Just a few years ago, Marvel audiences didn’t yet know Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, and now, they’re about to team up with Daredevil and Iron Fist for one epic showdown in the Big Apple.
When the four Netflix heroes unite in The Defenders to take on a new new threat, it’s sure to be one fun fight with the martial arts skills of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Danny Rand (Finn Jones) combined with the sheer strength of Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter). The four characters will meet for the first time when all of their solo adventures find them converging on one big mystery. We don’t know all of the details just yet, but we do know a lot about just where the story stands when the show picks up about six months after the events of Iron Fist.
The premiere is just around the corner, but not everyone is caught up on the goings on in the Netflix end of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. If you need a refresher, or if there’s one Marvel hero whose show you haven’t watched yet, we’ve got you covered. You’ll find everything you need for a crash course, with The Defenders: 15 Things You Need To Know Before Watching.
15 The Defenders Includes Far More Than The Core Four
The title characters in each of the previous Marvel Netflix series might make up the team known as the Defenders, but they aren’t the only familiar faces appearing in the series.
Also appearing? Jeri Hogarth and Claire Temple. Claire has become the glue holding the Netflix shows together, appearing in every season of every series so far, but Jeri has also crossed over from Jessica Jones into Iron Fist and Daredevil at this point, so expect to see plenty of them.
Oh, and Madame Gao will be along for the ride as well!
14 Only One Defender Has Mystical Powers
Though each of the four title characters have their own special abilities, most of them are the results of science fiction events. Daredevil’s abilities emerged after an accident with toxic chemicals, Jessica Jones discovered hers after an accident as well (though her series hinted that they could be the result of experimentation), and Luke Cage gained his thanks to some illegal experiments going on while he was in prison.
It is only Danny Rand who can claim magic as the root of his abilities. Danny, who battled a dragon and became the Iron Fist, has advanced martial arts skills and some serious powers in his one hand - as long as he can focus. Given that the trailers for the series seem to indicate some other mystical goings-on, Danny might wind up being more important in The Defenders than anyone first thought.
13 Stick’s War Is Here
Daredevil fans will remember that the title character’s mentor was spending an awful lot of time training him for a “war” that Matt didn’t think was actually coming. Stick seemed to indicate that the war involved The Hand’s Black Sky in the second season of the series, and Matt probably thought any possible wars were behind him once he dealt with ninjas climbing hospital walls and draining the blood of innocent people in building basements.
Not so fast.
Following Daredevil season two, if viewers tuned in for Iron Fist, they saw that The Hand was still plenty operational, and Colleen Wing was even almost set up for some blood draining of her own. The Hand was very much still out there and preparing for a fight.
The war that Stick has always alluded to, and that Colleen’s students were seemingly preparing for, is finally coming to New York. Just what exactly it will entail, we don’t know yet, but Stick seems to think the four Defenders are the only ones who stand a chance of bringing it to an end.
12 Alexandra Was Created For The Show
Sigourney Weaver is playing the adversary the four title characters will be going up against, but if you’re hoping to get some clues about her game plan from comic book pages, you’re out of luck.
According to press events out of San Diego Comic Con, Alexandra is not an existing comic book character. What we know about her is that she’s a powerful business woman who is pulling the strings behind the scenes - and that’s about it.
Showrunner Marco Ramirez has referred to Alexandra as “the thing in the shadows” previously referenced by members of The Hand, so we know she’s got a connection to the organization, and she could even end up being an amalgam of different comic book characters, but it seems that you won’t be able to pin her down in one specific storyline in existing comics.
11 The Hand Has More Than One Branch
It’s important to note that we’ve seen multiple versions of The Hand across the Netflix shows already. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage didn’t deal with The Hand, instead focusing on personal matters in their pasts. Both Daredevil and Iron Fist have major connections to the group, though they were very different.
Daredevil battled members of The Hand who were intent on bringing Black Sky to New York for a nefarious purpose. Meanwhile, Iron Fist was trained almost his entire life to go up against The Hand, whom he always thought were straight up bad guys, full stop. Colleen Wing, however, was taught that The Hand was like a found family, helping lost people find their purpose in the world. And at least one group of The Hand was also heavily involved in the drug trade thanks to the mysterious Madame Gao and her heroin.
