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YMMV / The Defenders (2017)

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  • Acceptable Targets: The wealthy. All the Defenders join in on ribbing Danny for his privileged naivete. Luke specifically calls out Danny for attacking Cole as a "rich white man beating up a poor black kid".
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Alexandra is unceremoniously Killed Mid-Sentence by Elektra in Episode 6, without even making it to the Final Battle with the Defenders.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Previous Netflix MCU shows were criticized for dragging the stories on after the first half of their thirteen-episode seasons. The first season of The Defenders is only eight episodes long.
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    • After many complaints that the portrayals of the Hand in Daredevil and Iron Fist didn't fit well together and were just confusing, at long last this show gives us a singular depiction of them that fits reasonably well with everything seen beforehand. Justified in that the show was written around the same time as Iron Fist was going into production, so it's highly likely they always meant to gradually reveal the Hand and explain what they were over the course of the various shows.
    • Elektra finally gets a pretty comics-accurate outfit. And in his last scene, Danny Rand gets a take on his current (at the time of production) outfit as well, sans the yellow bandanna. He ultimately gets the yellow bandanna during Iron Fist season 2.
    • After his solo show shied away from the mystical elements of his backstory in favor of corporate drama, this show features Danny using the Iron Fist much more, his wealth is more actively used instead of boardroom scenes and they actually show a dragon. Well, a dragon skeleton, but still.
  • Awesome Music: Nirvana's "Come as You Are" is used again for the full trailer and it fits the theme of the heroes having to come together but not wanting to quite nicely.
    • The actual main theme is quite excellent as well, sounding similar to the Daredevil theme note  but with an Avengers-esque flair to it.
  • Badass Decay: A common criticism leveled at the Hand in this series is that they do not feel as threatening as they did in earlier appearances, particularly the second season of Daredevil. One particular complaint is that Sowande gets defeated by Luke entirely offscreen, and when the others appear, for the most part they only fight like normal but highly-skilled humans, with only Gao demonstrating any supernatural powers. In their defense, both Matt and Danny were more or less able to fight them to a draw by themselves, and now they are teamed up not just with each other, but with two more, even stronger, super-powered teammates.
    • When your villains can’t produce much of a threat beyond a relatively tame earthquake and killing a few dozen people, and repeatedly lose fights with the heroes in a miniseries where said heroes come together to stop them there isn’t really any justification for their threat.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Alexandra might be the biggest. One side of the fan base liked Sigourney Weaver's Alpha Bitch performance and found her motivations interesting. The other side found her to be a very underwhelming villain, nothing more than a Big Bad Wannabe whose legendary status was an Informed Ability. The fact she was the true leader of the Hand is another point of contention, especially because it was founded in the source material by the much more popular Nobu's comic counterpart; the fact that Alexandra is an original character with no comic book counterpart was presumably meant to make her seem unpredictable, but in a comic book adaptation arguably just telegraphs her as unimportant and expendable; the fact that she keeps pointing out how immortal she is presumably meant to make her mysterious and imposing, but in a comic book adaptation just makes her rather mundane.
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    • The same could be said for the Hand itself, or at least the Five Fingers. A complex group of flawed villains who transcend the cackling evil stereotype? Or a bunch of incompetent, squabbling children whose entire plan is simply stocking up on revival goo because they're so afraid of death, with the destruction of New York a mere side-effect?
    • Karen Page has been criticized for hypocrisy over her reluctance to support Matt as Daredevil given her proclivity for helping Frank Castle, while her supporters argue that this reluctance is justified due to her main problem being Matt's failure to be honest with her.
  • Broken Base: The fact that it's an In Name Only adaptation, lacking any of the signature Defenders from the comics, like the Incredible Hulk, Namor, Doctor Strange or the Silver Surfer. Those who dislike the change view it as disrespectful to the source material and argue that Marvel could've chosen any other name, especially since the show's premise is very similar to that of Marvel Knights, a short-lived team book from The '90s about a group of street-level superheroes. Those who don't mind the change argue that the name is much less awkward than "Marvel Knights," and that the name hadn't been getting much use anyway, since pretty much all of Marvel's attempts to revive the Defenders in the comics have ended up being cancelled, including a Defenders comic with this show's lineup.
