Where The Defenders Went So Wrong

In fairness, I am not sure it ever went right (sad but true)

I was pretty excited about this, until I watched it (Netflix)

I really wanted to love The Defenders.

I tried, I really (really) tried. I even wrote recaps of the first two episodes and even convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad. But then, I noticed that it took me almost two weeks to make it through the third episode (kept starting it and not finishing it…or falling asleep trying to finish it).

So, I took stock, and realized that I wasn’t really enjoying watching the series. And then, as I kept forcing myself through the episodes, I realized I kind of was starting to actively dislike it.

Why was it so unpleasant:

5. The cinematographer REALLY likes darkness way too much. Every fight scene might as well have been staged in a cave (except for the first all-Defenders fight in Alexandra’s office). Either they REALLY like the idea of nobody being able to see what was going on OR they were trying to save money on fight choreography (I am betting on the latter).

4. They replaced the most compelling villain with the least compelling villain.

Look, this isn’t gendered, I LOVE Jessica Jones and I love Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, but I hate Elektra. I thought she almost ruined Daredevil Season 2 and she managed to make The Defenders really boring too.

Sigourney Weaver was having so much fun making the wooden dialog seem interesting that it was a shockingly bad idea to have her killed and replaced by Elektra. There has never been one moment when I thought Elektra was badass or interesting. I am sure Elodie Yung is a really nice person and maybe even (in a different role) a good actress but she just isn’t interesting in the MCU.

3. There was only one edgy or interesting moment that I can remember.

Power Man (Netflix)

In episode 3, Luke Cage lectures Danny Rand about white privilege. By far the best and most memorable moment of the entire series. There was real tension and it was well acted and written (at least compared to the rest of the show). Of course, right after this, they send Luke after the only Black Member of the Hand (sigh) but still a good moment.

Why so little Jessica Jones and so Much Iron Fist? (Netflix)

Jessica Jones, a truly interesting character, was reduced to a few sarcastic quips. I also found myself wanting more Misty Knight, Luke Cage, and Madame Gao and less of virtually everyone else (I loved DD but mostly because of Kingpin, Stick, Foggy, Karen, and The Punisher).

2. The dialog was PAINFUL. In fact, not since the Star Wars prequels can I remember dialog being so wooden and unnatural. It was kind of like watching actors unsuited to David Mamet trying to fight through Glengarry Glen Ross (but with much less at stake and nothing even close to as interesting).

At least the logo is kind of cool? (Netflix)

And finally, 1. Whose idea was it to make the entire plot centered around Danny Rand?

Iron Fist is by far the least interesting and most boring Defender. In fact, he is so uninteresting and boring that even the writers were making jokes at his expense (which could have salvaged things if everyone in the cast would have committed to it).

Given how silly his power set is (he has a really powerful punch) you would have to have a truly magnetic actor to pull it off and Finn Jones just isn’t that good as Iron Fist.

Plus, I don’t know one person who liked Iron Fist (not just me, check the Rotten Tomatoes score and reviews). Why would you take, by far, the least popular character in your universe and put them at the center of the plot?

Also, why was there such a concerted effort to show off his chest tattoo in almost every scene (not that important, but I am honestly curious)?

And to think, I had to put up with an entire season of Iron Fist just so we could get to ‘The Defenders.’ Man I wish we had just gone straight to Daredevil Season 3 and Jessica Jones Season 2 (I did enjoy Luke Cage, so maybe Iron Fist could have just showed up on Luke’s show?).

What did you think? I am probably being a little harsh, but I really still have only barely been able to watch the whole thing once through (which is crazy, these are mostly characters that I love).

Josh is a 100% reader-funded blogger and freelance writer. Please consider following him on Twitter, throwing a tip into his hat on Patreon, or adding his blog OnPirateSatellite to your feeds. Support writing on platforms like Medium that don’t have pop-ups or bloatware!

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Josh H

Josh H


Author, Criminal Justice Reform Advocate, Co-Host of the "Decarceration Nation" Podcast, Television critic and Movie Reviewer, OnPirateSatellite.com