What does this all mean? That it might not be quite so black and white as the heroes taking on the bad guys (The Hand) and saving the day. We could be seeing The Hand for many seasons to come in many different forms, not unlike what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did with the evolution of Hydra.
10 The Netflix MCU team has set up various websites for Easter Egg hunters and NY Daily Bulletin fans
Not necessarily on the show, but on the internet, there are plenty of connections between the characters thanks to the in-universe newspaper, the NY Daily Bulletin. Copies of the paper have been present on every show, and Daredevil character Ben Urich even wrote for it, as did Karen Page. The marketing team for the Netflix shows has set up the paper with its own website (which is really just a tumblr page).
That website not only features covers of papers that have appeared in the shows, but also advertisements for local businesses, like Colleen Wing’s dojo, whose website in turn also has a link to Ward Meachum’s LinkedIn page if you’re looking to go into business with him. The Daily Bulletin helps build on the world the shows already created, so if you’re looking for some fun, deep-cut Easter eggs, follow those links.
9 Jessica Jones Is Still A P.I.
Daredevil might be making newspaper headlines, and Luke Cage might be beloved in Harlem, but Jessica Jones isn’t feeling the superhero love just yet. The hard-drinking cynic is still a private investigator who doesn’t get the credit she’s due for saving her corner of New York from a mind-controlling supervillain.
In fact, it’s that cynicism that will likely keep the team grounded firmly in reality. When you’ve got a costumed vigilante, an indestructible man from the hard streets of NY, and a guy whose fist glows when he uses his mystical abilities, someone’s got to be there to bring them all back to reality.
Rumor has it that Jessica Jones won’t be entering the fray in The Defenders because she’s out to save the world, but because an investigation she’s working leads her straight into the paths of the other three.
8 Danny Rand And Colleen Wing Might Not Be In New York
Those who watched all 13 episodes of Iron Fist know that Danny and Colleen left the action of New York behind to find the entrance to the mystical city of K’un L’un, only to discover that the city had vanished. When The Defenders picks up, they still haven’t made it back to the city - or at least, Colleen hasn’t.
We don’t know exactly where they start their journey back to New York, but Jessica Henwick, who starred as Colleen in Iron Fist, revealed at Comic Con that not only was she not in New York when their story begins, but that Colleen would also be mourning a loss when the audience sees her again. Whether this is a loss the audience already saw in Iron Fist (the end of her relationship with her sensei and The Hand), or something new, isn’t clear.
7 Matt Murdock And Foggy Nelson Are On The Outs
When we last saw the law offices of Nelson and Murdock, the Nelson was no longer part of the equation, as a falling out with Matt led Foggy to take a job offer from Jeri Hogarth.
With Foggy now working alongside Hogarth and his old college flame Marci, it does raise the question of just how he enters the story. Foggy wanted to be able to help people in a way that didn’t leave them both broke or his best friend lying to him, while Matt was pretty much content to allow the law firm to be his cover story while he went out in a mask every night to save the city. It created a big divide between the two, so it seems unlikely that Foggy is suddenly going to show up at Matt’s door and tell him that the Iron Fist needs to speak with him - even though Matt decided to hang up his superhero suit after the events of the season.
6 Luke Cage Enters The Defenders From Prison
Unlike the other heroes, who ended their series heading out to accomplish new goals, Luke Cage was not a free man. Matt still had his law firm, Jessica was taking on new clients, and Danny was on a trip across the world, but Cage was back in prison.
Luke AKA Carl Lucas had escaped Seagate Prison in Georgia before making his way back to Harlem. To be fair, Carl was serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, and he was being beaten to a pulp in prison fights, and even then, he was being experimented on, so we can’t really blame him for skipping out when he had the chance. He did, however, have to serve time for that jailbreak - even after spending his season saving his neighborhood from bad guys.
We know that Luke was writing to Claire, and that the two were something of an item as recently as Iron Fist, so when he returns to the show, it’s likely going to be with her, not at the request of one of the other heroes.
