“The De­fend­ers” is the Marvel team-up you hoped for

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By David Be­tan­court

“The De­fend­ers” is the type of su­per­hero stream­ing that we’ve come to ex­pect from Net­flix’s live­ac­tion Marvel pro­duc­tions. Well worth the wait, the new show is ev­ery bit the event that Marvel fans hoped it could be.

The com­ing to­gether of the stream­ing ser­vice’s four su­per­hero shows — each with vary­ing styles on how to be a hero — works in part be­cause of how they fo­cus on why such a get-to­gether shouldn’t work at all.

But be­fore Dare­devil (Char­lie Cox), Jes­sica Jones (Krys­ten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) team up to de­fend New York City, the pro­duc­ers of the show di­vide the four into pairs.

Matt Mur­dock is still reel­ing from the pain of los­ing the wo­man he loved, Elek­tra (more on that later), and has left his Dare­devil/vig­i­lante days be­hind to fo­cus on be­ing the best lawyer pos­si­ble. And who should end up need­ing a good, af­ford­able at­tor­ney? Jes­sica Jones. (Jones is on the bad side of Misty Knight, played by Si­mone Mis­sick. Could Misty have a fu­ture as a De­fender, too?)

Mur­dock and Jones butt heads from the start as they re­al­ize they’re both in­ves­ti­gat­ing some­thing that con­nects to an evil scheme too big for the both of them.

That some­thing is Sigour­ney Weaver’s Alexan­dra, who may be the big­gest sur­prise of “The De­fend­ers.” She’s a com­pelling vil­lain with a mys­te­ri­ous past that bor­ders on the un­be­liev­able — we can’t say more than that with­out giv­ing too much away.

Also on Alexan­dra’s trail is Danny Rand, the Im­mor­tal Iron Fist, who re­al­izes that she is con­nected to some of his fa­ther’s com­pany’s pre­vi­ous shady fi­nan­cial deal­ings. Some of the grunt work of those deals is han­dled by young men in Har­lem, which puts Luke Cage into the path of the Iron Fist. Lit­er­ally: The two come to blows be­fore Cage gets a chi-glow­ing fist to the jaw.

The Luke Cage/Iron Fist combo is where “The De­fend­ers” gets a lot of its early magic. Al­though com­mon knowl­edge to the hard­core comic-book fan, but per­haps not the ca­sual viewer, Cage and Rand are one of Marvel’s most clas­sic, pop­u­lar comic-book duos.

Al­though their bro­mance starts off rocky, they be­gin to let their guard down and not pul­ver­ize each other, and be­come an on-screen duo fu­eled by geeky comic­book chi. It’s a treat to watch.

You’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing how well Iron Fist fits in on this new show, be­cause his name­sake se­ries was the first Marvel En­ter­tain­ment prod­uct in some time to re­ceive lessthan-pos­i­tive re­views from crit­ics and fans. But this isn’t “Iron Fist.” It’s “The De­fend­ers.” When Rand is teamed up with Cage, the mo­ments feel as cool as they were in­tended to be — and Rand has a much bet­ter hair­cut this time around. (If the Net­flix/ gen­tri­fied Iron Fist still just wasn’t your thing, you’ll at least en­joy Cage check­ing Rand on his priv­i­lege.)

Else­where, Elek­tra (Elodie Yung) is back from the dead (yes, you’ll see how) and serves as the last line of de­fense be­tween the De­fend­ers and Alexan­dra.

And so it seems Marvel’s con­nected Net­flix uni­verse is back on track with no ap­par­ent “Fist” hang­over. The big­gest ques­tion go­ing into this street-level hero team-up was how four shows with such dif­fer­ent vibes would come to­gether as one.

The best part of “The De­fend­ers”? Watch­ing how they make that hap­pen.

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