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The Defenders

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Stick: You think the four of you can save New York? You can't even save yourselves.

Appearances: The Defenders

"More death is coming, and the only thing keeping Manhattan from crumbling into a pile of dust is the four of you."
Stick
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A team of street level heroes defending the mean streets of New York from more grounded threats.

    Members: 

  • 10-Minute Retirement:
    • Jessica Refuses The Call when she gets overwhelmed by the massive amount of information being hurled at her in the restaurant. A few hours later she finds out the Hand are watching Raymond's family, so returns to the restaurant just in time for the fight.
    • Matt at the start of the show hasn't done anything Daredevil-related since telling Karen his secret, out of guilt over Elektra's death and also over losing Nelson & Murdock. While getting ready for a court appearance, he briefly pauses mid-rehearsal when he hears a fight breaking out, but relaxes when he hears the police arriving to defuse the situation and resumes his rehearsing. After the earthquake, the amount of cries for help overwhelms him and he can't resist running to stop some looters and a store owner trying to shoot them with a shotgun.
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  • Alliterative Name: Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones.
  • Anti-Hero Team: They're a much darker, morally grey team compared to the Avengers.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Despite living through the Incident, to say nothing of their own super powers and dealings with the Hand, Kilgrave and Diamondback respectively, Matt, Jessica and Luke have a hard time believing in Danny's super powers.
    Jessica Jones: What are you on, lithium?
  • Badass Crew: Composed of four of New York's deadliest fighters.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Matt and Danny have a few fights where they have to fight in civilian clothing, hence, suits and ties.
  • Blood Knight: One trait that they all share in common. They are all broken people who have violent tendencies.
  • Canon Immigrant: The MCU version of the Defenders made it into the mainstream comics, featuring the same quartet.
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  • Civvie Spandex: Matt is the only member that wears a superhero outfit, the rest wear ordinary clothes.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Matt is associated with the color red. His necktie, glasses, cane, and Daredevil armor are all red. While we don't see it here, we know that he sees the world in red flames, and his motif evokes a lot of imagery of rage and punishment. His scenes, such as the church, are shot with red colors.
    • Jessica is connected with tones of blue - but no longer purple (except for a flash in her intro), due to her triumph over Kilgrave. Scenes focusing on her tend to look cold and unwelcoming, but her scenes which don't focus on her tend to show blue, hopeful colors, like the sky. She mostly wears entirely black clothing, except for her blue jeans, and scenes featuring her tend to feature blue furnishings and blue-filtered light or water.
    • Luke has a lot of warm, welcoming yellow colors in his scenes - he wears a yellow shirt, his hoodie has yellow accents, and he's introduced wearing an orange jumpsuit. His scenes show a lot of natural sunlight or lights through yellow shades, and most furnishings in his scenes are yellow or a light wood.
    • Danny primarily is shown with green, a very rich color, and he is the Defender with the most money. He wears green sweaters or jackets, his scenes such as Colleen’s dojo tend to have a lot of green hues, and his employees are also aware enough to compliment his company's green office space with green shirts.
    • Fittingly, the Royal Dragon where the four of them regroup, rest, and eventually decide to work together has all of the above colors in its decor and lighting. Even the neon dragon sign is lit only with red, blue, yellow, and green bulbs.
  • Color Motif: All defenders have their own colors frequently used as Color Wash or in uniforms. Matt uses red, Luke yellow, and Danny green. Jessica starts her series with Kilgrave's purple, but ditches it for blue (with an occasional flash of purple) by the time of The Defenders.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Only Matt and Danny go by actual superhero codenames.
    • Jessica turned down the idea of the codename "Jewel".
    • Luke has been casually called "Power Man" as a tongue and cheek reference to the comics but typically he simply goes by "Luke Cage". Of course, "Luke Cage" in and of itself is an alias taken to disguise his true identity as Carl Lucas, so technically he is using a codename after all.
