The Defenders season 1 review: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist and one big kung-fu party

Ever since we starting watching The Defenders season one our life has become (as Jessica Jones puts it) “one big kung-fu party” – and that’s not a bad thing. We didn’t know how this crew was really going to come together to become a cohesive team (especially with Jessica Jones since she does not play well with others), but we were pleasantly surprised to see that this grouping worked.

If you’re looking for a review of The Defenders that focuses more on what happened this season, then this probably isn’t the review you are looking for. While we could get into a recap of our superheroes fighting The Hand and all that transpired, we figured you can get something like that anywhere. In our review, we are going to touch on things we liked about the season as well as thing that could be improved on moving into The Defenders season 2. So be warned that there are major spoilers ahead as we dive in and start to put the pieces together.

What worked…

The color palette: Daredevil’s reds, Jessica’s blues, Luke’s yellows and Danny’s greens – This series did a wonderful job playing with the color palettes of our superheros and we always appreciate a show that can do this without it becoming a distraction. Even though this series is set in a real place (New York City), the shifting of colors (depending on which superhero was on screen) helped to give this universe a comic book feel that many other shows rarely achieve.

Fight sequences: We have always loved this Netflix Marvel universe for it’s incredible fight choreography and The Defenders didn’t disappoint. Right from the jump we had Colleen Wing and Danny Rand in a pretty smart fight sequence in the sewers of Cambodia and we knew that we were going to be in for a treat. What we were really hoping for was to see some of the in-house hero fighting and we got that relatively early. Iron Fist and Luke Cage got into it in the second episode where we saw Danny actually hold his own against Luke, but through out the series we had a few different match ups. Once the team was together fighting as a group, that’s when the magic really started to happen.

The banter: While the story left us something to be desired since we are long over the Hand and their tom foolery, what we did like was the banter between our four heroes. As we said, we didn’t know how this group was going to work out since we have Moody Jessica, conflicted Matt, smooth Luke and childish Danny, but the dialogue really helped flesh this out and brought them together in ways we didn’t expect to see.

Here are some of our issues…

Jessica Jones’ power: All of the male heroes had multiple chances to show off their fighting styles and powers in the series, but Jessica’s super strength and her ability to fly was left at the side lines. Luke, Matt and Danny all know how to fight, but Jessica doesn’t (and even made reference to her being the only person in the city that doesn’t know kung-fu). That being said there were many times when she could’ve used her powers and didn’t leaving her as a bit more of a background character when she should’ve been front and center. We understand that Jessica doesn’t like to use her power if she doesn’t have to (and her flying ability has waned over the years since she rarely uses it), but when you have a team like this and only one female hero – use her. She can’t really fight – no problem, have her use her incredible strength to break people in two and show us all that she’s capable of.

Villains – We’ve said many times over the years that no one does villains quite like the Netflix Marvel universe, but The Defenders villain of Alexandra was the weakest of the bunch, especially when you stack her up against people like Kilgrave, Wilson Fisk and Gao. When we first were introduced to her and learned that she was dying we thought this was what was going to make her particularly dangerous villain since she had nothing to lose. Then we learned about her trying to find K’un-Lun to get a “substance” that would give her everlasting life and it took some of the air out of our tires.

The character of Alexandra wasn’t as scary as we first hoped she would be, and was even more disappointing when we learned she was the leader of the Hand and that we were going down that dusty road yet again. For us, stories involving the Hand have been extraordinarily dry, especially when you stack up this evil ninja empire (who are for the most part really bad at what they do) against people like Kilgrave or Fisk (arguably the two best Marvel villains in this universe). Alexandra came across as more of a 1970’s Bond villain constantly draped in white flowing garments more so than the leader of an evil empire. She couldn’t fight, had no super powers and spent a great deal of time hiding behind the Black Sky and running from every fight.

Tidbits we loved

  • Stick fighting Elektra while tied up to a pole, then chopping off his own hand to escape. Pretty bad ass.
  • Danny Rand’s fight scene in the boardroom – Finn Jones has said that his fighting has greatly improved from when he shot Iron Fist and it really showed in this scene. Danny and Luke fighting together… fantastic. Also, Danny using his ability to smash Elektra’s entire blade to pieces, so cool.
  • The the in-fighting between the superheroes – they did a great job showing us what the different fights would look like if this team wasn’t working together, but was instead up against each other and it was interesting to see who was evenly matched, and who would beat who one on one.
  • We loved the scene where Danny was tied up and Luke was watching over him. We saw the beginnings of their friendship, which if you are an avid comic book reader (spoilers ahead if you’re not!) you know develops into a best friendship to the point that Luke eventually names his daughter after Danny (Danielle).
  • There is hope for Luke and Jessica to rekindle their romance! Again if you are a comic book reader, you know where these two characters end up, and as much as we like Claire, we want to see Jessica and Luke back together again and Jessica’s comment about “getting a cup of coffee” with Luke tells us that it may be moving there sooner rather then later.

Over all, there was a lot to love about this show. It was fun, action packed and with it only being 8 episodes it didn’t feel drawn out like some of the individual Netflix hero series do. We were also left with an interesting set up for what will be Daredevil season 3 where everyone thinks that Matt is dead, but really he’s in some sort of convent barely clinging to life. Does this mean Elektra and Gao are also alive out there? As much as we like those characters, we are hoping the answer is no and that the story of the Hand is finally over once and for all. Time for our heroes to move forward and come together once again down the road for another threat that doesn’t involve hapless ninjas or a villain that doesn’t fight anyone. Season grade: B

What did you think of the first season of The Defenders and has it gotten you pumped for more? Leave us a comment in the box below with your thoughts.

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