There are other culprits that even the combined might of The Defenders can't overcome and chief among them is overall Marvel Netflix fatigue. Between two seasons of Daredevil, one season of Jessica Jones, one season of Luke Cage, and one season of Iron Fist all leading up to The Defenders, fans would have had to commit to watching 65 hours of television to feel like they're 'all caught up' on the complete story heading into The Defenders. The thought of "I haven't even finished the other series yet!" crossed the minds of many fans in the days prior to August 18th. 65 hours of 'required' TV to watch as preamble to The Defenders' 8 hours is a lot to ask, even of diehard Marvel fans. By contrast, before The Avengers first assembled in 2012, fans only had to have seen Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger before getting to the main event super team up - a relatively more reasonable 10 hours of viewing to get the full story.
What's more, with the disparate personalities and backgrounds of the four heroes, fans naturally gravitate towards one Defender in particular they enjoy more than the others. Hardcore comics fans seemed to love Daredevil the best, with season 2 being especially enjoyable by pitting Ol' Hornhead against Elektra (Elodie Yung) and The Punisher (Jon Bernthal). Jessica Jones' hard-boiled detective story mixed with intense psychological drama really spoke to female fans, while Luke Cage inspired numerous think pieces on black identity and the importance of a bulletproof black hero. While it was cool seeing them come together as the Defenders, each hero seems to have developed their own loyal fanbase eager to see their favorite get to their next season of TV to continue their individual story. The Defenders felt like a one-off, and was even treated as such by the superheroes.
Furthermore, in the post-Avengers world, seeing a bunch of superheroes team up on screen has lost its novelty. Since 2012, we've seen the Avengers assemble a second time, then come to blows in a Civil War. That's just on the Marvel side; DC fans have put Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck) at odds, then teamed them with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), before imminently introducing the Justice League. What was mind-blowing in 2012 because we'd simply never seen it before is now routine in 2017, and seeing superheroes team up and/or fight each other has a 'been there, done that' stigma to it now. It's not that The Defenders didn't do the superhero team up well, it's that it just isn't very special anymore.
The 'Iron Fist Effect' on The Defenders might be better gauged by how well Iron Fist season 2 ultimately does. Whether the addition of Misty Knight (Simone Bissick) to the cast and the potential set up for Daughters of the Dragon with Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) gets the anti-Danny Rand brigade excited remains to be seen. Also completely up in the air right now is whether there will even be a second season of The Defenders, be it with the original lineup or a new group of heroes. The Defenders is an expensive and logistically daunting production to undertake so with the less-than-spectacular results of this first team up, Marvel and Netflix might be content to just focus on its existing solo series, which now includes The Punisher.
Blaming Iron Fist for The Defenders' lower-than-desired viewership actually means blaming someone other than the fictional Danny Rand. Perhaps the real culprit is the man who was the showrunner of Iron Fist, executive producer Scott Buck. When it comes the poor writing and decision-making involved in Iron Fist, the buck stops at Scott Buck's door. Though Buck had nothing to do with The Defenders, the damage was done to Iron Fist well before he joined up with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Further proof of how unsuitable Buck is to oversee a Marvel property can be seen with Inhumans, which is poised to take the crown of The Biggest Marvel Disappointment from Buck's prior project, Iron Fist. (Inhumans is now potentially only going to last one season on ABC, and it hasn't even aired on the network yet.)
All told, even if their ratings are lower than hoped for, the Defenders can thank their lucky stars they never had to team up with the Inhumans.
Do you blame Iron Fist for The Defenders' low ratings? Did not finishing the prior Marvel Netflix series prevent you from checking out The Defenders? Let us know in the comments!