The level of quality that the Netflix / Marvel duo have demonstrated is that of the common lover: starts at the top of their game to win you over, then slowly but surely becomes lazy, lethargic, and complacent because it realizes it no longer needs to try for you to stay.
Daredevil Season 1 was close to episodic perfection.
Jessica Jones was very dark and enthralling.
Daredevil Season 2 was good, but not great.
Luke Cage was just okay.
..and I honestly could not conjure up any sort of desire to finish Iron Fist.
Thus, we have the conjoining of all of the effort that Netflix/Marvel have put into the last two years. That conjoining is The Defenders.
… and boy oh boy was it ever underwhelming.
Unsurprisingly, the best scenes were with Matthew Murdock, played of course by the fantastic Charlie Cox. Almost every single time the show cut to his story, I was almost immediately more invested. Unfortunately, nothing in his story breaks into a realm of amazement, but at least he carried the show better than anyone else.
Danny Rand / Iron Fist, played by Finn Jones, was about as interesting as a piece of 5-day
old, stale Texas Toast. Honestly guys, I’ve tried so hard to give Rand every chance to win me over, but it never happened. I wouldn’t necessarily call Finn Jones a bad actor, but his character is so uninteresting, so unchallenging, and so cookie-cutter that it is almost impossible to be excited about seeing him on screen. The only times he is interesting is when his character is challenged by Murdock, Jones, or Cage. When there’s no one to contrast him, he does absolutely nothing for the story.
Sigourney Weaver gets by with the natural talent she exudes, but there’s nothing about her character that’s exceptional. What’s worse is that she undermines the power, eeriness, and mystique about the villainous Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) by making Gao an underling.
What made Madame Gao such a compelling character was that she held such authority over anyone that stood by her or stood in her way. With Alexandria (Weaver) at the helm, all of this authority is taken away from Gao, and Alexandria doesn’t do enough to compensate where Gao is no longer interesting.
All of the side characters are fine.
Stick was okay.
Claire, Misty Knight, and Foggy Nelson were all underutilized.
Colleen Wing was excruciatingly over-utilized.
That Asian villain was cool enough.
Anyone else I’m forgetting?
Oh yeah, Elektra. Here’s my summary of how I feel about Elektra:
The fighting sequences in the show were all done pretty well. 1st place obviously goes to Daredevil, but that’s because we care most about his character.
Luke Cage and Iron Fist were both fun to watch because at least their powers and abilities are definable.
When it came to combat, surprisingly the weakest link was Jessica Jones, and that’s because the show seemed to change the strength of her abilities whenever the plot demanded.
She knows no martial arts, but that doesn’t seem to get in the way of creaming enemies that aren’t boss-level characters (even though all of the bad guys are martial artists). She can’t get out of handcuffs apparently, but she’s strong enough to lift an elevator cart with three people in it.
At the beginning of the show, when all the characters are still separated, the show made a painstaking effort to color-code the scenery in every scene. Daredevil’s scenes are mostly in a red tint. Jessica Jones was in blue. Luke Cage was all yellow. And Iron Fist’s backgrounds were green.
At first, I thought this was kind of cool and subtle. But then they did it for every single scene, and after three full episodes, it became extremely forced and tacky. By the time they all group together, there’s some clever scenes with combined lighting, but for the most part, it is mostly forgotten.
The plot is extremely standard with almost no surprises except for one or two midway through the show. The premise is largely uncompelling, and it doesn’t take enough chances to feel special, new, or worthwhile.
The show made it extremely hard to believe any of our heroes were in any sort of danger. I mean what were they going to do? Kill off one of the title characters? Nobody actually thinks any of these heroes are vulnerable to death, and that’s why it was so necessary for the show to take risks in other areas. But there are almost no instances where our heroes feel any sort of deep pain. Any sort of pain our characters do go through is either extremely temporary or a dramatic pretense.
The action’s good, the dialogue is acceptable, and most of the performances work well enough. However, The Defenders doesn’t bring enough to the table to compensate for all of its flaws or its lukewarm elements. It’s certainly a fun series that has enough in their to be watchable, but if you’re expecting a quality caliber of the first Daredevil season, then you will be majorly disappointed.
There’s nothing about the season that will stick with me, and there’s nothing about the season that made me excitedly longing for more. Should you watch it? Sure. But don’t expect anything about the series of events to blow you away.
5 out of 10.