvel’s Netflix world.