  • Continuity Lockout:
    • Daredevil season 2 and Iron Fist season 1 are basically required viewing for watching The Defenders, seeing as elements of the Hand that were established in both shows. One does not need to have watched Jessica Jones or Luke Cage, although the latter does provide some background as to what put Luke in prison.
    • Actively subverted with Claire Temple. It was initially expected that she would be the person to bring the team together, given that she was the only person to appear on all four shows and meet them all, but the miniseries seems to go out of its way to downplay her history with them in case viewers hadn't seen the previous shows. There's no mention of her ever having met Jessica before, and her romantic history with Matt is left vague to the point of being subtext. In the end, she only formally introduces Luke and Danny (who'd already met and fought), and all the other members of the team meet organically without her.
  • Ending Fatigue: Over a third of the final episode is devoted to a bunch of very slow wrap-up scenes. Even worse, they're mostly based around the characters coming to terms with their grief over Matt's 'death', which for the audience falls squarely into Like You Would Really Do It territory (see below).
  • Evil Is Sexy: Elektra may be a villain now, but she's still played by the beautiful Élodie Yung.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • Matt's "death" in the finale has spawned a lot of fanfics concerning how Matt will reveal to his friends and allies that he's alive.
    • Since Sowande is an African Arms Dealer, one can only imagine if he ever had a business with another Arms Dealer Ulysses Klaue or came into conflict with Kingdom of Wakanda in at least one of his lifetimes.
    • The Defenders' absence in Avengers: Endgame has led a popular fanfic topic to be what if they did participate in the Battle of Earth or what they were up to during this time.
  • Fight Scene Failure: While the miniseries generally has fairly good fight choreography and editing, especially in comparison to its immediate predecessor, the very first fight scene (Danny and Colleen vs. Elektra) gets hit with this. The scene is admittedly at a cross purposes with itself, as it has to both conceal Elektra's identity, but also convey that she is now superhumanly strong and fast following her resurrection as the Black Sky, but in practice is just edited too frenetically for the audience to really get a good look at her or the way she fights. Keeping her identity a mystery is also somewhat unnecessary from a narrative standpoint; the viewer has either seen Daredevil (2015) and will probably know exactly who this shadowy figure is, or hasn't, so concealing her identity won't mean anything to them either way.
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • Madam Gao and Murakami are the only two Hand members not shown to explicitly die, by beheading. While Murakami was impaled on rebar, Gao was perfectly fine when the building came down. This has led many fans to assume she and possibly Murakami are still alive, and maybe even escaped with more life substance.
    • Many doubt Elektra is dead either given that thanks to being the Black Sky she is stronger and more durable then Matthew is, and he survived the destruction of Midland Circle right next to her. In fact it's entirely possible that she is the one who dragged his injured body to the convent in the first place.
    • The cancellation of the Netflix series means the Defenders who aren't Daredevil won't meet Frank Castle. Furthermore, what was he doing during the series?
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Back in "Nelson v. Murdock", when Foggy first found out about Matt's secret identity, one thing he said to Matt was, "You're going to get yourself killed if you keep this up. You know that, right?" By the end of the season, Foggy turns out to be right(-ish) and finds this out the hard way.
    • When Misty was shot in the arm by Diamondback in Harlem's Paradise, many thought she was going to get it amputated there, but it never came to happen due to Claire saving her in time. She only gets a grand total of one more year with that arm after Claire saved it, and loses it trying to save Claire's life.
    • Trish and Karen have a conversation at the police station where they talk about being involved in their superhero friends' lives, with Trish comparing her relationship with Jessica to what Karen has with Matt. But try watching this scene following season 2 of Jessica Jones, and knowing that Trish actually harbors a degree of jealousy towards Jessica, to the point that she relapses on Simpson's inhaler and goes so far as to kidnap Dr. Karl Malus to get Jessica's powers.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When Matt is subduing the thieves after the quake, we get a shot of him backflip kicking someone in an alleyway. Combine this with him being called a kid, this reminds you of when kid Matt in Daredevil did the same to a bully in an alleyway.
