5 Things Viewers Want From Netflix’s Upcoming Marvel Series ‘The Defenders’

Netflix’s and Marvel Studios’ TV collaboration reaches its first major climactic point when The Defenders debuts on 18th August and, after all of the trailer and Comic Con information, the hype train has truly entered the station.

Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are set to unite in the battle to eradicate The Hand from New York City’s seedy underbelly, and there’s plenty to ponder and speculate about ahead of the show’s release in just under a few weeks’ time.

With rumours going into overdrive about Siourney Weaver’s character Alexandra, how our heroes – and reluctant heroes – will get along and other questions, what do we definitely want to see from the eight-episode strong series? Here’s five things on every viewer’s wishlist:

Action, and Plenty of it

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With at least one season under each of the quartet’s respective belts, backstories have been firmly established, characters fleshed out and locations set in place.

A good a time as any, then, for a plethora of action sequences to take place.

Our four heroes have already enjoyed some bruising, realistic fight scenes during their own arcs – who can forget the first time they saw the corridor sequence from Dardevil‘s first season? – and, with just eight one-hour long episodes to see if The Defenders can remove the Hand from Hell’s Kitchen for good, the fans will be desperate for a whole slew of action-oriented set-pieces.

That means lots and lots of the above, please Netflix & Marvel.

Who is Alexandra, and What’s Her Deal?

thedefenders2One character whose character hasn’t been fleshed out all that much – naturally due to her lack of appearance thus far in Marvel’s TV universe and unwillingness to spoil anything yet – is supposed Leader of the Hand, Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver).

Mike Colter recently divulged that Alexandra has ties to all four members of The Defenders, and it would be extremely beneficial if viewers were treated to more than just a “she’s the leader so deal with it” synopsis.

To truly get to the bottom of her persona and her motives, it would be wise to see Alexandra given some form of backstory to reveal why she’s the villain of this series.

Jokes, Quips and Humour Galore

thedefenders3While Netflix & Marvel collaborations have proven to be bloody, often-violent affairs that have confronted tough topics, there has also been a lighter, humorous side to proceedings too.

Whether it be Matt Murdoch’s quips to his co-stars in his own Daredevil show, or Luke Cage’s deadpan verbal slamming of his foe’s henchmen, each series has had its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments and, given the rapport among the actors seen on set, as well as each character’s personality, let’s hope The Defenders retains its lighthearted nature to contrast the brutal fight scenes accordingly.

The trailers so far have shown there will be some funny scenes to contrast the gritty action sequences, so here’s hoping there’s plenty more to come.

Ample Screen Time for the Supporting Cast

clairetempleIf the San Diego Comic Con Defenders panel showed us anything, it’s that there’s an extensive supporting cast for Netflix’s upcoming series.

Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing) and Elodie Yung (Elektra) were all present, but that trio will have to contend with Elden Henson (‘Foggy’ Nelson’), Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple), Simone Missick (Misty Knight), Scott Glenn (‘Stick’) and Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker) – among others – also being granted a decent amount of screen time.

That’s before we even delve into the minor characters who will have bit-part roles to play in pushing the story forward too. Put all that together, and The Defenders‘ cast truly does look bloated.

Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie will have had their work cut out on marrying all of these characters together, and we hope that they’ll all be given a chance to shine without detracting too much from our main protagonists and antagonists.

Hints at Where Each Character’s Future Seasons Will Go

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Okay, this one is a little left field and there may not be time to delve into what’s in store for each of our four heroes individually, but it would be cool to get a vague idea of what’s next for the intrepid quartet.

Maybe there’ll be a clue as to which villains could fill a potential void in the criminal underworld if the Hand are disposed of. Or maybe there will be an indication of where each hero’s path will lead them to next.

With all four confirmed to have had new seasons greenlit by Netflix and Marvel, a nice little tease or stinger at the very end of the series would give a brief glimpse into what they could expect in the future.

Review: Daredevil Season Two

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It’s been 11 months since Netflix and Marvel brought us their joint collaboration of Daredevil Season One.

And such was the critical acclaim that the debut series received, it was a dead cert that a second season starring The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen would be green-lit.

