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Netflix's The Defenders

The Indefensible ROSSMAN

Back when Marvel came up with their cinematic universe and their idea for "Phase 1" (being them putting out solo movies for Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Cap'n Amurica, and then having the entire experience culminate into a giant Avengers party) seemed too incredibly awesome to be true, people were essentially blown away by how much fun the entire 6-movie experience was.

Then Marvel did it again (with almost as much success) with their Phase 2, and now Phase 3 projects.

But in the middle of all that, Marvel teamed up with Netflix to bring some smaller, street-level superheroes to family rooms everywhere. Starting with solo series Daredevil, then Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and finally Iron Fist, all four supers then met up to stop a big bad in a combined effort in The Defenders... Only I think Marvel doesn't have their creative "A-team" working on their TV brands.

Is The Defenders bad? No, not really. But the rest of the Marvel/Netflix universe of shows is very hit or miss... Or "miss and more miss" in the case of Iron Fist. My god... We couldn't even finish that series it was so bad, and the Iron Fist character himself was soooooo fucking dumb. But I digress.

The Defenders takes all the aforementioned vigilantes, stirs them up, and then throws them against one of the oldest Marvel villain organizations around (the Hand), and it hopes that by having a bunch of immortal ninjas running around for Luke Cage, Daredevil, and the alky Jessica Jones to beat the shit out of that you'll forget how much of a retarded man-child Danny Rand (aka The Iron Fist) still is.

What is this 8-episode miniseries about? Well, first we must back up to talk about the original Daredevil. Daredevil was about blind lawyer Matt Murdoch suiting up as the ass-kicking hero of Hell's Kitchen, New York, saving people from The Kingpin's plan to take over the city, with the help of some mobs and a secret syndicate known as The Hand.

Then came Jessica Jones, and with her series came a much broader look at the heroes and villains of NYC, including tons of lawyers and people with actual super powers.

Then came Daredevil season 2, and The Hand was right at the front of things, along with Matt's old, blind, ninja-hating sensei, Stick [Up-His-Ass], and Matt's old psycho girlfriend, Elektra Nachos (I know that's misspelled, but I like nachos). Elektra gets killed by mystical ninjas, and Matt pushes all his friends away.

Then came Luke Cage, but even though he was cool, he just beat up thugs and pathetic gangstas in Harlem.

Then came Iron Fist, and it was slow, poorly choreographed, filled with annoying and really dumb characters, and overall kind of shitty. But it also brought a mystical aspect to the Marvel TV-verse, with Danny Rand having ultra chi powers granted to him by the monks of K'un-Lun. The Hand followed Danny around and meddled in his [dead] parents' corporation's affairs, and then eventually Danny's life when he seemingly came back from the dead himself after being raised and trained by magical monks in a fantasy city in the Kunlun mountain range in Tibet.

Okay, THAT brings us to The Defenders

The Defenders takes all that came before — all the characters, all the seemingly random events — and it tells us that every bad thing that we've seen so far (well, almost every bad thing) is due to the meddling of The Hand. And The Hand, it turns out, is run by Sigourney Weaver. Who knew!

The Hand is all about starting an earthquake in New York in order to find something at the bottom of a deep hole under the basement of a new skyscraper in the middle of Hell's Kitchen. You see, the five (extremely diverse) leaders of The Hand are all immortal, as long as they partake of some nameless super serum whenever they start feeling a bit aged. But alas, Sigourney used the very last of this serum up in order to bring Daredevil's ex-girlfriend, Elektra, back from the dead for no real good reason at all.

Danny Rand DerpDanny Rand finds out that The Hand is tearing up New York City, and confronts them in the penthouse boardroom of their new Hell's Kitchen pad, but luckily for him, Luke Cage, Jessie Jones, and Daredevil were all nearby, and they teamed up to save the brain-damaged billionaire from getting tranqued and kidnapped by the "five fingers of evil" syndicate for their nefarious purposes.

The group of heroes of course doesn't trust each other at first, but soon they find that they need to come together, or they'll all hang apart separately individually alone. Elektra then fucks with Daredevil's mind and heart, people on both sides get killed or lose limbs, and then everybody fights everybody over what's in the giant hole in the ground underneath The Hand's new high rise in Hell's Kitchen. Fin.

Is that it? Really?

Yeah, actually. It's only a short 8 episode series, which is bueno. The Marvel Netflix shows as of late have felt a bit stretched. It felt good to only have something as long as it needed to be with no stupid and boring filler dragging it out to 13 episodes for no real reason.

The good guys had a very fun group vibe. Nobody really trusted anybody (knowing their backgrounds, this was very understandable), but they were good enough people that they stuck together in order to take down the big bad. It didn't feel all that forced to me.

The bad guys though... What the fuck? I didn't care that they made sure that they had one Asian lady, one black fellow, one Middle Eastern guy, a Japanese man, and a white woman, making this a Tumblr dream cast of villainy (the only thing missing was they all didn't fuck in a giant rainbow of orgasmic energy... Well, I don't know that for sure. Maybe they did in a cut scene). My point is that despite these immortals, who were close allies for centuries, plotting away in unison in order to be able to get back to K'un-Lun (the mighty, magical place they were banished from a looooong time ago, because of reasons), they could never seem to be clear whether they were tight as siblings, or just waiting for a chance to finally kill everyone else in their core gang. I couldn't figure out how they lasted this long and got this powerful, to tell you the truth.