    • This is the second time a cast member of Aliens is revealed to be the leader of a dangerous organization in the MCU. The first time was Bill Paxton as John Garrett revealed to be the leader of Hydra in season one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., now Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra is revealed to be the leader of The Hand in this show. In her case, she doesn't last long in that role though.
      • Both die in the exact same way as well: shot/stabbed from behind in the middle of an overblown villain monologue.
    • Before the show came out, the group Sketch from Superheroes put out the short "Meet the Defenders". The short pokes fun at Danny's out there origins compared to the more grounded ones of the rest of the team. In the show proper, many of the Defenders' reactions to Danny's origins are almost word for word to the sketch.
    • Screencrush joked that they hoped that there were dinosaurs at the bottom of the pit. Well, dragons are close enough.
  • Ho Yay: Luke and Danny develop a quickly blossoming relationship, where Luke acts as the responsible older brother to Danny's gung ho younger brother.
  • Les Yay:
    • Once again Claire and Colleen have a lot of this, especially in the climax, where they borderline flirt.
    • Trish and Jessica have an indirect moment when Trish outright compares her relationship to Jessica to Karen's Ship Tease heavy relationship with Matt.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: The final third of the season finale really tries to convince us that Matt is dead. Trouble is, it had already been announced in July 2016 — a full 13 months before The Defenders was released — that a third season of Daredevil was coming. And even if it wasn't, this would be a weird writing choice after season 2 of Daredevil went to the trouble of setting up Wilson Fisk starting to seek revenge on Matt, Foggy and Karen.
    • It should be noted that fakeout deaths like this are less for the audience and more as a way to develop other characters. The audience knows that Matt is alive. But to all of the characters, Matt's death is very real and the effects it has on Foggy and Karen will progress the plot for Daredevil season 3. The audience are not fooled by the death but it still serves an overarching purpose. The trope comes into effect because comic books and their various adaptations tend to overuse this particular plot device to the point that it becomes a trope and death is nearly meaningless.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Madame Gao is a leader of The Hand who works with Wilson Fisk, first coming into conflict with the Defenders through her heroin trade in New York City. A manipulator extraordinaire, Gao operates by gaining leverage on powerful figures, having deeply ingrained herself into Danny Rand's family company and uses it as a front for her drug trade. A charismatic leader, Gao's followers have unwavering loyalty to her, her drug factory workers having willingly blinded themselves as a sign of faith in her. Ever calm in the face of her enemies, Gao manipulates Danny and his friends when they capture her, manipulating them into doubting each other and mocks them by pretending to be under the effects of their truth serum.
  • Memetic Loser: Danny is often on the receiving end of this, gets beaten up a lot by the other Defenders and frequently underfire from insults over his incompetence, especially from Stick who calls him a "thundering dumbass" which in itself was a meme. After his fight with Matt it became popular to dub the fight as "blind man kicks rich boy's ass."
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Defenders Assemble!"note 
    • "The Defenders will be fighting Zuul," after Sigourney Weaver was announced as the Big Bad but the studio still played coy about exactly what character it would be.
    • There has been a lot of mileage of how in Stick's quote, "You think the four of you can save New York? You can't even save yourselves," — "save" sounds like "shave."
    • It's been quite common among some fans to jokingly make Claire act like Phil Coulson or Nick Fury to gather the four main heroes with a similar sentence: "I'm here to talk to you about The Defenders Initiative."
    • Patty cake.note 
    • Daredevil has a better Iron Fist costume than Iron Fist does.note 
      • "You look like an asshole." "It's your scarf."explanation 
    • Luke finally got to have that coffee with Claire!note 
    • "Getting coffee" is firmly established as Luke and Claire's euphemism for sex. To the point that Luke goes all Deer in the Headlights when Jessica uses the euphemism in conversation, and a viewer may have unintentional snickers when Foggy uses it when asking Matt how he and Karen are doing.
    • "I trained him to fight a war. He decided to put on an outfit."note 
    • Danny Rand is a thundering dumbass.note 
    • Fans joking about how they feel like they're bad people for cheering that Misty lost her arm.
