The Defenders: What we know about Netflix’s new superhero crossover
James R | On 29, Jul 2017
While the comic book world awaits Infinity War with baited breath, we’re more excited about Marvel’s plans for the small screen than the big screen – specifically, The Defenders. And more details about the new Netflix crossover event continue to arrive even after Comic-Con – you can watch the trailer shown at the panel here.
The show, which sees Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones), team up to save New York City, has been building for years, as Netflix and Marvel introduce each of their Hell’s Kitchen heroes in turn. This summer, they finally team up.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. Sigourney Weaver’s the villain
Our heroes will, of course, be uniting to face off against Sigourney Weaver, who plays the mysterious villain, Alexandra. She will have her own action sequences, co-showrunner Marco Ramirez originally teased, recalling how she told him she’s “never been a martial arts kind of gal” and is “more of a hold-the-flamethrower kind of gal”.
Now, though, we know more about Alexandra, after Weaver and Ramirez spoke to EW.
Described as more of an “adversary” than a Big Bad, Ramirez hinted about her resilient backstory: “She’s come up against a lot of different people — armies, mercenaries, devoted religious fanatics and all kinds of different groups — who have tried to take her down, but she’s never met four people who are seemingly just interested in taking care of this one little part of New York. I think she’s actually really charmed by it, and weirdly, because they’re unlike anybody she’s ever faced off against before, it’s intimidating to her.”
Self-preservation “at all costs” is her driving motivation, he explained: “She has the long game in mind, and she isn’t thinking about this chess game, she’s thinking about six chess games in the future… she’s seen a lot of beauty in humanity and in the world, but there are certain things that to her are expendable, and that’s a really dangerous worldview.”
Weaver added: “I try to avoid terms like ‘ice queen’ that are often thrown at women who aren’t completely sympathetic… I encouraged [them] to not think in those terms, because I find them completely meaningless, and to help me understand who I was from a really un-cliché-ed point of view. I think we succeeded in that.”
2. She might be connected with The Hand
Ramirez has since hinted that Alexandra might have something to do with The Hand, the organisation that has been repeated referred to and fought throughout Iron Fist and Daredevil.
“In Daredevil and Iron Fist, the two shows with the most references to the Hand, [characters] always say ‘Oh, there are players beyond [those we’ve met] that are bigger than this,’ or ‘There are people that work beyond this who are pulling the strings,'” he told EW. The truth is she’s like the thing in the shadows who’s finally walking out.”
That’s not a confirmation or a denial, but with Elektra returning for the show (either as a goodie or a baddie), there’s a strong chance that Alexandra will have something do with The Hand.
The only other clue Ramirez has offered up? “We chose [the name] ‘Alexandra’ because it sounded regal.” Go figure.
3. There’s no one in charge
Ramirez gave the LA Times some insight into how the quartet will interact together, insisting that there is “no official hierarchy” in the group.
“We get to lean into the messiness, and the haste, of these four all thrown together dealing and working professionally with each other,” he explained.
4. Matt Murdock isn’t a fan of Daredevil
Daredevil may be back in action this miniseries, but Matt Murdock isn’t his biggest fan anymore. Speaking to CinemaBlend, Charlie Cox gave an insight into his headspace:
“At the end of Daredevil Season 2, everyone failed. Matt failed, and the consequences were devastating. Six or so months have passed, and he’s had to completely reevaluate everything that he believes, everything that he does. And he’s decided to hang up the suit, as it were. He’s focusing all of his energies on being a pro bono lawyer. And I don’t think he has any interest, really, in being Daredevil anymore.”
Nonetheless, even if his relationship with Foggy is still damaged, something is clearly going to push him back into this superhero team-up.
“Of course, what we know about Matt is it’s like a drug to him, and I think whenever Matt is not doing that, his life becomes increasingly uncomfortable,” added Cox. “Because really, Matt Murdock is the lie with DD. He pretends to be blind. He pretends to use a cane. he pretends to find things with his hands. He’s living a lie as Matt Murdock. And so one of the things I love about that superhero, DD is the authentic one.”
