The Defenders showrunner explains why the series only ran for eight episodes. As of last Friday, the highly anticipated climax to phase one of Marvel's Netflix sub-universe became available for streaming, and the reaction so far from fans has been mostly positive. While it remains to be seen if another Defenders adventure will be in the cards, it seems safe to say that Netflix's first venture into the superhero team-up realm is a successful one.
One of the few complaints some fans had with The Defenders is its relative brevity, with the season running only eight episodes in length, as opposed to the usual 13. Of course, cutting the episode order from the usual amount is a double-edged sword, as some have found themselves wanting more, while others are pleased that The Defenders story was able to be told in a tighter way without some of the filler that sometimes creeps into regular Marvel seasons on Netflix.
During a recent interview with Collider, Defenders showrunner Marco Ramirez explained the reasoning behind only doing eight episodes of the big team-up event. To sum up, some of the reasons were creative, while others were purely logistical. Here's his full comment on the matter.
"It was actually also a lot about schedule, which is another thing that eludes people. We knew that we needed to have Mike [Colter] in the chair in his own show, and we knew we needed to have Krysten [Ritter] on her own show by a certain date, so we knew that we had this much time to shoot, no matter what we shoot and no matter how many episodes we needed to shoot. That was one factor.
Netflix and Marvel were both very flexible, in terms of how many episodes I pitched them. I actually had the writers' room for a while before we came up with the number eight. And then, we went in and said, "We can do this in eight episodes," and they were all systems go on it. That was really a testament to them, to be honest. There was never a quota we were trying to fill. We just wanted to tell a story that was satisfying, and I think these eight episodes are satisfying."
As Ramirez mentions, the issue of working around the production schedules for the solo Marvel/Netflix series is one many fans don't seem to take into account when discussing The Defenders' limited run. With new seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage all planned to arrive in 2018, Marvel Studios definitely couldn't afford to discontinue its current model of having more than one season in production at a given time. This is fairly easy to do when each hero can be on their own set, but is a lot harder to manage when the stars are needed for filming on both their solo adventures and The Defenders team-up.
The specific reasons behind it aside, the majority of people who've watched The Defenders seem to be satisfied with the outcome, proving that Ramirez and company were right to believe that they could "do this in eight episodes." Now, with the grand finale of phase one out of the way, Frank Castle waits in the wings to inflict his own brand of justice in The Punisher season 1, coming later this year.
The Defenders Season 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix, and The Punisher premieres later in 2017. Additional seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage are expected to air in 2018.