    • People are once more referring to Elektra Natchios as "Electric Nachos", thanks to Élodie Yung's pronunciation of her character's name.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
  • Narm:
    • Sowande's very long story about how he and his Hand mooks attacked K'un-Lun reeks of this, because the show doesn't bother to show any flashback clip depicting the event, instead we had to listen to him narrating it and gloating to Stick about how they killed the monks there, and leaving you to wonder whether he's telling the truth or just lying to taunt Stick.
    • Similarly, anytime Alexandra out-of-nowhere reminisces about any of her previous lives, such as referring Istanbul with its historical name Constantinople. It comes off as pretentious because all we see of her is a normal-looking woman living in the 21st century since the show doesn't bother to show any flashback of her lives.
    • The Matt, Luke and Jessica vs. Hand leadership fight in the parking garage in "Fish in the Jailhouse" has Luke and Jessica tag-teaming Madame Gao. Granted, she's a Badass Abnormal, but the sheer visual incongruity of two extremely physical types having trouble taking down a little old lady who walks with a cane is kind of hilarious. Of course it was already kinda hilarious before this, as in the fight at the Royal Dragon we'd had a moment where Jessica just decked Madame Gao in the most unceremonious way possible.
    • The Hand leadership boasting about being immortal - especially Bakuto in the finale - comes off a little silly when facing opponents who know to decapitate the body, making their immortality useless in the current scenario.
    • The big climactic group battle is darn near ruined by the inexplicable gangsta rap that's loudly played over it, taking you right the hell out of the scene immediately. Of course, to others, it's got Narm Charm going for it.
  • Narm Charm: The final fight being set to one of Wu-Tang Clan's classic tracks, given the rap group's focus on martial arts and ninja tropes, as well as Luke Cage meeting Method Man in-universe.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Turk Barrett once again being unlucky enough to be interrogated by Luke for information.
    • Father Lantom's appearance in "The H Word" when Matt goes to him for confessional.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Murakami for Nobu. In both seasons of Daredevil (2015), Nobu was an intimidating and dangerous villain who nearly killed Matt and actually killed Elektra. Not to mention, had very memorable fights scenes. By comparison, Murakami is more bland and less impressive, and frequently either losing or needing the help of other Hand fighters to pose a threat to any of the main characters.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Danny Rand has been the least popular Defender, but some fans have remarked that his fight choreography is better, and he seems much more likable, no doubt due to the show also being helmed by different showrunners (in addition, Season Two of his show had new showrunners, resulting in an improvement in quality). Many had been hoping since the release of his show that he'd work better as part of a team than having to carry his own story. It also helps tremendously that he gets better fight choreography (which Finn Jones also had more than ten minutes to practice). He gets his share of Take That, Scrappy! moments, but has more consistent characterization, much better action scenes, a more defined purpose, and great banter with Luke Cage.
  • Signature Scene:
    • "Jessica Jones, stop talking"
    • Danny punching Luke with the Iron Fist after Danny interrupts Luke's attempt to interrogate Cole.
    • The Midland Circle fight scene, which got the most focus in the trailer.
  • So Okay, It's Average: A small group of people feels that this series is one of the worst the MCU has to offer, and a large group of people seem to think it's great, but the most common sentiment by far and large is that it's a decent show with some great things going for it, some bad things going for it, and that if anything it's a major improvement over Iron Fist.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • After Stick cuts off his hand, there's a few shots where you can clearly see the stump of his right arm is just as long as his intact left one.
