Epic fail: Why Marvel’s ‘The Defenders’ shouldn’t continue
If you’ve just about recovered from the disappointing dreck of The Defenders, you might be happy to know a second season of the Marvel series isn’t looking likely. Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter suggested this may be the case in an interview with Vulture. Asked about the return of The Defenders, Ritter responded, “I don’t think we are doing it again.”
The actor also indicated a second season may have never been planned in the first place. “It was never intentioned to do it again, but, you know, if I was given another opportunity, I would . . . . My heart is in Jessica Jones, but I did have a great time doing The Defenders with the guys. We had a good time. It is what it is.”
Which is, frankly, something of a relief to hear. The first, and hopefully only, season of The Defenders went wrong in a few fundamental ways which make a second season less than desirable. Real talk: The Defenders season two shouldn’t ever happen, and this is why.
The first season was routine & uninspired
First and foremost, The Defenders united three incredibly compelling superheroes. (Yes, we’re ignoring Iron Fist – more on that jackass next.) That combination should have been an astonishing, action-packed treat. Instead, the story was limp, lifeless, and lazy. The Defenders was full of predictable plot points and conversations crammed into episodes out of obligation to fan service, rather than good storytelling.
Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones all boast phenomenal, if overly long, seasons on Netflix. They’re loaded with intriguing plotting, witty dialogue, and complex characters, and all three prove a superhero narrative can be done exceptionally well on TV – perhaps even better than most Marvel movies.
The Defenders kept trying to make Iron Fist happen (and he never will)
The first season of Iron Fist proved a flaccid slap of a series when it should have been a supercharged, shattering blow. It also highlighted Danny Rand (Finn Jones) as an unremarkable, obnoxious, and bland character who sucks the energy out of every scene he’s in. While it’s understandable he was included as part of the overall ensemble – throw the kid a bone! – it was infuriating to see the story pivoting around his character simply because of Rand’s history with supervillain group The Hand.
The main issue here is those of us who dislike Iron Fist – and we imagine there are a lot of us – can choose to opt out of watching his series. But if we’re also big fans of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil and want to see them join forces to kick ass as The Defenders, then we also have to put up with Rand. He’s basically the baby brother of your coolest buddy who insists on tagging along and being annoying whenever you just want to go out, get loaded, and be rad. Go home, Danny.
The characters became derivative and dull in such a large ensemble
Perhaps the most basic flaw of The Defenders is that in its efforts to explore so many big characters at once, the show failed to do anything new with Jessica Jones (Ritter), Daredevil (Charlie Cox), and Luke Cage (Mike Colter). Instead, The Defenders relied on our preexisting ideas of these characters’ identities, what they’ve been through, and what they’re capable of to move the story forward, instead of developing the characters along with the story.
As The Guardian scathed in their review of the season, this reduced the characters to trite characterizations. “Daredevil is blind and reluctant. Jones speaks solely in offhand quips. Cage is seen only in yellow-tinted scenes soundtracked by hip-hop or R&B. Iron Fist is a whiny baby. This is basically all you need to know.”
The dialogue was predictable and poor
As entertaining as it was to see Jessica constantly sniping at Rand and Matt Murdock, or witness Luke being the superhero equivalent of a life coach with his stoicism and poise, the dialogue was consistently uninspired.
Conversations in the show didn’t flow naturally, but rather as an endless parade of trite superhero phrases spouted in a listless game of Netflix Marvel bingo. You could have planned a drinking game around the predictability of some of the dialogue, and been hospitalized by episode four.
Worse still, The Defenders featured such consistently awful exchanges it managed to make a Hollywood goddess like Sigourney Weaver (Alien) seem boring as supervillain Alexandra. Anyone who has spent the past thirty years gazing in awe at Weaver’s various thespian achievements will know something has to go seriously wrong somewhere for that to happen. Yet somehow, the writers of The Defenders managed to accomplish it with just about every scene featuring Alexandra.
The Defenders is unnecessary within the canon
It’s possible many of these issues – such as the characterization, poor dialogue, and overall mundane vibe of the show – are all kinks with the potential to be ironed out for a potential second season of The Defenders. Crucially, though, the main problem may just be audiences don’t need an ensemble series uniting the Netflix Marvel canon, when each standalone series is already doing a great job of providing crossovers between characters in ways not forced or banal as The Defenders sadly was.
Let’s just hope Rand and his Iron Fist remain contained in his own lackadaisical series so those of us with an allergy to his brand of bullshit don’t have to roll our eyes with fury should he spoil any of the other shows for us.