Catching up with Netflix’s ‘The Defenders’

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All images by Marvel and Netflix.

On Friday, August 18, Netflix teams the stars of their four Marvel series–Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand–in The Defenders, based in some part upon the comic team-up of the same name.

It has been nearly two and a half years since the first of these solo series, Daredevil, was released. Perhaps it’s been a while since you visited Netflix’s version of New York and the street-level heroes protecting the city. Maybe you skipped one series or another (I’m looking at you, Iron Fist). Not to worry. We have your back. Get caught up with the individual Defenders and with what we expect from the team-up series before binging your way through the weekend.


The last time we saw Matt Murdock, he and former “Black Sky” (The Hand’s ultimate weapon), Elektra, had gone all-in with Stick in his war against The Hand. Elektra was killed, but her body was recovered by the evil ninjas and placed in one of the cult’s resurrection chambers. With The Hand featuring prominently in Iron Fist, it’s a good bet that the team will be joining Daredevil in Stick’s war in The Defenders.

Other Connections:

  • Matt’s former law partner, Foggy Nelson, has left Murdock & Nelson over Matt’s secret vigilantism, now working for Jessica Jones legal ball-buster Jeri Hogarth.
  • We were first introduced to Claire Temple in Daredevil season one, when a badly-wounded Matt turned up in a dumpster outside Claire’s apartment. Over the two seasons of Daredevil, the two have forged a mutual respect, if not friendship.
  • After uncovering Madame Gao’s heroin operation in season one, Daredevil went to the mysterious woman for help in finding and taking down Gao’s drugdealing rival, The Blacksmith, in season two. Who is Gao and what is her motivation? I still don’t know, but the way she moves from taunting our heroes to dispensing wisdom to the heroes makes her, for my money, the most interesting figure in the whole shared Marvel/Netflix universe.

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones has remained mostly out of sight since killing Kilgrave at the end of Jessica Jones season one. Her relationship with Luke Cage was left strained after Jessica confessed to killing Luke’s wife Reva while Jones was under Kilgrave’s control. One can only imagine that Jessica is keeping a low profile, freelancing for Hogarth while attempting to pull her life back together now that Kilgrave is out of the picture.

Other Connections:

  • The person most directly connecting Jessica to the rest of the team is Luke Cage. It will be interesting to see whether Luke has forgiven Jessica for Reva’s murder or not, and how their shared history will inform their relationship in The Defenders.
  • Throwing another wrench in the Jessica-Luke relationship is Claire, everybody’s favorite nurse to the heroes.

Luke Cage

After dealing with a pair of snakes in Harlem–Cottonmouth and Copperhead–Luke was last seen surrendering to the NYPD and peacefully going back to prison to finish serving his time. We assume that Luke has done his time when we meet back up with him in The Defenders, and that Claire is waiting for him so they can go get that cup of coffee.

Other Connections:

  • As if his relationships with Jessica and Claire weren’t going to be complicated enough, we have Luke’s connection with Misty Knight to figure into play.

Iron Fist

Oh, Danny. When we left the Iron Fist, he and former Hand member (what’s with the good guys falling for former Hand ladies in training?) Colleen had journeyed to K’un-Lun, only to find the gates to the mystical city breached. Once torn between guarding K’un-Lun and eradicating The Hand, it’s a good bet that if Iron Fist is in The Defenders, then he’s doubled-down on the latter.

Other Connections:

  • Claire received more screen time in Iron Fist than in any other solo series. It’s a good bet that Claire will be the driving force behind uniting the four heroes early in The Defenders.
  • Like Claire, Madame Gao received more screen time in Iron Fist than in two seasons of Daredevil. It’s a good bet that Gao will play an important role in The Defenders. Will she be an obstacle to the heroes, or give them what they need to overcome The Hand? In a word: yes.
  • Perhaps the interactions between Colleen Wing and Misty Knight will sow the seeds for an eventual Daughters of the Dragon series, based in some part on the Marvel comic series of the same name.

Our Early Predictions

Expect tension in the group. There are a lot of clashing personalities and complicated histories between some of these characters. As Luke says in the various trailers, “I’m not looking for super-friends.”

We know it’s coming. It’s a staple with these shows. We’ve seen pieces of it in the various trailers. Let’s go ahead and put it out there. Hallway. Fight. Scene.

Again, we’ve seen it hinted at from the earliest teaser trailers, but The Defenders has to be about Stick’s war against The Hand. How Stick handles this mismatched collection of individuals will likely provide dark humor and snark. I can’t wait for Stick and Jessica to get into a war of words.

I hope I’m wrong, but based on Daredevil season two and the first seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, I’m guessing that we’re going to get a mid-season villain switcheroo. Daredevil started with The Punisher as the main antagonist before becoming all about The Hand in the back half of the season. Luke Cage went from Cottonmouth, who was a really interesting, if underdeveloped, villain to Copperhead, who was a flat, two-dimensional bad guy. Iron Fist was so all over the place, it might have been hard to notice, but we moved from Harold Meachum to a Madame Gao-led branch of The Hand to Bakuto over the course of 13 episodes. In each of the three cases above, the move gave the season in question a disjointed feeling. I’m hoping for the best (no switcheroo), since The Defenders is only eight episodes long, but preparing for the worst.

Expect 75% of this series to be really good. Expect the other 25% to involve Iron Fist.

Lingering Questions

Will Stone, who Stick is seen speaking with at the end of Daredevil season one, episode seven, figure into The Defenders? One would think that if this is the big battle in Stick’s war against The Hand that we’ve been building toward, then you wouldn’t leave someone like Stone sitting on the sidelines.

What’s with this big hole The Hand dug under an abandoned warehouse? Nobu was all about securing this property as a part of The Hand’s dealings with Wilson Fisk way back in Daredevil season one.  Once The Hand obtained the property, they excavated a big hole. Much bigger than anything they needed it to be in Daredevil season two.

Who is Alexandra? What is her connection to The Hand? So far, we’ve seen Nobu, Madame Gao, and Bakuto as leaders of various factions within The Hand. Who is this gaijin and what is her role in this ancient order?

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out whether our expectations are met and whether or not these questions are answered. All eight episodes of The Defenders will be released Friday, August 18.

Get Your ‘The Defenders’ Fix at GeekDad and GeekMom

Get to Know Some Heroes: The Defenders by Shiri Sondheimer

Daredevil Cosplay by Shiri Sondheimer

Photo courtesy of Shiri Sondheimer.
Photo courtesy of Shiri Sondheimer.

Jessica Jones Cosplay by Billy the Brick Cosplay

Photo courtesy of Will James.
Photo courtesy of Will James.

Will and Shiri will be teaming up at Emerald City Comicon 2018 as The Defenders. They are still looking for a Luke Cage and an Iron Fist.

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