Unsurprisingly, the recently released first trailer for Marvel and Netflix’s The Defenders has been met with a wave of fan chatter and speculation. Along with showing the team of four come together and kick ass, among the footage are several recurring characters from the previous four series, confirmation of Elektra’s return, and, most intriguingly, some short snippets of Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra, the series’ main antagonist.
Since the announcement of her involvement at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Marvel has been keeping the details Weaver’s role under very strict lock and key. Aside from what’s seen here, only one other official image has been released of her in a skyscraper overlooking the New York skyline, with another couple of set photos that all confirm little else other than she’s rich, powerful and we’ll be seeing her ride around in a limo.
There’s good reason for Marvel and Netflix’s secrecy on the matter – her being the big bad of their whole deal so far essentially makes her the TV equivalent of the movies’ mega-villain Thanos, and they’ve invested five seasons leading us to her and the Defenders squaring off. With the way audiences digest and pore over every new detail, particularly for big crossovers like this one, a single sentence or image could give away some pivotal information about her, and spoil a critical story-point for the eight-episode season. Despite 62 episodes of long-form story-telling setting up each of our heroes and the threat of the Hand, there has been (as far as we know) no mention of Weaver’s Alexandra.
She’s also apparently a wholly original character created to be the villain for this first phase of the Defenders. The first official image of her came with the news that she has no comic book history, with showrunner Marco Ramirez coyly stating she’s “a very powerful force in New York City” and “sophisticated, intellectual, dangerous.” Original characters aren’t a totally new concept for Marvel Studios – several of the cast of Agents of SHIELD were purpose-made for that series – but this is the first time one has been so prominent. If it proves true that she is totally original, Alexandra will likely be a litmus test for fan reaction to original characters being given centre-stage roles in Marvel grand plans and a sign to expect more in Netflix and beyond.
From the limited times she’s visible in the trailer, little more information can be gleamed. Both the Hand and Elektra (Élodie Yung) are playing big roles, and there’s an assumption that Alexandra is involved in both, but the ending of Iron Fist hints at an ulterior role. There’s been some speculation that Alexandra will turn out to be a gender-flipped Alexander Bork, a rival Kingpin to Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), who hasn’t taken kindly to the Hand and Madame Gao’s way of doing things. Minus the “no comic book history” part (which could easily be a bit of misdirection), the description fits with the ongoing tensions that have been building within the various Defenders’ shows since the first season of Daredevil.
Although it could easily be racked up to mere clever editing, it’s hinted that Alexandra has some superpowers of her own. A sequence of cars being rumbled by an earthquake and our team of heroes being thrown around by some telekinetic force is followed by a shot of Weaver turning around to face the camera. Nobody established in Marvel’s Netflix-verse has that kind of power, and unless the opening of the sarcophagus containing Elektra is suddenly spring-loaded with earth-shaking mystical energy, it seems too apparent a connection to be a coincidence. Having powers on that scale would easily put Alexandra above each of the Defenders in terms of strength and ability, making their teaming up all the more necessary and dramatic.
No doubt Marvel is aware that all eyes will be fixed on Sigourney Weaver and Alexandra as we get closer and closer to the Defenders hitting the streets on August 18th. An actor with Weaver’s pedigree becoming part of the little sibling to the big blockbuster MCU is a pretty incredible thing, and not something Marvel TV is taking lightly. With the Alien star playing her, Alexandra was always going to be a massive presence, and the mystery surrounding the character makes her all the more intriguing. Even her one major line is exciting, telling the Defenders the closer they get, the easier it will be for her to destroy them. Whoever she is, she looks to be a formidable final boss.