While Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has been around for over a decade (with films planned up to 2020), Marvel’s Netflix Universe is preparing for its first crossover series, The Defenders.
Released August 18th, 2017 on Netflix, the eight-episode series features Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones).
Like the MCU, which gave Iron Man, Captain America and Thor solo films before the first Avengers, all the heroes in Defenders were introduced with their own series. With less box office and commercial pressure, the Netflix series’ are darker and more violent that the Marvel Studios films and share continuity with the overall MCU (the events of the Avengers is referred to as ‘the incident’). Rosario Dawson played nurse Claire Temple in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Daredevil: Blinded by radioactive waste as a child, Matt Murdock discovers his other senses are heightened. He partners with friends Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) in their law firm by day while fighting as Daredevil by night, defending Hell’s Kitchen. Season one sees Daredevil fight the Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) and season two features The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra (Élodie Yung). The series was a massive improvement on the poorly received 2003 Ben Affleck film. A third season will air in 2018.
Jessica Jones: This series wasn’t afraid to explore darker themes, including rape, assault and PTSD. Ritter plays Jones, a former superhero who opens her own detective agency. It features Colter as Cage, Australia’s own Rachael Taylor as Patricia Walker, a former child star, radio host and Jones’ best friend, and David Tennant as main villain Zebediah Killgrave. Jessica Jones was praised for its realism, with Jones not a typical “goody goody” hero. Jessica Jones avoids the elaborate costumes of the comics. The original comic costume is briefly referenced and the the purple-skinned Killgrave from the comics is replaced by Tennant in a purple suit. Season two will premiere in 2018.
Luke Cage: Harlem’s Luke Cage is arguably the most realistic of the heroes, stripping away the comics’ yellow jumpsuit for Colter’s tight t-shirts and hoodies. Cage, a former inmate of Seagate prison, is a reluctant hero at first, only stepping in to save Harlem from Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali), as Willis Stryker / Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) and as Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard). The show has a cameo from rapper Method Man and his new song ‘Bulletproof Love’. The show was renewed for a second season.
Iron Fist: the last of the Defenders series, Iron Fist features Danny Rand (Jones) returning to New York 15 years after being presumed dead from a plane crash. Now the Iron Fist, his mission is to stop The Hand (featured in Daredevil). Also starring Australia’s own David Wenham, it was the worst received of the Netflix shows.