The Non-Nerds Guide to Marvel’s ‘Defenders’

The Non-Nerds Guide to Marvel’s ‘Defenders’

Marvel’s little-known team of outsiders and rebels is coming to Netflix. Here’s everything you need to know about the show you’ll be talking about in 2017.

When it comes to Marvel Comics these days, only two teams matter: The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Fantastic Four don’t exist, and The X-Men have been shunted off into their own weird corner. Left to barely interact with the rest of the larger Marvel Universe except when absolutely necessary. And then there’re The Defenders. You know, the name of the team being used in this sweet trailer for the Jessica Jones-Daredevil-Luke Cage-Iron Fist team up?

The Defenders haven’t had their own comic in a long time, and that’s not a coincidence for reasons we’ll get to. But for those of you who have seen the trailer for the upcoming Netflix show and are left with a ton of questions, I’m here to help with this handy guide for the non-nerds among us. Be warned, though, there are some potential spoilers here for the Netflix “Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage”, and “Daredevil” shows.

“The Defenders” is a pretty old comic from Marvel. It goes back to 1971 and had some weird stuff going on in it, like an Elf that randomly killed people for unexplained reasons. (Marvel later tried to explain just what the hell was going on with, and I kid you not this is his name, “Elf with a gun,” but that explanation just made things worse.) So in terms of anything from an actual “Defenders” comic, there’s not much you need to know beyond who is on the team.

The original, and most common version, of the team included Silver Surfer, The Hulk, Namor and Dr. Strange. You may have seen the Silver Surfer on screen in the forgettable “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” from 2007. Marvel doesn’t own the rights to him, though, so there’s zero chance he’ll pop up on the Netflix show.

Ditto with the Hulk for budgetary reasons, and because Marvel’s movie division is having this weird pissing contest with their television division. If you watch ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, you’ll notice the show has less and less to do with the films beyond some superficial things here and there. That, by the way, is also why the Netflix shows have little interaction or mention of what’s happening in the films. So if you are wondering if any of the Netflix Marvel heroes, or anyone from Agents of S.H.I.EL.D. will appear in a future Marvel movie, the answer is no. Blame Marvel CEO, and Trump donor, Isaac Perlmutter for that one.

For this very reason, it’s also unlikely we’ll see Dr. Strange or Namor pop up in “The Defenders” on Netflix. Dr. Strange has a film coming out in the Fall, and Namor’s rights only recently came back to Marvel, so the odds are good they’re saving him for a future film since all of their big leaguers are now on screen,

There are; however, other members of the Defenders including Valkyrie, Luke Cage, Beast and Hellcat. Valkyrie is making an appearance in the new “Thor” movie, and “Beast” you’ve seen on screen in the X-Men films. So, we won’t be seeing them on Netflix either.

That leaves us with Hellcat and Luke Cage, who has a show this Fall. Have you seen the trailer? It’s AWESOME!

Hellcat and Luke Cage is where the comic “Defenders” crosses over with the Netflix “Defenders”. The trailer says all you need to know about Luke Cage, so I’m going to focus on the other characters you should be paying attention to on the Netflix shows.

Hellcat is Patsy Walker; So if you’ve seen “Jessica Jones,” you know Patsy as Jessica’s bff. You’ve also heard Patsy offhandedly being called a “hellcat” and saw her working her ass off learning martial arts. Whether or not that pays off in the Netflix “Defenders” series is unknown, but given what I’m about to tell you, I’d be shocked if it didn’t come. Same goes for the Punisher, who stole the show in “Daredevil’s” second season. We’ll also be seeing Misty Knight (YESSSS!!!) in the “Luke Cage” show, so it’s possible she also joins the fray in the “Defenders” series.

Also, Marvel recently got the rights back to Blade and Moon Knight. So what I’m saying is here: We’re going into “Defenders” with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, but the odds are good they won’t be the only superheroes we see in the series. Marvel may even throw us a curveball and introduce White Tiger. She would be Marvel’s first latinx character onscreen and is currently rumored to have been involved with a pilot created for Netflix.

You see, in the comics, the “Defenders” aren’t a team in the sense that the Avengers are a team. The Defenders come together to fight a villain, and then they go and do their own thing. There’s a lot of infighting. There’re no team meetings. There’s often not even a headquarters when Dr. Strange is out of the lineup. The comic (and now the show) has been pitched as outsiders temporarily banding together to solve a problem. So the question is, what brings the Netflix heroes together? If you saw “Daredevil’s” season two, you know the answer: Elektra and The Hand.

Now listen, I wasn’t crazy about the boat load of ninjas found in “Daredevil’s” second season. The Hand and the sheer amount of ninja fights were probably the weakest part of the show. But if you saw “Daredevil” and was like, “LOL. Why are these ninjas digging a giant hole in Manhattan?” or “Wait, what’s happening with Elektra and that creepy box they put her in?” and “Why is Nobu still alive?” All of those things (and more!) was setting up “The Defenders”. Marvel did this with “Daredevil” because the plan was never for there to be more than one season of any of these shows. It was all supposed to build to “Defenders” and then end.

The popularity of “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil” have led to a reconfiguring, meaning we’re going to new seasons of “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil”, but it won’t be until AFTER the “Defenders” airs.

Also: If you are wondering who Micro is, that’ll be resolved in “The Punisher’s” series, which is currently in the works. That plot point likely won’t be settled in “The Defenders”. But The Hand will because The Hand is building an army of super-powered ninjas (because of course, they are). “Daredevil” hasn’t made it clear what exactly Black Sky is, but in the comics, The Hand worships a demon (because of course, they do), and the demon shows them how to bring people back from the dead. Hence, Nobu coming back and Elektra coming back, likely in the form of some super weapon to lead the ninja army against “The Defenders” in the show. Which, and this is just my suspicion at this point, is why I’m saying you will likely see other superheroes join our core four in some capacity or another. For example, maybe this is where / how Patsy becomes Hellcat? Or how Misty Knight gets her cool cyborg arm?

Sadly, there’s not a lot of comics I can safely recommend when it comes to “The Defenders” since the Netflix series is going with a different lineup. One that has never been used in the comics. (I have no doubt Marvel is currently putting one together featuring these four characters. It’d be dumb for them NOT to do so.) There is also likely no overlap with what’s happening on screen with movies like “Dr. Strange,” despite him often serving as the linchpin for the various heroes that get thrown together and call themselves defenders. But. What I can say is that you’re now completely caught up to speed with what’s going on within the Netflix universe, and that’s what matters. So far the Netflix shows have been great, so there’s no reason not to have high expectations for “The Defenders” when it comes out in late 2017.