With the release of Marvel’s Iron Fist earlier this year, we now have first (and the occasional second) seasons for all of the individual Defenders: Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand. However, each of these individual series had their pros and cons, and Iron Fist was so bad that I kind of never wanted to see anything with Danny Rand in it ever again. But now the full-length trailer for Marvel’s The Defenders is out, and it’s actually a little…. entertaining?
We open on Jessica Jones being interrogated by Misty Knight over something having to do with a crime, when Matt Murdock pops his head in and tells Jessica to stop talking—he’s her lawyer now. Luke Cage, meanwhile, comes back to Harlem, reunites with Claire (and is, it’s implied, with Claire), and then sasses and fights with Danny Rand, which I will admit is a scene I’ve desperately been wanting to see. Also, Jess tells Matt that his usual methods of “disguise” makes him look like a goddamned idiot.
Thus we’re introduced to the Defenders. The banter and interactions between the four of them and the side characters in their respective shows is fantastic, and I already want to see more of how the four will interact with and grate on each other. Jess and Luke worked well together in Jessica Jones, but there’s definitely going to be some residual awkwardness there from the events of the end of her series. I can’t see Matt and Jess (and their respective views toward superherodom) getting along, and I’m beyond excited about Luke just verbally eviscerating Danny 24/7. Is there some found family tropiness in our protagonists’ future? We shall see.
However, though we don’t get a lot about the main plot, what we do get is already confusing. I kind of assumed that the Hand’s appearance in Daredevil and Iron Fist would mean that the Hand was going to be the big bad that the Defenders fought, but it seems like our main baddie is going to be Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, and it’s as of yet unclear what her role will be—maybe she’ll be one of the many leaders of the Hand? It’s not that I particularly want the Hand to be around (I could obviously do without their gangs of roving ninjas), but it makes me wonder if the Netflix execs are still unclear on how they’re perpetuating racist tropes. With Iron Fist’s Bakuto and potentially Alexandra as Hand leaders and Madame Gao nowhere to be seen, the Hand’s status as a faceless Asian enemy is undone. It’s now just… a roving gang of non-Asians who are basically still acting as ninjas, because ninjas are “foreign” and scary.
At the same time, Colleen Wing and Elektra are listed as actors in The Defenders, and they’re both (spoilers) former or current agents of the Hand. As Elektra is the Hand’s so-called “doomsday weapon”, we would reasonably expect her to be a villain, and hopefully it won’t happen in a manpain-for-Matt way. If Alexandra is associated with the Hand in some way, we would now have non-Asian leaders more-or-less controlling Asian characters, while acting as “ninjas” themselves. These kinds of racist undertones would certainly fit into the general mythology of the Marvel Netflix series, but it’s not necessarily a trend I wanted to see continued. I’m hoping that as time goes on, we’ll get more information about the villains and the plot of The Defenders before we actually sit down to watch it.
The Defenders is out on Netflix August 18th! Let me know if you’ll be joining them in the comments.