Arriving later this year, The Defenders will up the stakes for New York’s four superheroes, bringing Netflix's Marvel stable together for an explosive, eight-part team outing. Here’s what we know so far...
1. It's the end of Marvel's Netflix 'Phase One'
The Defenders series was always the intended endgame of Marvel’s “street level” Netflix universe. It’s connected to, but hasn’t much crossed over with its cinema siblings (although there have been dark mentions of “the incident”: the attack on New York in Avengers Assemble). Following their own standalone shows, Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) will team up to face a threat that’s too big for them to handle individually.
2. Iron Fist is the newest addition
We have yet to be introduced to Iron Fist, AKA Danny Rand, but we know that, as per the comics, he’s a wealthy martial artist, with the Iron Fist itself a mystical artefact from which Rand can draw additional (super)power. The premise of his show is a prodigal Rand returning to reclaim his family business and having to choose between running that company and his more esoteric Iron Fist duties.
3. There will be bickering
When brought together as the Defenders, the four principal characters don’t necessarily mesh well together – initially at least. We can expect some inter-’fenders tension, possibly already teased by Stick’s words in the brief Comic-Con teaser trailer: “You think the four of you can save New York? You can’t even save yourselves.”
4. It's deliberately smaller scale
The Avengers are, of course… elsewhere. With the Infinity War looming, Marvel’s A-list are off fighting an intergalactic threat, while the Defenders keep it down and dirty on the backstreets of New York. Producer Jeph Loeb has said the Avengers are here to save the universe and the Defenders are here to save the neighbourhood.
5. There will be other familiar faces
Other characters from the four existing shows also confirmed to appear are Stick, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Elektra (Elodie Yung), Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor). We can also expect at least an appearance by The Punisher (Jon Bernthal).
6. Sigourney Weaver is the villain
As revealed at this year’s Comic-Con, Sigourney Weaver is playing The Defenders’ principal villain, Alexandra, although who exactly that is remains the cause of much speculation. Some suspect that she’ll be Viper, a big bad with ties to The Hand who’s fought both Daredevil and Iron Fist in the comics. But that’s nothing like confirmed yet. It’s just an educated guess.
7. The Defenders has a solid pedigree
The creative team behind The Defenders is led by Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez: previously the showrunners and producers of Daredevil’s second season. DD’s Drew Goddard and Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb are also along for the ride as usual. S.J. Clarkson is the first announced director, having shot two episodes of Jessica Jones last year.
8. It's not the end
We used the word “endgame” earlier, but while The Defenders was always conceived as the capstone for the initial four series, it’s far from the finish. Netflix has already squeezed in an unanticipated second season of Daredevil, and there’ll be a third following the team-up. Plus, a second season of Jessica Jones is also confirmed, as is The Punisher’s own spin-off show from his Daredevil debut. Note also that Luke Cage and Iron Fist are a double act in the comics as the Heroes For Hire. So that could well be a future thing too.
9. The Defenders' tone will be interesting
Each separate series has had its own unique tone: essentially idiosyncratic takes on, respectively, Nolan-ish superheroics (Daredevil), detective noir (Jessica Jones), Blaxploitation (Luke Cage) and, we’ll assume, mystical martial arts flicks (Iron Fist). Quite where The Defenders will land on that spectrum remains to be seen and will be a tough juggling act for the showrunners to master. Four heroes is one thing; four unique stylistic identities is quite another.
The Defenders will air on Netflix later this year.