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– by David Kozlowski

The Defenders Season 1 hits Netflix on Friday, and I think we can safely say that there will be a Season 2, particularly since the next seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have already been announced. Early reviews of The Defenders are hitting Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and the word is very positive overall. So, since it’s never too early to speculate, let’s talk about who should join the team going forward.

Marvel’s The Defenders comic book debuted in 1971 by creator Roy Thomas.The team was initially made up of Dr. Strange, Namor, and The Hulk (who were soon joined by Valkyrie and Silver Surfer), and their early focus was very much in the Cosmic realm. In the team’s first comic book arc, Dr. Strange teams with Sub-Mariner and the Hulk to protect the Earth from invasion by Lovecraftian interplanar beings known as the Undying Ones and their leader, the Nameless One. Clearly, this bears little connection to the modern-day New York streets of the Netflix mini-series


Related – The Defenders: Teaser Trailer Analysis


The Defenders comic book has been cancelled and resurrected several times over the decades, and its roster constantly rotating. Heroes from across the Marvel spectrum have appeared in The Defenders comics, including some really offbeat (and sometimes really obscure) characters, including: Yellowjacket, Spider-Woman, Moondragon, Nova, Atlas, and Nighthawk.

Obviously, the Netflix version of The Defenders is a street-level team, so aliens, rage monsters, and the Sorcerer Supreme are off the table… or are they? Marvel and Netflix have already shown interest in adding more characters to each of the individual series. However, I expect The Defenders to be something of its own beast, whereas each season is a distinct, singular event with a varying roster of all its own.

So who should join Netflix’s The Defenders in Season 2?


Hawkeye (Clint Barton)

 

Hawkeye is an early member of The Defenders (issues #7-10) — and just about all of Marvel’s other teams too. Hawkeye is kind of the unofficial glue of both the Marvel universe and the MCU, and he could add a valuable spark of humor and variety to the team. Given that Luke and Jessica are both super-powered “tanks” and Daredevil and Iron Fist are close-quarters fighters, the team could really use a ranged hero, a standoff character who can employ trick arrows to provide cover or distraction from a safe-ish distance, while the rest of the team engages at point blank distance.

Hawkeye actor, Jeremy Renner, recently stated that he’d be interested in joining the team, which is after all part of the MCU. According to Comicbook.com, Renner said:

“These are things that are really not in my control, but I’d be open to it. I’ve really enjoyed getting to explore the character more recently. The Netflix model is where all the character drama goes to now, you’re doing a superhero movie or a Netflix or HBO kind of model. So I’d be open to it. Not up to me, though.”


Hellcat (Patsy Walker)

Patsy Walker (Rachael Taylor) is already a key character in Netflix’s Jessica Jones, a lifelong friend and ally of Jones (Krysten Ritter). In the comics, Walker is the hero Hellcat, but she originally debuted way back in 1944 in Miss America Magazine #2, a teen-romance comic (published by Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel); in Jessica Jones Walker’s backstory was retconned into a young adult TV show “It’s Patsy.”

In the comics, Walker became the character Hellcat in 1972, when her character was resurrected from her teenager roots by writer Steve Englehart. Hellcat, who appeared in The Defenders #44, as a street-level fighter with mystical abilities (sensing mystical phenomena, generating force fields), plus possessing a pair a retractable claws and grappling hooks.

While Jessica Jones’ version of Walker hasn’t demonstrated any extra-normal talents nor worn a costume (yet), it’s not unreasonable to expect that her character will further develop into a fighter — she was actively practicing Krav Maga in Jessica Jones Season 1. While Netflix’s The Defenders has plenty of close-quarters scrappers, adding a character with force fields, claws, and a grappling hook could really add some variation to the team-ups, and another strong female presence. Besides, claw-hands are just cool… probably a primal thing.


Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch)

 

Marvel and Netflix certainly haven’t shied away from supernatural elements in both Daredevil and Iron Fist; their shared enemy, The Hand, are a mystical force who can resurrect (or at least reanimate) the dead. If Marvel/Netflix continue down this mystical path, adding “The Spirit of Vengeance” seems kind of logical (kinda).

The Ghost Rider mantle has been worn by several characters over the years (in the comics, TV, and film). The Secret Defenders (a team that debuted in Dr. Strange #50) included Danny Ketch (the third iteration of Ghost Rider) who employs a heavy chain as a primary weapon, which is infused with magical properties and also spews hellfire. Ketch also has a power called, “Penance Stare,” which causes intense emotional pain in his victims. Ghost Rider would be a wildcard character, much like The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) appeared in Daredevil Season 2; he’s truly an agent of chaos who may or may not play nice with everyone on the team, but he’s essentially indestructible and would be a significant asset should Marvel invest in heavyweight enemies from Marvel’s darker and more supernatural realms.

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series introduced a version of Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna), but this particular iteration never appeared in The Defender‘s comics.


Deathlok (Michael Collins)

 

Professor Michael Collins was working for Cybertek, an affiliate of the notorious Roxxon Oil company, when he discovered a secret military program called: Deathlok. As punishment for his discovery, Collins was tranquilized and his brain transplanted into the body of a cyborg; he was later sent to fight rebels in South America as a pure killing machine… but Collins’ soul eventually re-emerged and took control. You might recall that Roxxon is mentioned in Netflix’s Daredevil and Iron Fist, a group with ties to the Yakuza and The Hand; Roxxon has also been prevalent in MCU films and shows like Iron Man 3, Agent Carter, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Deathlok is an intriguing character with a lot of abilities that the current Netflix team does not possess. As a cyborg, Deathlok has incredible technical skills — a potentially huge boon to The Defenders, whose current team makeup is lacking in the tech capability. While the team can probably get by just punching their way in and out of tough situations, sometimes stealth and technology are the more pragmatic choices. Deathlok is also a Soldier who possesses incredible strategic ability and mastery of many weapons.

Similar to Ghost Rider, Deathlok was also a Secret Defender (appearing in issue #23), and he also appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but as the character Mike Peterson, a down-on-his-luck factory worker.

 

 

That’s where we’d start, if anyone at Marvel or Netflix is interesting in the LRM perspective. A case could be made for any of the dozens of other Defenders comic characters to join the live-action series, and we’d like to hear what you think. We’ll update this feature a bit after The Defenders debuts, as events in the mini-series will suggest where the team is headed in the future.

Who do you think should be added to The Defenders in Season 2? Let us know in the comments down below!

The Defenders hits Netflix on August 18, 2017.

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Film and Media Studies.