With the premiere of The Defenders, the original Marvel/Netflix plan has come to a close as Phase 2 of the street-level corner of the MCU prepares to start. But while the model used for the series closely resembles that employed by the films, there’s no guarantee that a second season of The Defenders will arrive in a few years time. In fact, we’ve heard multiple times that this was a one-off show. Still, it was also a big hit for Netflix and still bears the Marvel name. As such, it’s not hard to imagine the upcoming season of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and even The Punisher eventually feeding into a new season of The Defenders.
Like with this season, it will likely take a big threat to pull together so many disparate heroes who dislike teamwork. We could once again see villains and plots from each show come together for a new supergroup, but there’s also plenty of new teams of villains that could be brought over from the comics. There’s even every possibility that the story of season 1 of The Defenders will echo across Phase 2 of each show before presenting a new challenge to the assembled heroes. Regardless of what will happen, we have a few strong candidates for villains for The Defenders to face if they receive a second season.
These days, the Thunderbolts in Marvel Comics is a group of reformed criminals usually corralled by a hero or two. Like DC’s Suicide Squad, they run black ops government missions to gain their freedom. But they didn’t start out that way.
Debuting in 1997’s The Incredible Hulk #449, the Thunderbolts would go on to have their own solo title later in the same year. Presented as a new group of superheroes, it was eventually revealed that the team was in fact a bunch of disguised villains led by Baron Zemo. As part of a plan to fill the gap left by a number of vanished/killed heroes, Zemo’s team stepped in to save the day and worm their way into the superhero community.
Once the scheme was uncovered, however, many of the criminals realized they preferred being on the side of good. This led to the modern incarnation of the team, as an attempt to reform supervillains. Many of the original members, like Songbird (fka Screamin' Mimi) and Mach-X (fka the Beetle) have continued to serve as heroes over the years and assist the new Thunderbolts.
Not only is the idea of the Thunderbolts perfect for a Netflix show, but season 2 of The Defenders would be a great place to see a version of their original story told. From there, an amalgamation of their different comic book incarnations could appear in a standalone series, with Luke Cage leading Punisher, Elektra, Ghost Rider, and more.
Who better for The Defenders to fight in a new season than the first villain the team ever battled in the comics. Of course, they had a much different lineup back then. When The Defenders first formed in the pages of 1971’s Marvel Feature #1, the team consisted of Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and Namor. Soon, Silver Surfer joined as well. Given their combined power level, it makes sense that their enemy was more than a bunch of ninjas and immortal entrepreneurs.
The team first battled Yandroth, an alien with the title Scientist Supreme who over time began incorporating magic with is tech. While fantastical, it’s not hard to see a variation on the character introduced as a threat. He could even ally himself with other mystical threats the comic book Defenders have faced, such as Umar and the Nameless One. Combined, they could make for a magical and demonic supervillain syndicate that would be perfect for The Defenders if they bring in heroes such as Ghost Rider and Moon Knight. And though all the sorcery may seem at odds with the aesthetic of the Marvel Netflix shows, it’s actually par for the course.
In the movies, Marvel has only just begun touching on the mystical. The supposedly grounded Netflix shows, however, have been unabashedly weaving in magic for the past two years. While Doctor Strange’s abilities, everything to do with Asgard, and the lore around Ghost Rider have all been presented as advanced science, no one has attempted to rationalize the Iron Fist’s world or the supernatural enemies Daredevil has faced.
From Danny’s powers to the reanimation of the Hand to the existence of dragons, The Defenders once again presented multiple magical elements at face value. With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine Yandroth, Umar, and other magical and demonic threats clashing with The Defenders in the future.