    • "The Defenders" is never actually brought up In-Universe, despite not only being the name of the series but also its final episode (much like in Daredevil, where in its own respective titular episode the codename was first brought up).
  • Composite Character: Bears the name of the Defenders, but the "street-level" themed team more closely resemble the Heroes for Hire or the Marvel Knights.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: They're presented - first in their own individual shows and in this show - as gritty and urban crimefighters as opposed to the planet-level Avengers and the space-level Guardians.
  • The Cowl: In contrast to the Avengers who get to show off their heroics in public, saving lives and getting wide recognition. The Defenders hunt down criminals and typically sneak about in an effort to keep a low profile. Even with Luke and Danny who lean towards The Cape with the hope they inspire, they still primarily operate by barging in on the villain's turf and bringing them down.
  • Deadpan Snarker: An entire team of them. Jessica, being the most cynical of the group, puts extra emphasis on deadpan.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Each of the four team members has a Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Matt was blinded in a car accident when he was nine years old. His boxer father was killed shortly thereafter for refusing to take a dive.
    • Jessica lost her family, had to live with Trish's abusive mom, and has PTSD because she spent almost a year being mind-controlled by a sociopath.
    • Luke is an ex-Marine who later became a sheriff's deputy, then got framed for murder by his own half-brother. While in prison, he got subjected to beatdowns, was forced to fight in an underground boxing ring, and got his powers in a special experimental operation meant to save his life. He then broke out and spent the next few years on the run.
    • Danny is a billionaire heir whose parents were murdered by his dad's business partner. He has PTSD from surviving the same plane crash where he watched them die. The monks who raised him didn't help, as they beat him with sticks and taught him to suppress his childhood trauma instead of facing it.
    • As Stick puts it:
      Stick: You think the four of you can save New York? You can't even save yourselves.
  • Fights Like a Normal: All of them, except perhaps Luke, predominantly rely on ordinary punches when fighting crime. Though Danny can enhance his with the Iron Fist when required.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By the end of The Defenders, they become this: Jessica and Luke are true friends, Matt admits that he's glad to have met them all, Matt and Jessica manage to earn respect for one another and seeing how they are Not So Different, Danny and Luke get a budding bromance, and Danny is inspired by Matt to carry on his mission to protect the people of Hell's Kitchen and New York after Matt's Heroic Sacrifice.
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    • The street level counterpart to the Avengers. The Avengers are composed of high-profile respected heroes, while the Defenders are made up of lesser known heroes with relatively normal civilian identities (aside from Danny) and have more morally ambiguous reputations. Also, while the Avengers are more associated with protecting civilians and serve as a symbol of hope, the Defenders are vigilantes who are better known for punishing and striking fear into criminals. Furthermore, while the Avengers get the glory for stopping the major supervillain threat, the Defenders typically deal with the unforeseen consequences of the Avengers' victory (most notably the aftermath of the Chiaturi invasion). The Defenders also typically end up as Failure Heroes, receiving Bittersweet Endings.
    • Also the low-level Earth counterpart to the space-based Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians are a band of misfits and outlaws that ultimately show heroism and bravery worthy of their name, forge an unshakable bond that make them as close as family, and learn that Good Feels Good. Meanwhile, the Defenders are more eclectic group of cynical vigilantes and various flavors of Reluctant Hero with their own experience in crime-fighting and have all learned that Being Good Sucks.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Danny is the Optimist, Jessica is the Cynic, Matt is the Realist, and Luke is the Apathetic.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
  • Geodesic Cast: They form a team that contrasts with the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Jessica is probably the strongest in terms of raw physical power and strength, but she lacks the superhuman durability of Luke, the protective armor of Matt, or the defensive chi applications of Danny's powers, meaning she's still vulnerable to blades and gunfire and a car impact can badly weaken her until she recovers.
