Is Anyone Still Excited For The Defenders?
Before the first episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season premiered last July, people had already been counting down to it for months. Likewise, the second season of Stranger Things, which is slated to drop this October in time for Halloween, is a much-awaited premiere that most people are already looking forward to.
But it’s hard to say the same about The Defenders, which by virtue of its canonicity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, should be a much more hotly anticipated series. It’s dropping this Friday, August 18, and before articles like this one started coming out, it felt like most people wouldn’t even have known that. There’s hardly any talk leading up to The Defenders’ debut, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it entirely.
Perhaps The Defenders isn’t getting the attention it deserves because the individual character series that preceded it were inconsistent. Daredevil built up a lot of promise in its first season, and marginally delivered on that promise throughout its second season, but was still just barely compelling enough to get you excited about the franchise. Jon Bernthal’s Punisher and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk were excellent, but its faults—Elodie Yung's critically panned Elektra and the series’ clumsy pace and excessive brooding, for starters—were difficult to set aside.
Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were both better, which made it much easier to get behind the Netflix side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Iron Fist rounded it all out on a terrible note. These character series were successful in building up some momentum towards a franchise worth being excited about, but they ultimately failed to keep that momentum going through to the first season of The Defenders, where everything would culminate.
Consider, though, that the lead-up to 2012’s The Avengers was also not without a couple of missteps. Before it, the MCU had only been Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk (yeah, Edward Norton’s Hulk), Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Of these, only Iron Man was truly outstanding. But when The Avengers finally dropped, the MCU suddenly started to feel like something much greater than the sum of its parts, and all the previous movies became meaningful components in a grander scheme. Of course, they never had an Iron Fist-level flop to weigh them down, but it still feels fair to say that the MCU only became as promising and as exciting as it is today after The Avengers.
So by the same logic, The Defenders could still very well be worth more excitement. The hype for it may have died down long before its premiere, and the individual character series may not be as exciting in retrospect, but things may yet change when the four characters finally get together and team up. We’re only one day away, so we’ll find out soon enough.