Fast forward to March 2016, and it’s safe to say that the second installment of Daredevil‘s story not only holds up, but at times it surpasses season one’s impressive credentials.

Taking over from season one showrunner Steven DeKnight, Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez had big shoes to fill – particularly concerning a new primary antagonist.

Note: Spoilers from both seasons can be found from this point on, so leave now unless you want everything spoiled for you!

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With Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk finally jailed at the end of the first series, fans and critics were intrigued as to who would step into the role of big bad to take on Matt Murdock’s (Charlie Cox) alter-ego.

In Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle/The Punisher, it appears that such a character is found.

Seeking vengeance after seeing his young family gunned down in cold blood during a gangland shooting, ex-marine Castle stops at nothing to lay waste to all of the criminal gangs that took part in the massacre on that fateful day.

It is this unrelenting slaughter that sees Daredevil lock horns (pun intended) with Castle throughout the early episodes of the season.

No more so is this evident than in episode three (New York’s Finest) where, after being captured by Castle, Murdock and his new apparent foe question each other’s moral code.

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It is an early highlight, and is built upon in episode four (Penny and Dime) when Castle displays vulnerability as he recounts the story of returning home from war, to see his family, after he is rescued from the Irish mafia by none other than Daredevil himself.

It’s a heart-wrenching monologue delivered with emotional depth by Bernthal, and lends weight to his own vigilante motives.

Following his arrest at the end of the episode, the season could have begun to unravel as soon as it begun.

But in Elektra Natchios’ (Elodie Yung) arrival, the plot transitions into carefully orchestrated forked paths, as the cast are led down their own relevant mini-story arcs.

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For Daredevil/Murdock, the arrival of his ex-girlfriend-cum-assassin sends both his personal life and vigilante persona into disarray, as he struggles to stop the villainous organisation known as The Hand and attempts to prevent his already-fractured relationships with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson (Eldin Henson) from completely falling apart.

It is a role that Cox revels in, as the titular character becomes torn between his duty to “his city” and to the few friends he has in his life.

Yung’s Elektra, meanwhile, sparkles as the aptly-ironic devil in Murdock’s ear, as well as portraying the character’s complexity and tortured past with aplomb.

The twist surrounding her destiny in the penultimate episode leaves more questions than answers before she is given a supposedly heroic send-off, but it does little to detract from the excellent depiction that Yung brings to the table.

And it is not just Murdock and the new supporting cast that see their character’s stories fleshed out.

Page revels in the role of investigator-in-chief as she attempts to uncover the real story behind Castle’s rampage – a side to her that evokes memories of the departed Ben Urich – as her resourcefulness and bravery prove that she is more than a mere damsel in distress, despite her carelessness sometimes throwing her head first into trouble.

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Nelson, too, receives much needed character development – his frienship with Murdock, already frayed after finding out Daredevil’s true identity in season one, is torn asunder as the pair clash over the falling apart of the People vs Frank Castle trial midway through the season.

And, like Page, he discovers his own courage during a visit to The Dogs of Hell gang’s turf, and throughout Castle’s trial – a court case he almost single handedly wins before allowing Murdock to completely ruin proceedings during his questioning of the defendant.

Rosario Dawson’s no-nonsense nurse Claire Temple provides a sense of morality and honesty that is sometimes lacking in other characters, Scott Glenn’s Stick, mentor to both Murdock and Elektra, offers up his usual self-rightousness and piety throughout, while Peter McRobbie’s Father Lantom is given a brief-yet-profound monologue in episode three in his only appearance of the series.

The surprise reveal of D’Onofrio’s Fisk in episode eight is a welcome one too – the calculating villain helping to move the story along with typical malice and cunning as he manipulates Castle into taking out a rival in his prison he now seemingly owns.

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Action wise, the show builds impressively on the foundations laid by its first season.

An excellently filmed sequence involving Daredevil and the Dogs of Hell gang pays homage to season one’s fight with the Russian mob, as he dispatches a number of underlings with creativity and a whirlwind of force down a staircase.

Castle’s one-man stand during one prison scene is as brutal and barbaric as they come too – a welcome contrast to the acrobatic and ninja-esque style of Daredevil and Elektra themselves.