    • Danny's not nearly as durable as Luke or Jessica, and doesn't have protective armor like Matt, but at full power, his punches can far exceed the former two's Super Strength, as seen when he punches the floor of the Rand boardroom hard enough to upheave everyone standing on it and blow out all the windows with the shockwave.
  • Heartbroken Badass:
    • The trauma of Kilgrave is still hovering over Jessica, and her alcoholism has gotten worse. Her apartment is still damaged from the fight with Will Simpson.
    • Matt is still mourning over Elektra's death, to the point that he's given up on being Daredevil completely. In the meantime, he's doing pro bono law work for disadvantaged people in Hell's Kitchen. He and Karen Page are back on speaking terms, but are not quite sure about resuming their romantic relationship. In the first episode, he is seen going to confessional and opening up to Father Lantom about how difficult Elektra's death has been on him:
      Father Lantom: This other life you led. Is your heart still with it [Daredevil], or is your heart with the one who walked through it by your side?
      Matt Murdock: Elektra?
      Father Lantom: Yeah.
      Matt Murdock: I do miss her. But how do I know that the things she brought out of me were wrong?
      Father Lantom: From what you've told me about her, I think she'd be happy about how well you're doing.
      Matt Murdock: Maybe. Or maybe she'd tell me I'm abandoning that life and with it, her memory.
      Father Lantom: You're not abandoning Elektra, you don't have it in you. What you're doing, we call that 'moving on'. Purgatory is a place for the dead, Matthew, not the living. There's nothing wrong with letting people go. She'll find her peace. I pray you find yours as well.
  • Heroes Act, Villains Hinder: A sharp contrast to their Avengers counterparts. These heroes don't wait around for the villain to make a move, and actively take steps in bringing an established successful villain down. They do so by picking off the villain's lowly minions, slowly working up the hierarchy, until being able to confront the Big Bad themselves.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Not that Jessica is short (5'9), but the guys mostly tower over her (5'10 Matt, 6'0 Danny, 6'3 Luke). That being said, Jessica has Super Strength powers that put her on-par with the others in terms of power.
  • In Name Only: They have nothing in common with the Defenders team in the comics which was far from "street level", originating with most members being powerhouses like The Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Dr Strange. If anything the MCU team more closely resemble the Heroes for Hire, a for-profit superhero team founded by Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Basically, they are Heroes for Hire calling themselves "The Defenders".
  • Knight In Sour Armor: They've all been broken by the world around them, but they continue to fight for what they think is the right thing.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Several of these.
    • Jessica and Luke are forced to fight when Luke gets put under the control of Kilgrave, the fight ends with Jessica knocking Luke out with a point blank shotgun blast to the head.
    • Luke and Danny fight each other the first time they meet, with Luke mistaking Danny interrogating a Hand member as a mugging. Danny ends up using the Iron Fist technique on Luke, which actually works.
    • When Danny tries to leave the complex, Matt tries to keep him there for safety. Danny doesn't cooperate and attacks, leading Matt and Danny to fight it out, with Matt mostly kicking Danny's ass. The other Defenders intervene, to which Danny eventually knocks everyone back with the Iron Fist. However Jessica ends the fight by knocking Danny out with a punch to the face.
  • Mythology Gag: Matt and Jessica's first meeting, with Matt showing up while Jessica is being interrogated is a scene lifted right out of the comics, complete with the line "Jessica Jones, stop talking."
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: In a world of super beings, the Defenders are the "street level" heroes and far beneath the Avengers weight class, but they typically deal with villains and criminals with either less or no powers as well, hence are still able to be "super" in their own right.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Unlike their comic counterparts, Daredevil is the only one who regularly wears a costume.
  • One-Man Army: All of the Defenders are capable of serving as this, taking on whole squads of mooks on their own. The one time they couldn't fight the fight solo is when they are forced to form the team.
