Hate Is a Strong Word: ‘The Defenders’ Ep 1-4

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Marvel set a tone for their mature Netflix series beginning with Daredevil, Jessica Jones and the somewhat lukewarm Luke Cage. Accompanying that tone was a level of hype and anticipation with each new series. It’s peak definitely soared with the groundbreaking debut of Cage’s edition. Sadly it was missed with the tumultuous release of the latest hero-for-hire — Iron Fist. 

I never witnessed the sham of a series, and for good reason. Apart from the firestorm around the casting of Finn Jones over an actual Asian American actor, fans and critics alike panned the show’s writing and the performance of Jones. With that bad taste in the proverbial mouth, excitement for the The Defenders — the Avengers-like mashup of our four anti-heroes — fell flat. At least for me, I found myself unmoved by the teaser and subsequent trailers that followed.

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But I put those preconceived notions aside and sat to view the August 18 debut. And I must say, the feelings of magenta (Blanche Devereaux reference) I had throughout the rollout persisted in the first four episodes. It isn’t terrible, but it’s not great.

Given I have no knowledge of Iron Fist’s narrative, any parts with him and Colleen Wing fall flat. Especially the opening of them trying to defeat a masked assassin of The Hand. As they follow their nemesis across the world, we’re reacquainted with Hell’s Kitchen’s devil, Manhattan’s sleuth and Harlem’s Power Man. I honestly am only interested in Jessica’s solo pieces, given her one season has risen above the fray as a whole compared to DD’s three and Luke’s one. As slow as it takes for the foursome to finally cross paths, hers is the only tale with sustaining power.

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Now the reason our heroes must Voltron up — Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra. She and the collective four fingers of The Hand have descended upon New York City to wreck havoc. They’ve even resurrected dear Elektra as The Black Sky to assist in burning the city to the ground. Weaver’s Alexandra commands each scene, with her Olivia Pope White capes and Maleficent cool evil. If she does have fears, they are few as she is the perfect stoic opponent.

The fight scenes are nice. We get the hallway scene from the trailer as Hand footmen attack on every hand. We also see familiar faces from each series, including Foggy and Karen – both leading different lives; Trish and Malcolm each keeping tabs on their best friend; Misty and Claire exchanging notes over actual coffee; and, finally Colleen — who is the Wendy to Jones’ Inspector Gadget of an “Immortal Iron Fist.”

Hopefully the next four episodes choose action over dialogue, delivering a somewhat menacing shift in the narrative that affects this side of the MCU realm.

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