Brawls with The Hand in later episodes are choregraphed brilliantly as well, and are as ferocious as they are elegant.

The plot takes a turn for the mystical as it reaches its climax, as the gritty realism of Hell’s Kitchen is replaced with the supernatural revelation that The Hand have supposedly uncovered immortality.

It is a move that is somewhat of a let-down, such is the authentic feel of the show up until that point.

Given that the wider Marvel universe, both on the silver screen and in other TV shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, it is perhaps not as superfluous as it is made out to be.

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Question marks also remain over some story threads that are not cleared up.

An explanation of the gigantic hole that Daredevil and Elektra uncover is not provided; nor do we see the mysterious figure that Stick chats to at the end of episode seven of the first season.

Doubts remain over what happened to Page’s brother, given the newspaper clipping we see, whilst the fate of Elektra is left up to the imagination – for now.

It is probable that these queries are just set ups for later seasons of Daredevil, and aren’t just glossed over with the introduction of new plot strands and characters come season three.

Overall though, Daredevil season two lives up to its predecessor – shaking up the single villain formula in favour of introducing other complex characters and mulitple ‘bad guys’ opens up the world Marvel has created, and helps to continue the sterling work that the multinational company has produced over the past decade.

Verdict: Bold, emotional, complex and gory, Daredevil Season Two successfully implements a muliple-stranded story arc that succeeds in building upon its debut series. 8.5/10

Review: Daredevil Season One

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In 2003, diehard fans of the comic book character Daredevil had been left disappointed and bemused.

A film adaptation of the Marvel character, starring Ben Affleck as the titular hero, had been received poorly – despite taking $179.2m at the box office – with many criticising the plot and direction that the movie had taken.

Even Stan Lee, creator of Dardevil, said that it had “got the whole thing wrong”.

Fast forward 12 years, and that disappointement is no longer etched on the faces of Daredevil fans.

A Netflix original series and produced by Marvel Television, ABC studios and DeKnight productions, the TV adaptation of Daredevil has been lauded by fans, critics and casual viewers alike for its dark, gritty and accurate depiction of the comic book lore.

Created for TV by Drew Goddard, who was in line to write and direct a Sinister Six film for Sony set in their Spiderman universe before it got cancelled, the show draws inspiration from Lee’s and Bill Everett’s long-running series and introduces viewers to a side of New York City, in Hell’s Kitchen, that is overlooked in Marvel’s flagship film franchises.

Beware: Spoilers for the comics and show appear from this point on, so turn back if you do not want anything ruined for you!

Daredevil tells the story of Matt Murdock, a lawyer who was blinded as a child by a radioactive substance that fell from a vehicle after he pushed a man to safety from said truck.

Despite being unable to see, Murdock’s other senses are significantly heightened by the substance and grants him a ‘radar sense’, not unlike Spiderman’s ‘spider sense’.

By day, Murdock works at Nelson & Murdock: Attorneys At Law – a fledgling law firm set up by Murdock and best friend and fellow lawyer, Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson.

By night, though, Murdock stalks the rooftops, streets and buildings as the Man in the Mask, thwarting criminals and saving lives.

And in 33-year-old actor Charlie Cox, both Murdock and his alter-ego are transferred from page to screen effortlessly.

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Charming, intelligent and resourceful as Murdock, and gruff, physical and fearless as Daredevil, Cox’s portrayal as The Man Without Fear is superbly carried out.

Cox’s ability to depict Murdock’s blindness, too, is down to a tee – the English actor’s work with blind consultant Joe Strechay paying dividends to give a natural, accurate representation of a blind individual.

And, as with all superheroes, there is a complexity about the character of Murdock and Daredevil that Cox manages to convey throughout a series of stellar performances.

Having taken the oath when becoming a lawyer, Murdock knowingly breaks his own vow every night when acting as a vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen.

Coupled with his devout Catholic beliefs, questions of morality and grey areas come into stark contrast for Murdock – particularly as the season reaches its final few episodes.

Indeed, Murdock’s emotions get the better of him as he seeks revenge for the death of the innocent Elena Cardenas – a resident of an apartment block who stands up main villain Kingpin/Wilson Fisk’s plans to buyout her building, but who is killed off by one of Fisk’s henchmen.