    • When Matt, Jessica and Luke go under Midland Circle in the elevator, it's very obvious they are standing in front of a blue screen as there are very distinct halos around them. The same thing happens when Murakami is thrown out of the elevator and down the shaft. It's shockingly clear that he's not a part of the surrounding scenery.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: It's been remarked that as a gritty series about a group of street-level heroes anchored by Daredevil, the show has much more in common with the short-lived Marvel Knights team from the 90's than it does any of the Defenders comics.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: After a stumble in overall quality with the first season of Iron Fist (2017), The Defenders — which serves as an immediate follow-up to the show — managed to get things back on track with critical and audience reception. With this in mind, there's still quite a bit of debate on how good exactly the miniseries is - reaction varying from a small minority thinking it was underwhelming, a good number of people feeling it's So Okay, It's Average, to another large group of people thinking it was great — it's just that everyone agrees that it's an improvement over Iron Fist.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Repeatedly with Danny. Although the creators have noted that his treatment in this series wasn't done as a response to his show being the most criticized (because The Defenders was written while Iron Fist was being filmed, and the season was almost in post-production by the time that show premiered). With Luke giving Danny a well-deserved knockdown a couple of times when they first met, and following up as the episode progresses he gives Danny a severe What the Hell, Hero? over roughing up Cole, when with his influence he could take the fight off the streets and into courts where no one would get hurt. This surprisingly gives Danny an idea to confront Midland Circle in his capacity as the head of Rand Enterprises, although Luke comes around to also see Danny's point-of-view when his approach fails to save Cole.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The Hand is depicted as a very ethnically diverse group of villains-which makes sense and has been received positively, seeing as they have worldwide influence, but the fact that not a single traditionally-dressed note  member shows up, unlike in Daredevil — all members dressing like that belonged to Murakami's faction, which is comparatively Out of Focus— has drawn some major contention, seeing as this is supposed to be the final battle against them. Ironically, this may be a case of Be Careful What You Wish For, as the Hand's portrayal in Daredevil Season 2 had caught some flak regarding Unfortunate Implications.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Sowande is the least focused on out of all of the Five Fingers of the Handnote  While Sowande is built up by other characters to be deadly, (allegedly having the ability to stop one's heart), however in the end he doesn't even get the decency of having an onscreen defeat, as Luke incapacitates him completely offscreen with apparently little trouble. Ultimately, he's just a plot device for the Defenders to find out the Hand's motivation, and for a reminder to the Hand leaders and the audience that they are no longer immortal. Some viewers have also expressed that they think Sowande could have been made more compelling if he had been introduced in Luke Cage (2016) season 1.
    • Dittos for Murakami, who many see as put in at the last minute simply to get a replacement for Nobu.
    • Many see this for Alexandra, given the choice to cast Sigourney Weaver in the part. But her only interaction with the entire main cast is at the Royal Dragon, and she's killed by Elektra at the end of episode 6 before she can ever do anything actually threatening.
    • Many viewers have felt that the supporting cast members who aren't Colleen or Misty were greatly underused.
      • Karen Page is a particularly notable case. Season 2 of Daredevil ended with Matt finally telling her his secret, which clearly is supposed to mean a lot as far as Matt and Karen's relationship goes because it's the first time we've seen Matt willingly confess his secret identity to someone.note  Yet in The Defenders, the impact of the reveal conversation on their relationship is relegated to being mentioned in passing. Interviews show that even Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll were disappointed that the reveal's impact on Matt and Karen's relationship was pushed to the side in The Defenders, with many viewers now hoping that Daredevil season 3 will backtrack a bit to fill in the gaps.
      • Trish Walker never gets to make use of her krav maga, not even in the one time where it would've come in handy (when Murakami made an attempt on her and Jessica). Also, she stays in the precinct with Karen, Foggy and Malcolm, rather than go down to Midland Circle. Admittedly, though, the fact that Trish was cut out of the Hand investigation and forced to stay on the sidelines certainly would explain her later drive to get superpowers in Jessica Jones (2015) season 2.
      • Claire Temple, as the crossover character who linked the first seasons of the solo shows, has a bad case of this. Back during her time on Daredevil, she was emphasized as an outsider, the audience stand-in, the mortal in a world of gods and monsters. But by the time of The Defenders, Claire has become a part of the strangeness now. And while that is a neat development, it also means she has lost the key elements that made her such a compelling character in the first place. This change is particularly obvious in The Defenders, in which Claire is actually one of the most informed, well-connected, least fazed characters in the show, and thus one of the least interesting. She hangs out in the background for most of the show, handing out clumsy advice and reminding the other characters how important and special they are. She doesn’t even get to perform her standard plot function of providing spectacularly daring medical help (unless you count her checking Matt over for injuries offscreen in "Fish in the Jailhouse"). In fact, The Defenders more or less treats Claire as a Luke Cage supporting cast member and as just "Luke's girlfriend and Colleen's friend", making no attempt to acknowledge her past relationship with Matt until a conversation with Foggy in the epilogue, and not even acknowledging her past encounter with Jessicanote  and the role that that played in getting Claire and Luke together. It doesn't help when Luke Cage season 2 basically treated Claire as nothing more than "Luke's girlfriend" too.
