By now you may have heard that Marvel Studios is making a big bet on Netflix original programming. The comic studio is placing a number of its characters in Netflix’s capable hands, using the streaming service as a means of expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe without creating a whole new lineup of films. This process began earlier in 2015 when Daredevil’s first season became available. Rotten Tomatoes gave that first season a 98% positive review based on critics’ opinions, so it’s safe to say the whole Marvel/Netflix experiment has gotten off to a good start.
But there’s a whole lot more to come before this idea can safely be labeled a success. The Marvel/Netflix deal includes plans for four separate hero shows, as well as a Defenders miniseries (with the Defenders representing a team of heroes, similar to a smaller scale Avengers). In the comics, there are tons of characters who have been linked at one time or another to the Defenders, and in fact the Hulk is one of the main names associated. But for Marvel/Netflix purposes, here’s a bit on the four heroes expected to make up the core of the team, and where you may have seen them before.
By far the most visible of the Defenders characters, Daredevil was of course seen most recently in the 2015 Netflix season, played brilliantly by Charlie Cox. But even before this series debuted, Daredevil was in the public attention more than the other characters. Fans will recall the Ben Affleck film in 2003 that brought Daredevil to the big screen despite poor reviews, and the blind crime fighter has also maintained steady involvement in games. Betfair Casino’s lineup of slot games has included Daredevil for some time in the same collection as Avengers and other MCU characters. And in addition to popular casino content, Daredevil has been featured regularly in Kabam’s app Marvel: Contest Of Champions. It’s likely that all of this familiarity led Marvel to the decision to start things off with Daredevil, and the results have been encouraging.
For those who aren’t major comic fans, Jessica Jones may be the most obscure of the Defenders being brought to Netflix. But she also might be the most interesting, and the one with the most significant connections to the ever-expanding MCU. We Got This Covered delved into the character’s history as a former classmate of Peter Parker’s who was exposed to radioactive material and gained superpowers (strength, flight, and invulnerability). However, after dabbling in life as a superhero, Jones is traumatized by the mind control powers of the Purple Man, a known super villain from Daredevil comics, and tries to transition into fighting crime as a self-made secret agent. The trailer for the show is already out, featuring Krysten Ritter (best known as Jane from Breaking Bad) as Jones and David Tennant (Barty Crouch, Jr. from Harry Potter) as Kilgrave, aka the Purple Man. It looks haunting, to say the least.
Luke Cage is more or less a mercenary. He’s a childhood loner who’s recruited for experimentation and ends up with superpowers not unlike those of Jessica Jones (sans the ability to fly). Incidentally, Cage will appear in the Jessica Jones series before his own show debuts, and he’ll be portrayed by Mike Colter. Colter has appeared in numerous films and TV shows over the years without a true signature role, but his presence in the Netflix shows Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and The Defenders should turn him into one of the most visible Marvel characters.
Iron Fist stands out like a sore thumb among the Defenders. He may be a little more visible to modern Marvel fans than Cage or Jones due to his presence (like Daredevil) in Marvel: Contest Of Champions, the increasingly popular mobile game that’s getting its own comic book series adaptation. The character’s real name is Daniel Rand, and he obtains his powers through studying martial arts in the mythical, alternate reality land of K’un-L’un, where his parents are killed. He turns into a super martial artist with super strength in his fist and returns to New York to fight crime alongside Cage. Iron Fist brings a touch of the mystic and magical elements of Marvel to an otherwise more rugged and Earth-bound group of heroes, which makes him an interesting inclusion to the Marvel/Netflix Defenders concept. Also interesting is the fact that he’s the only one of the characters who hasn’t officially been cast yet. While noting that Ryan Phillippe has been rumored for the role, MoviePilot revealed in September that Ethan Arkin was listed on IMDB for the part; however, the actor’s IMDB page now shows no hint of this listing.
Each of these characters has deep ties to other Marvel heroes, which should help the Defenders concept to gradually merge with the MCU in the coming years. But even on their own, these Defenders have the potential to make for great streaming TV.