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Netflix – The Defending Champions

Posted 12/16/2016 by Baxter Stein

Marvel's The Defenders announced to be released in 2017. graphic courtesy of Netflix

Trailers for Marvel’s new Netflix series inspire speculation and controversy.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, Marvel Studios and Netflix debuted multiple trailers for upcoming collaborations between the two companies. The first was a trailer for a new superhero TV series called Iron Fist, scheduled for release on March 17th, 2017. The other, a teaser trailer for the Netflix series The Defenders, is receiving a lot of attention from Marvel fans and casual viewers alike. The Defenders will be released after Iron Fist sometime in 2017. Both of these series will be set in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and they will be specifically tied with the popular Netflix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.

More casual Marvel fans may not know anything about Iron Fist or The Defenders, as neither are very popular comic publications today. Iron Fist is a man by the name of Daniel Rand, played by actor Finn Jones, who was saved from wolves as a child by group of monks. The monks took him to a mystical city called K’un-L’un, where he grew up practicing martial arts. When he turned 19, he was given the opportunity to obtain the power of the iron fist. With this power, Daniel could smash through almost anything using an energy enhanced punch, and this remains his origin story throughout most depictions of the character in comic books. Despite this show’s generally positive reception in its early stages, there are some fans who disagree with the casting choices – accusing Netflix and Marvel of casting another “White Savior” hero. Many people believed an Asian man should have been cast as Daniel Rand, despite his appearance as a white man in the comic books. For a while, a Twitter hashtag was circulating that ridiculed Netflix for the decision. Netflix addressed this issue, saying that Iron Fist was not so much a white savior character, as he was  mostly struggling to save himself.

The Defenders, in contrast to Iron Fist, have a much less concrete story arc. Over the course of many different comic books, the roster of the defenders team has changed drastically. Throughout these various stories, the basic concept has been a group of superheroes in New York who are in some way disconnected from the more mainstream Avengers. The roster of the Defenders often includes heroes like Dr. Strange or The Hulk, characters who do not have the temperament or fame to be in groups like the Avengers.

This time around, The Defenders consists of four heroes not typically seen in the comic books: Iron Fist, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Much like the Avengers films, each member of The Defenders will get a feature of their own. All of these heroes have (or will have, in the case of Iron Fist) shows exclusively on Netflix, building up to their formation of their own ragtag superhero team. Their formation of a team is certainly interesting, considering the very individual nature of all of the heroes, especially Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter). These characters have issues with putting those they love into harm’s way, and separate themselves from other people to avoid tragedy. With this band of characters, it is highly likely that their interaction as a team will be a major conflict. In addition to the individual nature of all the members, The Defenders will have an identity problem, as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage do not consider themselves to be heroes. Appearances from characters originally seen in the Daredevil Netflix series, such as Frank Castle (AKA The Punisher), Stick, and Claire Temple are rumored to play a large part in the plot.

Although many details are unconfirmed, several conclusions can be drawn from the given information. When the series was announced, there was much speculation on who the villain would be. With the release of the teaser trailer and a few actor confirmations, it has become clear that a ninja organization called “The Hand” will be the main enemy facing the defenders in their Netflix show. The Hand first made an appearance in season two of the Daredevil series. It is set up as a massive underground organization, with limitless power and technology – including the power to bring people back from the dead. The reveal came from an audio clip of the character Stick, played by Scott Glenn, talking about the danger that New York was in. Stick is a character from Daredevil, taking the role of Matt Murdock’s old mentor. Stick worked to defeat The Hand in season two of Daredevil, often conflicting with Murdock (played by Charlie Cox) about ethics and ideology. Despite their efforts saving New York at the end of the second season, The Hand remained intact, now with a reanimated Elektra Natchios (played by Elodie Yung) on their side. Stick’s speech about the danger facing New York is nothing short of confirmation that The Defenders will be facing The Hand as a team.

Both Marvel and Netflix are growing rapidly, attracting fans of all kinds to experience the entertainment that these companies provide. With the merging of the two mediums, both companies have created a huge hit in the entertainment industry. With so much buzz and speculation, Iron Fist and The Defenders are sure to be insanely popular among not only the Marvel super fans, but casual Netflix watchers as well.