I really liked whenever they had Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica on screen. I still can't stand Danny though, even when he was interacting with the three other heroes. Danny was constantly saying or doing something stupid. That was his sole characterization: He was the idiotic one. Oh, and the big bad's winning plan was only possible due to Danny being dumber than a bag of moldy bread crumbs. They "trick" him into opening a portal that only his enchanted fist can bust through (this is me being nice, since it takes actual mental powers to be "tricked"... Danny was just led like a beaten puppy on a leash to do The Hand's bidding in the end). This was by far the stupidest scene in any Marvel production that I've ever seen... And I've seen the 1990s Fantastic Four movie, and the 1970s Spider-Man TV series.

The action, although not the best ever filmed, is loads better than it was for Iron Fist, but still a step down from the Daredevil series. The writing seemed a bit forced and stilted too... Especially whenever the five main members of The Hand gathered. Though in all honesty, this was mainly due to Sigourney just phoning her role in. I honestly can't remember watching something with a star that I really admired who acted as wooden as Ms. Weaver did in her part here. It was almost painful at times.

I enjoyed all the side characters coming together too. Nurse Rosario, Matt's leggy ex-assistant, Foggy, Misty and her arm, Colleen, and Patsy Walker. Not that they were anything more than glorified cameos, but it was fun to see them all interact for a short while.

Aaaaaaand that's pretty much it. It was fluffy superhero fun, it expanded the Marvel Cinematic/TV Universe a bit more, it had Jessica Jones acting all smarmy and drinky-drinky, and Misty finally got what was coming to her.

Yeah, it looked like it was filmed on a shoe-string budget — using the lack of money for lights or daytime shoots to try and make it moody instead of just "cheap" — but it was more enjoyable than Iron Fist and Luke Cage (which had a great first half, but a terribly lame second half), and for that I find that I actually do recommend it. Barely.

The Defenders could have, and should have been a lot better than it was, but despite it appearing to be an economical superhero story, it was entertaining enough to piss away 8 hours of your life on. It could have been a lot, lot worse (see Iron Fist). I give it an almost sure super-heroic thumb up.


RORSCHACH

Rorschach's Journal: Woke up this morning after late night beating mugger senseless and leaving him in a back alley, covered in filth and his own blood. Hand aches. Punched too hard, too many times. Hrrrrn.

Decided to relax today. Ice my hand. Get it ready to punch more savage thugs tomorrow. Put on Defenders on Netflix. Big mistake.

Defenders. Luke Cage, Matthew Murdock, Jessica Jones, and Danny Rand, boy billionaire. Pathetic. For a show about people who were trained by either monks or ninjas to fight, their choreography is worse than your average Power Rangers episode.

Danny Rand. Apparently being raised by monks in a mystical city in the Himalayas does not automatically make one intelligent. Surprised he has enough brain power to tell his body to throw a punch, let alone make his fist glow. Sloppy fighter too. Always leaves himself open for attack -- physical or emotional taunting. Would not let on my team. Would not trust him to beat up a 4th grader for his lunch money.

Luke Cage. Strong, tough, bullet-proof. Big heart. Too big. Thinks with his emotions too often. Sometimes writers think that because he's tough he should be unwilling to talk or deal with change. Lame.

Matt Murdock. Blind, but other super senses let him be a ninja. Cool. Catholic. Uggh. Too much Catholic guilt in his character. Thinks anybody can be saved. No. Not true. Some beyond saving. That's what dumpsters are for.

Jessica Jones. Perfect. Drinks too much, but she can handle it. Love her. Will squeeze one out tonight before bed in honor of her.

The Hand. Worst group of ninja masters ever. Dumb plan. Dumber utilization of almost limitless funds. Why bother to get your own hands dirty if you're no longer immortal. Stupid. Deserved what they got.

Question: Why are there dragon skeletons 1/2 mile below New York City, behind a door that only Iron Fist can open? Did they try a jackhammer? Why New York? How did Hand find out about this door and dragon bones?

Bed time. But first... Jessica.

Defenders. Kind of lame. But I love Jessica. Two thumbs up for Jessica.


The MEGAPLAYBOY

Marvel, my main comic peeps, just what in the hell are you doing now?

Davedevil was kinda cool, fool! Jessi Jones was pretty sweet... But the blacksploitation that was Luke Cage was not so great, Al, and kind of insulting. And don't even get me started on whatever the hell that Iron Fist was. It was like Batman mixed with a fish-out-of-water story, where the fish is mildly retarded and knows some martial arts.

Bringin' all these fools into the same story with Defenders was a'ight, but only when Iron Fist wasn't on the screen. I swear my IQ dropped a little every time he appeared, but it wasn't like Iron Fist was stealin' my brain smarts, he was just takin' me down with him so that we could both be stupid.

For what it was, the Defenders was okay, G. It just weren't the best. Maybe they'll throw a bit more dough at it next time for season two, and get some writers in who know how to make even cheap-o shows at least not sound like a monkey wrote them by slappin' a typewriter. Meh, it's better than spendin' the night in the joint for pissing on a cop's shoe. So it's got that goin' for it, Holmes.