After being seriously injured during a showdown with Nobu, a member of mysterious Japanese organisation The Hand and part of Fisk’s criminal gang, Murdock is almost left for dead when stupidly trying to take on Fisk after despatching of the former.

It is one of a few occasions throughout the series when Murdock’s desire to do the right thing gets the better of him, and allows viewers the opportunity to question his motives.

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Murdock’s constant struggle between refusing to take someone’s life, in part to the Catholicism instilled in him and, as he eloquently puts it, battling the ‘devil inside of me’, is a key component of the complexity of the character, and one that proves how intriguing Dardevil as a personality is.

Strikingly, Fisk – who is expertly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio – isn’t too dissimilar from our titular hero in wanting to rebuild Hell’s Kitchen.

Fisk’s willingness to kill anyone who stands in his way, however, is the one key difference that keeps the two players at polar opposites of the spectrum.

As a 12-year-old boy, Fisk saves his mother from his cruel bully of a father, after years of abuse, by beating him to death with a hammer – a move that begins to sow the seeds of the man Fisk will eventually become.

And it is this disposition, to remove anyone who stands between him and lording over his city, that leads Fisk into believing his intentions are justifiable, in spite of his criminal activity.

Such actions become more severe as the series presses on, as Fisk takes out fellow partners in the Russian mafia, led by the Ranskahov brothers, and financial distributor Leland Owlsley – the latter of whom conspires with fellow criminal Madame Gow to assassinate Vanessa Marianna, Fisk’s love interest.

His masterplan further unravels following the death of right-hand man James Wesley, who is shot dead by Page after she is kidnapped by Wesley, and sees Fisk become erratic and emotional – a move that eventually proves his undoing.

Both Murdock and Fisk are flawed as individuals, and believe that they must save Hell’s Kitchen from the mediocrity it finds itself in – their ideals over how to do so, though, is what ultimately leads them to butting heads as the season’s climax looms closer.

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It is not just Cox and D’Onofrio who stand out as part of an impressive cast either.

Deborah Ann Woll is wonderful as secretary-cum-investigator Karen Page; Elden Henson as ‘Foggy’ Nelson too, who brings humour and heart in equal measure, especially when finding out that Murdock is Daredevil himself.

Rosario Dawson’s performance as Claire Temple, who patches Murdock’s injuries up and acts as a potential love interest, is strong if fleeting, while Vondie Curtis-Hall excels as journalist Ben Urich before his death at the hands of Fisk in the penultimate episode of the season.

There are small nods to Marvel’s other franchises throughout Daredevil too, with small mentions of the events of Avengers Assemble just one such example of how Marvel is tying its cinematic universe into its TV story arcs.

The season finale finally sees the ‘Man in the Mask’ dubbed ‘Daredevil’ in the media – thanks in no small part to the unveiling of Murdock’s new, improved and protective costume – and ties season one’s storythreads together in a fitting manner.

The face-off between Daredevil and Fisk could possibly have been a little longer in length, given the events that had led up to that point, but it was enough to leave viewers wanting more – a duel that will no doubt be revisited when, not if, Fisk escapes from prison.

That fight and other action sequences are well choreographed and fluid throughout too, with various camera angles picking up a variety of stellar shots to exhibit the violence on show.

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A couple of slight niggles with editing in one or two episodes show that there is slight room for improvement, in addition to a smattering of ponderous moments, particularly in the earlier chapters of the series, but these faults are minor and can easily be rectified now that the show has a sound footing on which to build.

Season two of Daredevil, due for release on March 18th, will introduce fan favourites such as Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), but it will have to make do without season one showrunner Stephen DeKnight – a decision that will hopefully not cause too much concern going forward, such was the acclaim the first series garnered.

If Goddard and co. can produce another successful season that surpasses the first, fans will be in for a treat. It’ll be much deserved after years of being reminded of that 2003 film.

Verdict: A triumph for all concerned, Daredevil is a tactful interpretation of a beloved comic book superhero. Gritty, dark, intriguing and, at times, shocking, solid foundations have been laid for the show moving forward into season two, with much of the same expected for the next chapter in the franchise. 9/10