  • Too Cool to Live: Stick.
  • Unexpected Character: The very final scene introduces long-time Daredevil character Sister Maggie prior to making her onscreen debut in Daredevil season 3.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Cole is treated by Luke as a Justified Criminal who only got involved with the Hand because he's poor and needed money. The audience is supposed to agree with Luke that Cole didn't deserve to be attacked by Danny due to his background, and Luke having known Cole's sister. The problem is Cole wasn't committing some minor, non-violent crime in order to provide necessary support to his mother. He was part of a cleanup crew using acid to break down the bodies of people killed by an evil cult, and when we were introduced to Cole, we see that he's spending his money on frivolous luxury goods like a stereo system and expensive sneakers.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • "Mean Right Hook": Danny and Colleen are in a warehouse where they've found the bodies of recently killed Chaste soldiers. A group of cleaners including Cole enter the building carrying acid and a spray hose to dissolve the bodies. Danny and Colleen reveal themselves and engage the cleaners.
      You'd Expect: That the cleaners would try spraying them with acid.
      Instead: They put their acid cans down and instead fight Danny and Colleen with their fists.
    • "Royal Dragon": After fleeing Midland Circle and hiding in a Chinese restaurant trying to keep their presence a secret, Matt, Jessica, Luke and Danny are found by an injured Stick who explains that he found them because Danny tried to call Colleen. Stick smashes Danny's phone and reminds him that the Hand can trace their calls.
      You'd Expect: That they relocate to another safe place, probably somewhere like the Bulletin or Matt's apartment, before the Hand can get to the Royal Dragon.
      Instead: They stay put, and the Hand are able to follow them there.
      • Also from this episode: Matt has just recognized Elektra is still alive and has been brainwashed into being the Hand's top assassin.
        You'd Expect: That Matt, remembering how he burned his bridges with Karen and Foggy as a result of keeping them in the dark about what he was doing with Elektra during Daredevil season 2, as well as the closure of Nelson & Murdock, would immediately come clean with the other Defenders about who Elektra is and his attachment to her.
        Instead: He and Stick make it their little secret, meaning that when Elektra shows up for the fight at the Royal Dragon, the other Defenders are quite baffled when Matt splits off from them to fight her one-on-one. And things don't go over well when Matt is eventually forced to come clean about his ties to Elektra when interrogating Sowande.
    • "Ashes to Ashes": Stick, Matt, Luke, and Jessica decide that if Danny were out with them he would be easier to kidnap, so they need to hide him away.
      You'd Expect: That they listen to Danny's side, that hiding him away isn't a smart move, and let him have a say in the decisionmaking.
      You'd Also Expect: That Danny would keep his emotions in check so that the others might be more willing to listen to him.
      And You'd Also Expect: That since the four know the Hand had a habit of popping up when least expected, that Elektra could very likely find them and try to capture Danny.
      Instead: Between being shut out of the discussion, and not keeping his anger reined in, Danny lashes out at the group, forcing Matt, Luke and Jessica to tie him up.
      End Result: Elektra is able to capture Danny without him being able to defend himself, and she also ends up killing Stick and knocking out Matt, Luke and Jessica in quick succession.
      Even Moreso: Even if Danny had just cooperated and stayed behind willingly, it's unlikely that he could have stopped Elektra from capturing him if he fought her alone.
    • "Fish in the Jailhouse": Once Danny's kidnapped and taken beneath Midland Circle, Elektra outright tells him that the Iron Fist is needed to open the barrier.
      You'd Expect: That Danny realize that the one thing he shouldn't do during the subsequent fight with Elektra is summon the Iron Fist.
      Instead: He does. This leads to Elektra bullfighting him into punching the barrier with the Iron Fist. Granted, he spends most of the fight using his regular martial arts, and only activates the Iron Fist when Elektra pushes him to do it by taunting him.

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