  • Outside-Context Problem: As a group, to the Hand. While the organization had experience with fighting Daredevil in his own second season, and a long history of being opponents to the various Iron Fists, most of the opponents they had been fighting so far were the Chastes, who were regular humans with ninja training. The current Iron Fist being backed-up by a team of other superhumans is something entirely new for them, and clearly something they aren't prepared for.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Defenders are usually a team of powerhouses and mystical heroes, while here they are composed of street level heroes.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • As Stick brilliantly puts it in the trailer:
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jessica and Danny are the hot-headed and reckless Red to Luke and Matt's rational and controlled Blue.
  • Similar Squad: The team holds a roster of similar roles to The Avengers.
    • Matt fills the role of Iron Man. Being the premiere hero and Breakout Character, first introduced in their respective franchises. Both excel at their day jobs which allow them to be both heroes in their secret identities and their alter egos. Both are one of the possible leaders for their respective Super Team, while both were also given their superhero codenames by the media.
    • Danny takes after Thor. Both are from a mystical culture that are trained to fight, with their powers derived from mystical means, and has trouble adapting to modern society. Both also have the most personal connection with the Big Bad that caused the team to form for the first time.
    • Luke is in the seat for Captain America. Both were experimented on to be Super Soldiers and have their physical attributes enhanced to superhuman levels. Both are idealistic heroes who want to see the goodness in people. Luke is even called "Harlem's Captain America" by Cottonmouth.
    • Jessica is in the seat of Black Widow. Both are (initially) the sole female members of their teams, but can kick ass just as fine as the other members. Additionally, both have a Dark and Troubled Past and have dealt with being Brainwashed and Crazy.
    • Stick is the stand-in for Nick Fury. The defacto mentors of the team who inform them of their purpose and guide them through their mission. Both have eye-sight problems, both are leaders of an organisationnote  that rivals the villains organisationnote , and both have resorted to morally questionable means.
    • The only member of the core Avengers who's absent is a Bruce Banner/Hulk figure.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Danny -> Luke -> Matt -> Jessica.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Jessica's and Luke's Super Strength as well as the latter's Nigh Invulnerable skin are glossed over in some fights. Although one could make an argument that the Hand's members are somewhat superhuman themselves considering their resurrection and enhancements, the same people then also fight on par with Badass Normal's like Colleen or Matt. Justified in Luke's case: Stick says he could do a lot more damage if he didn't pull his punches, but Luke says he doesn't want to kill anybody. In fact, he very likely would've been able to subdue Elektra if Stick hadn't gassed him with that incense.
  • Super Strength:
    • Luke and Jessica's main strength.
    • Danny when he's using the Iron Fist.
  • Superhero Speciation: Played with, as most of the Defenders powers amount to some form of hitting people.
    • Jessica and Luke have superhuman strength as their main powers. Matt and Danny have vastly different powers (super-senses, the Iron Fist) but use martial arts as their main mode of attack.
    • On the other hand, Jessica is not bulletproof like Luke (Audrey Eastman called her bluff), but can run more quickly and jump higher than he. Although Matt doesn't have Danny's mystic abilities, he makes up for it with his heightened senses.
    • In a way, the whole team forms a spectrum from Badass Normal to flat-out superpowered:
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: They deal with the smaller threats local to New York that get overlooked by the Avengers.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Despite the Defenders series being billed as a superhero team-up, and all four heroes getting equal screentime, it mostly revolves around Matt, Danny, and the mystical war between the descendants of K'un-Lun. Once the initial incidents draw them into the investigation, Luke and Jessica are mostly muscle, and their Myth Arc about IGH and Reva's experiments go unmentioned and unrelated to the Hand's plan.
