Sigourney Weaver wants Defenders fans to know Alexandra isn't a villain — or at least, in the traditional sense. Details about her character, the upcoming Marvel series' antagonist, have been kept tightly under wraps. All that's known is that she's the head of an ancient organization — potentially as The Hand's leader — and that she's a “a very powerful force in New York City” who is “sophisticated, intellectual, [and] dangerous.”
Whatever the specifics, she's certainly The Defenders' big bad — a sinister foe dangerous enough to force Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones together. But Weaver has been vocal that the role is far more complex than a plot point driving the streetwise anti-heroes together, and the same concept applies to semantics, too.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sigourney made clear that Alexandra was an "adversary," not a villain, as female enemies are too often limited to traits of ruthlessness and cruelty without exploring them in more depth. She explained:
“With my work in general, I try to avoid terms like ‘ice queen’ that are often thrown at women who aren’t completely sympathetic. I encouraged [the writers] 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.”
Showrunner Marco Ramirez told the outlet that Weaver's character should instead be called a "survivor," since she's successfully withstood numerous "armies, mercenaries, devoted religious fanatics and all kinds of different groups" throughout her career. And while she's charmed by The Defenders "because they’re unlike anybody she’s ever faced off against before," she has a savage, cutthroat worldview that makes her a more merciless opponent than most:
"Above all else, she cares about living. She’s about self-preservation, and self-preservation at all costs… 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. As such, I think 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."
Once again, that doesn't provide much in regards to who Alexandra is or what her motivations may be, but it certainly demonstrates what she's capable of - and it sounds like the Hell's Kitchen vigilantes will have their work cut out for them.
The Defenders will be available for streaming on Netflix starting August 18.