The Avengers assemble next year, and the Justice League unites in the fall, but this summer, Marvel’s The Defenders will be taking the stage. It’s the culmination of Netflix’s longterm investment in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and most recently, Iron Fist. More importantly, it’s the biggest live-action superhero team-up in small screen history. Because it takes place over just eight episodes (or one week in the timeline of the show), The Defenders provides less room for individual character study while focusing on the strength of the crime-fighting collective.
Early reviews are very positive for the show, but a few critics have ragged on its inconsistent pacing (a theme which has seemingly plagued each of the Defenders' individual series). This highlights the biggest challenge facing The Defenders: how do you not only bring the four heroes together in a believable way, but how do they build trust fast enough to get the job done (again, in no more than a week)? The answer lies in the strength of the villain leading the war for New York, the mysterious Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver). It seems that her violence and meddling will distract audiences from the inner demons each of the Defenders so frequently fight.
Screen Rant spoke with Deborah Ann Woll about Karen Page’s part in the battle for the Big Apple. Though Woll revealed that Karen’s fragile relationship with Matt Murdock will be lightly explored in the show, Woll admitted The Defenders is less about personal development, and more about team spirit:
“I think it’s also good to remember that Defenders, because we’re bringing everybody together, it’s a little bit of a one-off, for lack of a better word. It’s going to kind of come together, solve this one big problem, and then you know we all have to go back to our own shows, so we don’t want to spend too much time of The Defenders kind of working on our interpersonal stuff. It’ll be interesting, and we’ll definitely address it, but you’re probably looking for Daredevil Season 3 in order for a really strong resolution to that stuff.”
That “one big problem” is very likely Sigourney Weaver’s leader behind The Hand. As Marco Ramirez, the co-showrunner for The Defenders teased, “The truth is she’s like the thing in the shadows who’s finally walking out.” Ramirez describes Alexandra’s presence as the big bad behind the enemies in Daredevil and Iron Fist, which features villains that always seemed a rung or two beneath the true power players “who are pulling the strings.”
Deborah Ann Woll thinks The Defenders is “going to be really fun,” but it seems the eight-episode arc may be best viewed as a vehicle for ushering in the second and third seasons for each member of the team. Charlie Cox offered a similar perspective at San Diego Comic-Con, where he pointed to the next season of Daredevil as the one to tie up loose ends.
With the vulnerable egos of Foggy Nelson and Karen Page waiting in the wings of season 3, it could be a while before audiences get any kind of relationship resolution in the heat of Hell’s Kitchen.
The Defenders premieres on August 18 on Netflix.