Marvel and Netflix have come quite a long ways in the last two years. 2015 marked the first time the two companies debuted an original series together and the response to Daredevil showed just how special this partnership could be. They've since brought out a second season of the show, as well as debut seasons for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, with Iron Fist only two months away from hitting the streaming service. This has all been part of a larger plan from the beginning to see each hero operate on their own, before bringing them all together to fight a larger threat in The Defenders.
EW has given Defenders the spotlight this week by not only giving the first official look at Sigourney Weaver's villain, but also releasing a video of the four heroes together and subsequent official stills rounding out the cast. This is not the end of their coverage either, with an interview with Jeph Loeb now discussing the series' grounded approach and the potential for larger Marvel Cinematic Universe connections.
EW started off the interview with Loeb by asking him about the potential of "superhero fatigue" and how Defenders could play into that. Loeb is unsurprisingly dismissive of these claims and thanks the grounded nature of these series as a way to keep them and the genre fresh:
I don’t know that you’d be asking this question if we were a medical show or a law show or a cop show. I think the other part that separates us from, let’s just say, our distinguished competition, is that we take place in a very real, grounded world. We’ve always said that there is a fifth Defender, and that is New York.
Throughout the three different series Marvel and Netflix have previously made, they've made an effort to distinguish each section of New York from one another with a unique look or tone - but not so much as to make them feel disconnected. Thanks to said connective tissues between Marvel's Netflix shows, the ABC programs, and its films, each new addition to the MCU is expected by fans to have references to past events or other established characters. Loeb would not say whether this will be the case for Defenders, but promises that they look for opportunities like that when possible:
If the story warrants it, we will obviously do our best to have folks cross into each other’s story lines.
As much as any fan of the MCU would want Spider-Man or Coulson to appear in Defenders, it has to be an organic connection and not forced upon the show just for the sake of connectivity that makes them work. Smaller, more subtle references have worked for Netflix before, doing the best they can to not directly name drop characters or events. Instead passing references to "The Incident" and the global awareness of superheroes is good enough for most.
Sure, it would be great for something bigger to happen down the road, but Defenders already has a lot on its plate for eight episodes, so the focus should be on the team themselves, not so much bringing in other characters. And for those that can't wait to see the series, the wait has become a little more manageable with a summer release now confirmed.
Daredevil seasons 1 and 2, Jessica Jones season 1, and Luke Cage season 1 are now available on Netflix. Iron Fist will premiere on March 17, 2017. The Defenders and The Punisher will arrive in 2017. Premiere dates for the newest seasons of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage have not yet been announced.