It’s hard to defend something that you know could be a lot better, which is certainly the case with “The Defenders.”
The series had a lot of hype leading up to its release but falls short in several areas. The story progresses slowly except for when it jumps ahead in short, abrupt bursts. The action is chaotic and frenetic, which makes it hard to enjoy at times.
To understand what went wrong, we’re going to look back at Marvel’s past successes.
In 2012, Marvel released “The Avengers.” It was the culmination of several years of work that brought together big names for a star-studded, action-packed affair. The formula for its success was simple: introduce the main members of the superhero team with their own opening films while laying down the elements for the larger story that will eventually bring them together. The film was a commercial and critical success, setting the stage for the Marvel films and TV shows that followed.
Now, it seems that Marvel tried to use this formula in “The Defenders.” The show introduced each member of the team with their own standalone sequences, most of which received critical acclaim, before bringing them together in a unified series. That formula didn’t quite work this time though. It didn’t feel like the synthesis of a team that was united to achieve a singular goal the way “The Avengers” did. Instead, it felt like we were watching a group of students that had to work on a project together against their will. Sure, they passed the class, but just barely.
There are a number of reasons why “The Defenders” struggled. The short and simple explanation is that it made things overly complicated. There were too many characters, too many details and too many plots to keep up with. There were even too many enemies during the fight scenes! “The Avengers,” in contrast, kept things simple. It included only the essential characters in a story that was fairly straightforward and relied heavily on action sequences.
Taking a step back, it’s easy to see why “The Defenders” is the way it is. The success of Marvel’s Netflix shows has largely been due to intricate plots and character development. It worked for Marvel in the format that it used for Netflix and it makes sense that it would want to carry on with it. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate well considering how much Marvel tried to fit into an eight-episode series.
This won’t be the last time we see the “The Defenders,” but hopefully it’s the last time it’s this bad.