Thursday, March 26, 2015

All About the Defenders

Marvel TV is beginning its expansion into Netflix in just a couple of weeks on April 10 with the release of the full first season of Daredevil, which will follow Matt Murdock’s evolution from a blind lawyer with enhanced senses into a masked vigilante dealing out justice against the criminals the legal system missed.

In anticipation of Daredevil’s release, I’m going to publish a series of articles over the next three Thursdays to talk about some of my thoughts regarding the Marvel/Netflix shows, connections to the larger MCU, and the future of Marvel/Netflix and the Defenders.  If I can, I will follow it up with reviews of Daredevil season 1 (we don’t have Netflix yet, though we will probably get it before the end of the month).

First up is a *brief* summary/description of each of the title characters, along with connections between them and other characters who have appeared or will appear in the MCU.

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In the comics, Matt Murdock suffered a childhood injury in which chemicals fell on his face and blinded him.  However, the same chemicals that cost him his sight also enhanced all his other senses, giving him the ability to “see” using his senses, specifically hearing and smell.  A blind martial arts master (Stick, who is appearing in the series) taught Matt martial arts and helped him to hone his enhanced senses.  As a lawyer, Matt Murdock seeks to help those who are in need to find justice.  When the justice system fails, however, he takes the law into his own hands as the Daredevil.

Daredevil has teamed up with a number of other heroes throughout the years, including Spider-Man and Black Widow.  More importantly, he’s also been connected to Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.  Jessica Jones served as Murdock’s bodyguard for a while.  Luke Cage and Iron Fist are both friends with Daredevil; Iron Fist even impersonated him for a while after his secret identity was discovered as a way to throw suspicion on Daredevil’s secret identity in the public eye.

Daredevil will be joined sometime later this year by A.K.A. Jessica Jones, about a retired superhero who received superpowers (flight, limited invulnerability, and super strength among others) in an accident which killed her family.  Note:  Jessica Jones has already started filming and is expected to be released later this year.

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Born Jessica Campbell, Jessica Jones was adopted by the Jones family after her family died in the car crash in which she was exposed to the chemicals which gave her superpowers.  After discovering her powers, Jessica fights crime for a while using the alias “Jewel” before the super villain the Purple Man (confirmed to appear in the A.K.A. Jessica Jones series) hypnotized her into becoming his slave.  Though she eventually escaped his power, the abuse left her suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—so much so that she decided to leave behind costumed crime-fighting permanently.  Following her abandonment of the superhero lifestyle, Jessica started a private detective agency, using her superpowers to help other superheroes with their own cases.  She tried being a superhero a couple of other times, once as “Knightress,” and then as “Power Woman” at the behest of Luke Cage, aka “Power Man.”

Jessica Jones has also been connected with a number of other superheroes, especially with Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel, who was one of Jessica’s closest friends as a hero and then one of her regular clients as a private detective, and with Trish Walker, aka Hellcat.  She also dated Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, for a while.  As I mentioned above, Jessica worked for Matt Murdock for a while as a personal bodyguard.  However, her closest association is with Luke Cage, whom she eventually married and with whom she has a child.

Though it has not been announced yet, presumably, next year we will get Luke Cage, the series based on Jessica Jones’ husband.  Note:  This series is probably going to start production sometime this year, though I haven’t noticed any casting announcements beyond Luke Cage himself.

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Luke Cage grew up in Hell’s Kitchen before being arrested and sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  While in prison he volunteered for an experiment in return for a reduced sentence.  The experiment, part of a super-soldier program attempting to recreate the super-soldier serum that created Captain America, didn’t go exactly as planned, but still gave him super strength and invulnerable skin.  Using his new abilities to break out of prison, Cage returned to his old neighborhood, where he used his powers partly to clean up the neighborhood and punish criminals (using the superhero name “Power Man”) and partly as “hired muscle” to earn an income.

Luke Cage has been connected with several different heroes and teams, including the Avengers, New Avengers, Mighty Avengers—even Steve Rogers’ new Thunderbolts team as its team leader to keep the semi-reformed villains in line.  As mentioned above, Luke is married to Jessica Jones and friends with Daredevil.  His closest and most longstanding association, however, is with Danny Rand, aka “Iron Fist,” with whom he started the Heroes for Hire—super-powered muscle-for-hire working for the highest bidder, though they always seem to find themselves doing the right thing, paycheck or not.

The release year has not been announced yet, but sometime next year they will probably also release the final full-length series in this “phase”:  Iron Fist.  Note:  There haven’t been any casting announcements for this series yet, not even for the title character.
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Danny Rand became the Iron Fist when he studied with a martial arts master in the mystical city of K’un-L’un.  As the most gifted student, Danny earns the right to fight and defeat a dragon, whose heart gave him the power of the Iron Fist.  This gives him the ability to concentrate his chi.  Concentrating it through his fist gives him a very powerful attack, while concentrating it on himself or someone else allows him to heal that person.  When he returned to New York City, he became a crime fighter and joined Luke Cage to start the Heroes for Hire.

As noted above, Iron Fist is very closely connected with Luke Cage as part of the Heroes for Hire, and also with Daredevil, whom he impersonated for a time.  Iron Fist is also associated with the New Avengers, as well as the other heroes who were part of the Heroes for Hire:  Misty Knight and Colleen Wing.

Once all four of these heroes have been introduced in their own series, they are going to team up as the Defenders in their own mini-series.  It has not been announced when The Defenders will be released, but I would guess either late next year (2016) after Iron Fist or early the following year (2017).

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The Defenders is a superhero team created in 1971 with three members:  Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner.  Here is a list of some other significant members who have appeared or could appear in the MCU:
Current MCU Avengers:
  • Hawkeye
  • Captain America
 Characters who have appeared in the MCU:
  • Falcon
  • War Machine
  • Drax the Destroyer
 Characters confirmed to appear in the MCU:
  • Yellowjacket (Hank Pym) (Note: Hank Pym isn’t actually going to be Yellowjacket in Ant-Man)
  • Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) (as of now Janet Van Dyne isn’t appearing in Ant-Man)
  • Ant-Man (Scott Lang)
  • Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
  • Spider Man
  • Black Panther
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Vision
  • Hellcat (Trish Walker, appearing in A.K.A. Jessica Jones)
 Other possible MCU characters:
  • Moon Knight
  • Ghost Rider
  • She-Hulk
  • Black Cat (part of the Spider-Man Universe)
  • Black Knight
  • Valkyrie
  • The original Guardians of the Galaxy team (as associate members)
  • Howard the Duck
  • Nova
  • Moondragon (Drax’s Daughter)
  • Daimon Hellstrom (who eventually marries Trish Walker)

In the TV series, the Defenders—Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist (all of whom but Jessica Jones appeared on the comic book Defenders at one time or another)—will presumably team up in order to confront a major villain or villain team that is threatening Hell’s Kitchen, where they are all based.

I have two other posts planned for this mini-series on The Defenders:  First, an overview of the known connections between The Defenders Universe and the main MCU as well as some speculation about possible future connections.  Second, a look ahead to what may be coming next in the Marvel/Netflix The Defenders Universe after these five series.

What are you most looking forward to from Daredevil?  Who is your favorite member of the Netflix Defenders team?

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