Though it’s not set to debut until next month, early reviews for Marvel and Netflix’s superhero team-up miniseries the Defenders are already starting to drop, and so far critics are mostly on board with the direction of the show. Defenders will mark the first time protagonists from Netflix’s solo Marvel shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) will all share the screen together and will serve as Marvel’s small screen counterpoint to their big screen team-up film series The Avengers.
Naturally, this means that Marvel and Netflix have a lot riding on Defenders, which, thanks to vital information revealed in the newest trailer, will seemingly focus on the team’s fight with The Hand and their possible leader Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) as well as a newly resurrected Elektra. Jon Bernthal’s Punisher will also be appearing in the show ahead of the debut of his own solo series, though it’s still unknown how large of a role his character will play.
With the review embargo on Defenders lifting today, several sites have already started posting reviews for the first four episodes (of eight) of the show. You can check out spoiler-free excerpts from various websites below.
Collider – Allison Keene
If you thought Defenders would be a culminating chapter to the other Netflix Marvel series so far, think again. So far it feels like another prelude, and it makes one wonder if we’ll ever get to the main event.
Empire – Dan Jolin
Even so, there is enough joy in watching the sparks fly as these four alpha characters finally collide to make you feel The Defenders might just have been worth the wait. It's a long-anticipated crossover series that delivers some engaging character clashes, but which fails — in the first half at least — to up the ante story-wise.
We Got This Covered – Robert Yaniz Jr.
While the show starts as something of a slow burn, once the heroes come together, it more than lives up to the promise fans have been clamoring to see realized. It may not be the strongest Marvel Netflix series thus far (that would be a toss-up between Daredevil and Jessica Jones), but The Defenders splits the differences between its leads, creating something that even casual fans of these shows shouldn’t miss.
io9 – Katharine Trendacosta
It sounds like an insult to say that The Defenders is exactly what you thought it would be, but it isn’t. It’s a show that’s very aware of the expectations put upon it and the problems encountered by the other Marvel Netflix shows, and it knows how to best utilize its cast and its time. In other words, it’s great.
Decider – Brett White
The Defenders feels like a true hybrid, the sum being impossibly more enthralling than its charismatic parts. You can practically see the sparks flying as soon as these rock solid characters strike against each other. You see just how good each performer is in their respective role once they’re put in context of the other three.
ComingSoon – Jenna Busch
For fans, this is definitely worth a watch, though getting to the actual story might be frustrating for some. When the team up finally does happen, it’s pretty satisfying. If you haven’t seen all the other series, fear not. A lot of time is spent explaining. Hopefully we can let that go in the second half.
While most of these reviews are definitely leaning toward the positive side, they all seem to share one complaint: pacing. This has certainly been a common complaint among all of the other Marvel/Netflix solo shows from critics and fans, but with a leaner eight episodes (compared to the thirteen episodes the solo shows utilized) it’s a little surprising that Defender seems to fall into the same narrative trap.
Still, after the overwhelmingly negative critical reception to Iron Fist earlier this year, mostly positive reviews for Defenders is a huge step in the right direction for Marvel. In fact, most reviews seem more positive toward Iron Fist’s Danny Rand character (Finn Jones) than they did in his respective solo outing. With a second season confirmed for Iron Fist, this is certainly a step in the right direction for the Rand character as well.
Source: Various (see links)