The Defenders review: One Fist to ruin them all, one Devil to bind them

The Defenders review: Marvel is back on television and it has united Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist in a confused little team-up.

tv Updated: Aug 18, 2017 17:21 IST
Soumya Srivastava
Soumya Srivastava
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Defenders,Review,The Defenders Review
Charlie Cox, Mike Colter, Kristen Ritter and Finn Jones star in The Defenders.

The Defenders
Cast: Kristen Ritter, Charlie Cox, Mike Colter, Sigourney Weaver
Rating: 2.5/5

Until last year, the prospect of watching Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage bust up villains would have seemed irresistible but then 2016’s Iron Fist single-handedly managed to - almost - ruin Marvel’s TV superhero franchise. So, are the other three enough to pull you into The Defenders? Yes. Are they enough to keep you watching? Maybe not.

With the new show, Marvel brings together the four superheroes dedicated to saving New York, and only New York, from peril.

Matt’s given up the horns for good and it has not been too difficult as his days of vigilante justice have made crime in Hell’s Kitchen’s a rarity. Jessica, after shooting her purple rapist in the head, is back to boozing and reluctantly taking up cases. Luke has been let out from prison and is back to making Harlem a better place. And Danny is hunting after members of The Hand in his private jets with Colleen.

Again, the mysterious Hand is causing trouble in the city, headed by Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra. She, in her corporate pantsuits, is built up as the villain right from the beginning and boy, what a let down she is.

Four episodes in, Weaver is not intimidating even with her army of ninjas, complex even with her mother/master-daughter/slave relationship with Elektra or able to draw sympathy even with her terminal illness.

Of course, she is a big step up from Meachum of Iron Fist but not to forget, this franchise has given us one of the best villains in TV history, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk and the creepiest creep to ever wear purple, David Tennant’s Kilgrave. It is really saying something when a show manages to leave Sigourney Weaver at the bottom of any list.

All of the four of the previous shows had a vibe and tempo of their own, the fastest being Jessica Jones, the slowest being Luke Cage, the darkest being Daredevil and the lamest being Iron Fist.The Defenders tries really hard to keep it alive but the result is a messy mix, conjoined by a really weird effect of side sweeping frames every time a scene transitions into another. The show ends up looking like Wizards of Waverly Place or any other Disney Channel offspring from late 2000s.

The picture gets a faded effect for scenes with Matt, more cold blues for Jessica, more yellows and sunshiny outdoors for Luke and grey gutters for Danny. But during the few moments the four come together, the style is absolutely blank. So far, I have seen them in a pasty white building in full, non-faded clarity and in a neon-filled diner. May be they will gets a better, more nuanced identity as a foursome in the episodes to come or maybe not.

As for the action, it seems like the makers responsible for their own shows are still playing their own game. The choreography in the first scene itself is utterly confusing, non-engaging, included about a million cuts and guess who it was picturised on? Don’t bother, it was Danny. Then there is one in a dark alley with crisp, longer shots, cleaner sounds, swift but smart moves and guess who was the hero here? Don’t bother yet again, it was Matt.

It is not just us who are clear what we have come for. The makers on the show have also realised that Jessica and Matt are the crowd pullers and fan favourites. The episodes end on either of the two, separately or with each other. They know we are here to watch them together, the alcoholic with a foul mouth and the Catholic blind ninja. Danny’s constant jabber about chi, dragon and mystical lands, makes you want to roll your eyes just like Jessica and that makes him a little more bearable. He is the group’s underdog everyone slaps on the ear or ruffles the hair of when he says he saw a three-legged horse in the street. But it’s okay to have him around, if only to ignore him.

The group has very little to keep them together. But Danny’s earnestness to rid the world of evil, Luke’s sense of responsibility towards the people of his neighbourhood, Jessica’s half hearted attempts at being kinder and Matt’s inability to not put his strength to good use, may be enough for now.

The author was given the first four episodes for review

The author tweets as @soumya1405

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First Published: Aug 18, 2017 11:26 IST