Netflix did two great Marvel series ― Daredevil and Jessica Jones…well, the first season of Daredevil, anyway. The second? Meh. There’s been no second season of Jessica Jones (yet) so it remains great. Netflix then did two not-so-great series: Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Luke Cage couldn’t figure out what it was, another noir-ish Daredevilish series or a Blaxploitation film. Iron Fist? Flat out disaster. Obviously, the four were heading to a Defenders team-up series and yep, here it is, a chance for Netflix to right some wrongs and bring the characters up to the Jessica Jones/1st-season-of-Daredevil level…
I suspect some corporate people walked in right after the first seasons of Daredevil/Jessica Jones and said we need to add more cowbell. That’s why we got the Hand in Daredevil #2, instead of the expected and logical follow-on, the Rose.
That’s why the uber-urbanization of Luke Cage, who gets the theme song from Shaft every single time he strolls on screen (I expect everyone to break into a pimp roll), and the silly hippie-dippy Danny Rand. And that’s why the Defenders simply don’t work. Too comic-booky, too ridiculous. Too much cowbell.
Let’s start with the Hand which, at the end of Daredevil and Iron Fist, was some shadowy ninja crime organization led by the creepy and formidable Madame Gao and we’re not quite sure what’s their deal but they’re messing around with resurrection or something. We did get the best Punisher ever out of it, so it’s a wash. But now the Hand is this solar-system wide hyper-super-crime-running-everything Asian Hydra led by immortals and Ripley from Alien, with Madame Gao reduced to some simpering poodle. Thanos-level bad guys, they are, so the Avengers should be handling this. But no, to save us we get four bickering angst-ridden C-list street fighters working out their Personal Issues, which means we’re so doomed. Fortunately, the Hand is every bit as incompetent as they are ridiculous. Must have something to do with all that dragon blood they’re drinking.
The Hand is intent on dropping Hell’s Kitchen down a deep tunnel, and they need Iron Fist in order to do this. Why? Beats me, but it has something to do with the dragon blood, which apparently addles the mind because, Madame Gao, you HAD Iron Fist back during the Iron Fist series. Had ‘im! In your clutches! And you let him go. Bit short-sighted, wouldn’t you say? You’d think you Hand guys would work this stuff out ahead of time. Would have saved us a lot of third-rate badly choreographed martial arts fights all shot in the murkiest filtering possible so you can’t see how really bad Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick are.
More evidence of the Hand’s incompetence: Elektra. The Hand throws Elektra into one of their stone coffins and pumps it full of their last bit of precious dragon blood and create…Elektra! They’re calling her the Black Sky, but don’t be fooled, it’s Elektra. Looks like Elektra, fights like Elektra, just minus the attitude, so dousing her in dragon blood made her incrementally more pleasant. Certainly wasn’t to give her enhanced fighting powers, at least, not until the last two or three episodes when someone over there woke up and went oh crap, if we’re going to make Elektra into something called the Black Sky we should give her some kind of abilities that go with such an ominous and obscure name change. In other words, her kicks got better. No wonder the other immortals are PO’d at Ripley.
No wonder the Avengers didn’t bother showing up because the Hand couldn’t fight its way out of wet paper bag. Here you’ve got Madame Gao, who can point her finger and break down walls, and Ripley and some sword slingers and about ten thousand immortal ninja fighters and the Black Sky and they can’t even beat Daredevil by himself, much less the rest of the Defenders. Heck, a couple of traffic cops could have cleared this all up.
Not Iron Fist, though. He couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag, either, because that fabled Iron Fist? We get to see it for oh, say, a minute and a half during the entire series. And then, only when Danny goes through about twelve hours of meditation, and then only for about three or four seconds. When it does show up, it’s a mofo, but all the Hand has to do is wait for Danny to angst himself out of the glowy hand and then beat the crap out of him and then trick him into getting glowy hand back for the two or three seconds they need to smack down some wall (which Madame Gao could have knocked down over lunch) to get the dragon blood. So, Danny Rand spent his whole life working out twelve hours a day in some snowbound hellhole and then plunged his hand into the molten heart of Shou-Lao the Undying, just so he could chant up glowy fist every ten days or so?
Dude, you got gyped.
As did we.