5. The action will be character-driven
Each of our heroes brings their own baggage – and attitude – to the table. The fight sequences, therefore, will be driven by the character dynamics and styles introduced by their individual stories.
Ramirez and stunt coordinator Matt Mullins described it like this. While Daredevil, the trained boxer of the group, “wants every punch to be the last”, Luke Cage places defence on the team – “He’s the guy who will cover a child, he will use his body defensively” – while Jessica wants the fight to be over and “detests every part” – “That, as an attitude, is so much fun to watch once she’s fighting” – and Iron Fist is “kind of hot-headed, a little more naïve than the others. He’s very eager and gets himself into fights and bites off more than he can chew, a lot”.
“How will JJ make fun of everyone else in the room?’ was a primary focus at all times,” joked Ramirez. “In some ways she gets to be our Han Solo, the regular grounded person’s way into this world. I think one of the great joys of the show is watching them interact.”
6. It’ll be a “desperate war”
One key character interacting with the rest of the cast will be Scott Glenn’s Stick from Daredevil.
“It’s like Daredevil and Elektra are my kids and I essentially adopt them both, trained them to fight,” said Glenn when talking to AOL recently. “The written problem I have with Daredevil is the one line he won’t cross – taking human life. He’ll beat people up horrendously, put them in a hospital, do whatever he has to do but he won’t kill people. All I do is kill people. And working with the Chaste, I’m a blind assassin. I’m a Defender against the worst evil in the world and my only way of dealing with that is killing people. So it is a grey area kind of thing. I don’t think of myself as a bad person. But I don’t think of myself as a particularly good person either. And the way I work with that is that I’m a soldier in combat in a desperate war and that’s the way I have to behave.”
7. It will be fast-paced
We know this “desperate war” will involve The Hand – with Madame Gao confirmed to be in the series, played once again by Wai Ching Ho – but Finn Jones has also confirmed that the war will be desperate in more ways than one, as the whole of The Defenders takes place over just 48 hours.
Speaking at Houston’s Comicpalooza, Jones revealed that while most Marvel Netflix series span months or weeks, the crossover would be an intense story over a condensed timeframe.
“It takes place in a very short amount of time. It’s 8 episodes but it takes place over a couple of days. So it has this real-time frenetic energy to it which I think adds to the impending doom. So we’re all kind of brought together not through choice, but through necessity. We don’t want to work with each other but our backs are against the wall and we kind of have to,” he commented.
With only eight episodes on the cards, the result should be quick enough to counter the criticism of many Netflix superhero series that they drag in the middle.
8. Iron Fist will grow up
Despite that short window, though, you can still expect big developments on the character front. That’s particularly true when it comes to Danny Rand/Iron Fist, who Jones describes as becoming “much more mature” – a relief for those who saw Iron Fist and weren’t fans of his character.
“The thing with there with Danny is that we’re taking an ordinary kid with a lot of issues and we’re trying to iron those out first before getting to Danny as Iron Fist. And what we’ll in Defenders is Danny coming to terms with being a superhero. In the Defenders when he first starts, he doesn’t even know what a superhero is and then he meets those guys and he’s like ‘WHOA. This is cool,’ and by the end of it you kind of see Danny really coming to the grips with his responsibility in a much more mature way,” he said.
9. It will be light-hearted
If all that sounds like a lot of fun, then you’re on the right track. From Jessica Jones’ exploration of abusive relationships to Luke Cage’s hugely pertinent social commentary, the Hell’s Kitchen heroes to date have largely been accompanied by serious themes and sombre tones. The Defenders, though, will show us the light-hearted side of Netflix’s Marvel universe. Speaking at Denver Comic Con, Mike Colter told fans that the eight-episode series will have a “certain lightness to it”, describing it as a “summer mash-up of all four of us” that will be funny and that it is very much like a “summer popcorn thing”.
10. It lands in August
The Defenders will premiere on Netflix on 18th August. Head this way for the first full trailer.