5 The Threat Is Still Street Level
One story point has remained consistent through each of the previous shows: these heroes are out to save their corner of the world, not the whole planet. That idea is (thankfully) going to continue.
Just because the threat is big enough to unite these four super-powered people in New York doesn’t mean that they’re about to stop an apocalyptic level event. Those kinds of stories are typically going to play out on the big screen, like the Avengers taking on Thanos in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, or in a 22 episode, season-long arc of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where a longer tale can be told.
Whatever is going down will be (mostly) confined to their respective neighborhoods in New York, so don’t be on the lookout for anyone with any OP superpowers, like a Doctor Strange or Scarlet Witch level hero, to make an appearance.
4 Elektra Has Been Resurrected
Alexandra might be the big bad pulling the strings, but the face connected to those strings will be a familiar one for Daredevil fans, as Elektra is back.
She’s been seen in the previews for the upcoming series, even though most will remember that she was killed during the events of Daredevil’s second season. That’s because at least one faction of The Hand brought her back to life, which was teased when they sealed her up in that weird tomb thing in the final moments of season 2.
This won't be the Elektra audience have come to know and love, however. According to actress Elodie Yung, this undead version of the character is far more dangerous than she was before. She’s more violent, darker, and all around harder to beat. She’ll be a formidable foe for the heroes to take on now that she is The Hand’s Black Sky. Just what what she's capable of, however, remains to be seen.
3 IGH And Midland Circle Are A Big Deal
If you don’t recognize IGH or Midland Circle, that’s okay, you probably aren’t the only one. Both will play a role moving forward, though.
IGH is the name behind Jessica Jones’ hospital stay as a teenager following the car accident that killed her family. IGH payed for her medical expenses, and afterwards, Jessica suddenly had super strength. We don’t know just how it might connect to other heroes, like Luke Cage, who were also experimented on, but with Jessica continuing to look into it, we might find out in the near future.
Midland Circle, on the other hand, is a construction group that’s had a few mentions on the shows before now. You might remember them as the group responsible for leaving that massive hole in the ground in Daredevil. It’s the investigation of Midland Circle and just what that huge hole in the ground is for that will finally see the paths of the heroes converge, as each of them are looking into different mysteries that will bring them to the same place.
2 The Defenders Caps Netflix’s Phase One
Just like Marvel’s movies capped their first phase with The Avengers in a team up in New York, so too will Marvel’s Netflix series. But like their big screen counterparts, the shows' tales are far from finished.
Already greenlit is the first season of The Punisher, which filmed concurrently, so we probably won’t be seeing Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle pop up in The Defenders, though it’s not impossible. Second seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are a go as well, and have already begun filming. Marvel and Netflix also recently confirmed a season three for Daredevil and a second season for Iron Fist, so there’s plenty more Netflix heroism on the way. That does unfortunately give away the fact that all four heroes will make it through The Defenders in one piece, but hey, that's the MCU.
Comic book fans are curious to find out if Trish Walker’s Hellcat could get her own series, if we could see Misty Knight and Colleen Wing team up for Daughters of the Dragon, or if Luke Cage and Danny Rand will become besties for a Heroes for Hire series. So far, none of those potential spinoffs have been confirmed.
1 The Season Is Eight Episodes
Unlike the previous Netflix ventures with Marvel characters, The Defenders doesn’t sport the usual 13 episodes. Some fans might be bummed by the prospect of five fewer hours with the heroes, but it’s actually a good thing.
One of the most common criticisms of the four Netflix series thus far is the pacing; the first few episodes move slow as everything is introduced, and then, the series kick into high gear later. With only eight episodes, and all of characters already having plenty of backstory, that shouldn’t be a problem this time around. The audience should be able to get right into the nitty gritty of the story.
The entire eight-episode season will be available to stream on Netflix on August 18. There’s no word yet on whether or not the streaming site plans to unite the heroes in another mini-series, but hey, one step at a time, folks.
If you want even more of The Defenders teaming up, Marvel comics has also launched a new book with their version of the team. For the first time in print, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are united as the Defenders on the page as well. You can find the comic in stores now.
What else should fans know before The Defenders hits Netflix on August 18th? Let us know in the comments.