What do you do when you watch something that for everything you love about it, you find something else completely cringe worthy, dull or irritating? Well, in my case you keep watching but then you write a blog post to both celebrate what this long anticipated series does well and to openly wonder just what the deal is with everything else.
The Defenders on Netflix finally brings together a group of heroes that on paper are exactly what I like in a hero. Daredevil amazed me when I saw the premier at Supernova and it is the reason I even have a Netflix subscription. It wasn’t a perfect series but for all the gritty retellings of superhero stories going on in the cinemas, Daredevil as a TV series just grabbed me in a way none of those other stories had. A lot of that is because of the main character and just how well Charlie Cox manages to portray both the devil and the lawyer.
Then I got stuck into Jessica Jones and was also utterly blown away. I loved Jessica’s character. Okay, sassy and downtrodden girl is getting a little old, but she wears it very well. Plus, we got David Tennant as a villain so there really wasn’t anything to complain about with that.
Moving along, Luke Cage got his own series. This is where I started falling out of love with Netflix superheroes. Luke Cage is one boring protagonist, and I know I just offended some of his fans, but I find him incredibly dull and as a result I never actually finished his series. Though, when I compared that to the mess that was Iron Fist… well, Luke Cage didn’t look that bad anymore.
And all of that leads me to The Defenders and their series. I was most definitely taking some personal time after mid-last week and I’d been dying to try this series so I took an early afternoon and watched the first three episodes back to back, so just until they got the four characters together in the same location really. And as the title of this post suggests, I half love it and I half don’t.
Basically, any scene with Matt or Jessica kind of inspired the same love I’d had for their individual efforts, and bringing the two together, albeit very briefly so far, was pure joy. Watching the banter between the two as they see who can be snarkier or one up the other was highly entertaining. Honestly, the only downer with Matt is the whole inner conflict he’s going through about whether he even still wants to be the devil. Hopefully he gets over that soon, because that indecision has been played to death by other heroes and it is never very interesting.
Conversely, any scene with Luke or Danny just feels emotionally overwrought (in the case of Danny’s opening scene), or completely flat (all of Luke’s scenes so far and Danny after the opening scene). Even putting the two together for a fist fight did nothing to impress as you have a guy with an iron fist pounding at a guy who literally stops bullets. Admittedly, Danny did finally get in one decent punch but this was basically like watching a guy spar against a cement post and finally at the end knock one tiny chip off of it. It was not an interesting fight and that’s because Luke doesn’t fight. He pushes, occasionally punches, stands stoically around, but he isn’t built for, nor is his style, flashy or interesting.
Someone else who reviewed the whole series of The Defenders mentioned the use of colour so I was particularly looking for it (not that you need to) and it is both striking and very affective. That kind of attention to visual detail deserves recognition and it carries a lot of the characterisation and tone of the show without the characters doing anything other than being in the scene. Now if they’d applied that same simple is more approach to the camera direction at times this could even be said to be a beautiful show.
Alas, the camera blurs, takes on weird focuses, cuts continuously (particularly during skirmishes), it pans, it tilts, it shakes, it drives you absolutely crazy until you want to reach out and just hold the thing still so you can just watch what is happening. It is so needless and distracting.
I do have to briefly turn my attention to Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) and Elektra who are the face of the enemy so far. Alexandra apparently being on top and Elektra being the whole Black Sky thing (whatever that may end up being). To be honest, neither of these two have been overly impressive in the first three episodes. Admittedly, Alexandra has the potential to be a truly interesting villain at this point. She’s a reserved but fairly nuanced character and given more screen time could really flesh out the role and be quite chilling, but these first three episodes (given they are understandably focussed on getting the actual defenders together) don’t really give her much space. Elektra is more or less a blank slate at the moment so nothing really happening there.
So I’m fence sitting at this point. I really want to like this series and there are certainly parts of it I love so far. But, there are some definite issues going on and some characters I’m a little less fond of, so I guess it depends how it balances now that the whole team is together and whether the plot actually goes somewhere now. Once I finish watching this I’ll write up my final thoughts, in the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on The Defenders.
Thanks for reading.
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