The Defenders (Netflix): Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist team up on the small screen

The Defenders Disney Marvel Netflix

After conquering Hollywood, Marvel has hatched up a grand scheme to rule television as well. Agents of SHIELD is well on its way as a decent network procedural on ABC, but Marvel is trying to reapply the Avengers formula to the small screen. It will first release four stand-alone shows on Netflix, centered around the B-tier superheroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. And then, all the shows will lead to a miniseries, an unprecedented television experiment, called The Defenders. I hope they include the following line in the show:

“….cause if we can’t protect the earth, you can be damn well sure we will defend it.”

The Scoop

Marvel has signed a deal with Netflix, to produce four shows, and a miniseries. Alan Fine, President of Marvel Entertainment, said:

This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel’s brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling. Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel’s specialty. This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what’s sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos also commented on the announcement:

Marvel’s movies, such as ‘Iron Man’ and Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’, are huge favorites on our service around the world. Like Disney, Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels.With ‘House of Cards’ and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution and we’re thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude.

The Characters

Daredevil: Have you ever asked yourself, “What if Batman was blind, had no interesting villains, wore red tights, and was generally lame?” No? Well, the folks at at Marvel sure had, and thus we got the character of Daredevil. Blinded at a young age, and driven by the murder of his father, his superpower is a keen sense of hearing, which compensates for his blindness, enabling him to map his environment. In other words: sonar. Just like a submarine, Mr. Wayne.

Daredevil already has a movie adaptation but that didn’t go well, and subsequent attempts to reboot the franchise failed, and thus the rights to the character reverted back to Marvel. Ben Affleck’s performance was poorly received, making it clear that the actor is not suitable to play a superhero. Thankfully no one has cast him as a major superhero ever since, which would have led to mass outrage among fans. Thankfully.

Luke Cage: Guy is known for being one of the first black superheroes to get his own comic. He was first thought to be appearing in Agents of SHIELD, but now it turns he will be getting his own show. Cage has superhuman strength and impervious skin, which makes him just a glorified action hero. In his initial incarnations he had very 70s blaxploitation look, but his recent versions look more like Dwayne Johnson. It’ll be interesting to see who they pick to play the guy, because the casting makes or breaks his fairly straightforward character. You’d need a beefcake with charisma, someone like, well, Dwayne Johnson.

Iron Fist: And here’s a martial arts-inspired superhero to keep things interesting! Daniel Rand-K’ai, as he’s otherwise known, can use his chi to make his fists look super-cool and punch things to oblivion. Like Cage, Fist was popular in the 70s, and has since been re-imagined in different stories. With a large history in the comics, including arcs where he partnered up with Daredevil and Cage, I’m sure the writers will be able to create something interesting.

Jessica Jones: She is a relatively recent character, appearing first in 2001. Created by Brian Michael Bendis, the adolescent power fantasies that the other characters mentioned above embody isn’t exactly the focus of her character.Her fairly cliched origin story gives her the basic package: Flight, and super-strength. She belongs to a different generation, the one of self-aware, post-modern millenials. Jones is a former superheroine who opens up a Private Detective Agency to deal with superhero-related cases. That’s a bit more interesting than “this guy can throw a really cool punch!”, although she can throw a cool punch.

Disney was already planning a show based on her back in 2009. A pilot was made by Twilight scribe Melissa Rosenberg, but ABC didn’t pick it up.



Coming soon!

The Good Stuff

There have been many great comic book movies, but I still feel television is a more ideal medium for comic book adaptations, because of the serialized nature. Without the constraints of a summer tentpole, superhero shows can be the uninhibited, subtle, character driven dramas that fans always dream about. And the best part, the shows can’t coast off on the appeal of the CGI alone, they have to stand on the strength of their writing.

The Bad Stuff

With so many projects in their pipeline, I’m afraid Marvel is going for quantity over quality. They’ve seen, after Agents of SHIELD, that people will eat up Marvel-related shows, so they’re churning out as many shows as they can.

Our Cynical Prediction

The show, along with its sister shows, will be hugely successful, leading to other networks crapping out more comic-book adaptations. Gone will be the days when you could escape from the bland PG-13 flicks and watch serious adult dramas on cable, because the superhero wave is about to hit television, and you’re going to be swept up in it, whether you like it or not.