  • The Team: When faced with a threat that none of them can deal with on their own, they band together to fight in the "War for New York".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Much like the Avengers, they don't all get along with each other immediately. Jessica was weirded out by Matt when he abruptly shows up in her life, while Luke and Danny get into a fight with each other. Jessica also keeps her cold snarky attitude towards the rest of the team.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: As noted in their individual sections, all four of them have codes about killing their enemies, though to varying degrees; Matt openly touts it as his number-one rule and even goes out of his way to prevent allies from landing kills. Luke also actively refuses to kill and has to restrain himself during fights to avoid landing fatal blows on his opponents. Jessica killed Reva on Kilgrave's orders, and only killed Kilgrave after all other non-fatal attempts to stop him failed. Danny almost killed Harold Meachum but was spared the blood of murder by Ward showing up to finish him off. After all the atrocities that the Hand commit while coming after them, and with their global power and influence, the Defenders ultimately conclude that they have no choice but to kill the Five Fingers of the Hand just to make the nightmare stop.
  • True Companions: As much as Luke and Jessica don't want to admit it, they do end up becoming this to Danny and Matt. Colleen says that she and the Defenders are starting to fill the hole that the death of Danny's parents left him with, which means that they're as important to Danny as Colleen is. Later, Matt admits that while he wished the circumstances of meeting them were different, he is ultimately glad that he managed to find people like him.
  • Token Minority: Luke is the sole non-white Defender. Matt could also be included, as he is the only one with a physical disability thanks to his blindness. Jessica is the also the sole female member.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Luke and Jessica have some shade of this, as Jessica still shows some level of attraction to Luke, but he's currently hooked up with Claire.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Compared to Luke and Jessica, this is Matt and Danny. Danny has access to super-strength when he wields the Iron Fist, but that's inconsistent. Matt is this again compared to Danny, which he demonstrates by handing Danny his ass before taking cover from the Fist.
  • White Male Lead: Matt is the most conventionally super-heroic of the four, while the Hand's scheme was started in Daredevil season 2 and Iron Fist season 1. Matt even symbolically passes the torch to Danny at the end, despite his competence having been called into question through most of the series. Jessica and Luke have some cool moments, but have to be brought in to help via cases that are tangential to the plot.
  • Working-Class Hero: All of them save for Danny come from these roots. Matt comes from a working-class background and mostly handles pro bono legal work for disadvantaged people in Hell's Kitchen who can't afford the higher-priced firms. Luke deals with street crime in Harlem. Jessica is a private investigator who has clients of all backgrounds, both rich and poor.
  • Working the Same Case: Each of the four are investigating the criminal activities of the Hand, and find themselves in Midland Circle at the same time.
    • Jessica is tracking down John Raymond, after receiving a threatening call from someone using a voice scrambler to not take the case. When John kills himself rather than let Elektra kill him, she gets brought in by Misty, who caught her stealing evidence from the crime scene. Matt gets dragged in through this case as Foggy sends him to be Jessica's attorney, and he follows her to Midland Circle.
    • Luke is working with Misty Knight to track down Cole, after Cole's brother becomes the most recent victim in a string of murders in Harlem of young men who are getting recruited into a mysterious well-paying job associated with the Hand and then get killed off very shortly thereafter. He and Danny end up encountering each other while coming upon a “clean-up” project sponsored by The Hand. After Luke and Danny get into a fight caused by Luke interrupting Danny's attempt to interrogate Cole, Claire and Colleen get them into the Chikara dojo and force them to realize they're on the same side.
    • Danny and Colleen are already investigating the Hand, and have had a setback when, while following up on a lead in Cambodia, Elektra attacks them, wounds Danny, and kills the man they were seeking to get information out of.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Matt and Jessica meet when Matt, out of the blue, shows up to provide impromptu legal counsel while Misty is interrogating her.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Played With. They don't all actually meet up in the Royal Dragon, but immediately after all four do meet in Midland Circle, they run into the Royal Dragon to lay low. Danny convinces the owner to let them stay by paying his rent for the next six months, and ordering "four of everything." Stick finds them shortly thereafter, and thus begins an Info Dump that sets up our heroes teaming up to defeat the Hand.

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