– by David Kozlowski

Marvel’s The Defenders debuted on Netflix last month to decent reviews and somewhat restrained hype. There was plenty of fan and media excitement leading up to the launch, but it almost seemed like Netflix downplayed the event. Official teasers and trailers conveyed a variety of action and hinted at the storyline — a war for New York — but something seemed a bit lacking in the marketing. To be fair, this seems to be Netflix’s modus operandi of late, original films like War Machine and Death Note both received little promotion before their debuts.

Of all the Marvel series on Netflix, The Defenders was supposed to be THE big event of the year (at least, until Stranger Things Season 2); a culmination of plotlines and events from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist in an epic, 8-episode mini-series. The events in The Defenders also impacted each of these characters series, kickstarting events in each of their subsequent seasons. So was the mini-series a success?

Related – The Defenders To Initiate A Marvel-Netflix Phase 2

We don’t really know, since Netflix doesn’t stream and tell. However, just one month after its release, no one’s really talking about The Defenders. Again, this isn’t necessarily a failing of the show, the fall TV season is upon us and there are some seriously major films on the horizon. That said, people revere Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2, as well as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Ominously, Iron Fist was not very well-received (as has been widely reported), and it was the final lead-in to The Defenders — we’ll come back to this point in a moment.

Jumpshot, a San Francisco-based analytics company, is suggesting that The Defenders was the least-viewed Marvel show to-date. According to Variety, Jumpshot developed a proprietary technology that allows them to analyze and compare U.S.-based viewing habits to assess relative popularity of Netflix shows to one another. Jumpshot indicates that their data only the first 30-days of The Defenders (released on August 18th), and they also excluded viewing from connected-TV platforms or mobile apps — potentially skewing their data based on limited data and demographics. Frankly, it’s a process that sounds more anecdotal than empirical to me, but what do I know, I’m just a writer.

But Jumpshot might not be wrong, if you step back and assess some of the problems that plagued The Defenders the problems are easy to spot. To start, each of the Marvel-Netflix shows appeals to a different audience, and though The Defenders tried to represent each show’s distinct mood and tone, it resulted some odd moments and jarring transitions. Danny Rand grew as a character during The Defenders, but he remained a weak link overall (and criticisms of his character followed him into the mini-series). The inciting incident, a “War for New York,” and the mini-series’ big-bads, The Hand, were both poorly executed; around the halfway point of The Defenders both the war and the Hand became unfocused and laughably inept. Also, other than Daredevil, no one wore a costume — DD only wore his about half the time — even The Hand stopped dressing like Ninjas. At times, this barely felt like a superhero show.

Look, I liked The Defenders, but I recognize it’s many flaws too. The mini-series started off slow and sadly ended with a bit of a thud, but along the way there were some truly great moments. The battle at the Golden Dragon restaurant was absolutely amazing, I literally cheered when Luke captured Sowande, and said, “I got one of theirs,” and I still get chills watching Matt, Luke, Jessica, and Danny descend the elevator for their final battle.

Ultimately, Netflix doesn’t care about ratings, they’re in it for subscribers. The Defenders has its issues, no doubt, but it’s solid genre entertainment that’s part of the whole Marvel continuum. Together, Netflix and Marvel created something super fun, if kind of forgettable, but it’s a stepping stone (and hopefully a learning experience that will bear fruit in each series’ upcoming seasons).

Do you think that The Defenders was a success or a failure? Where does it rank against other Marvel TV shows? Let us know in the comments down below!

The Defenders are now streaming on Netflix.

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SOURCE: Variety

  • 2 Left Thumbs

    I am just finishing off Luke Cage, and still have to watch Iron Fist. I prefer to watch these things in their entirety – and that’s a lot to ask of a viewer when there is sooo much good TV these days. Maybe this series will keep up steady viewership as more people get around to it?

    I binged Daredevil and Jessica Jones seasons 1 in a few days each. Daredevil S2 and Luke Cage S1 have been a grind. Both lost my interest halfway through. Why do the insist on forcing 13 episodes for these? There is so much filler!

    • All of the Marvel shows seem to have the same issue: first half of each season is really strong, but the back half is really weak (Iron Fist was kind of weak from start to finish, but given the horror that is Inhumans, I think we can say the problem was Scott Buck as showrunner).

      I don’t know what the solution is for the second-half fade with each of these shows. I think the actors and the budgets are solid, some of the writing and directing is really good too. Perhaps the issue is Jeph Loeb — he’s the guy responsible for all of Marvel TV under Ike Perlman, and let’s be honest, most of Marvel TV has struggled.

    • chaburchak

      You don’t HAVE to warch Iron Fist…surely you have some chores to do around the house, or a cat pan that needs scooped out. Believe me, your time will seem better spent…

    • Gaaamin_It_Up

      Skip Iron Fist and read a quick season synopsis or watch a 2 min season recap, there’s barely one “good” episode. And yes you’re right, all shows over extend themselves..except Defenders. It’s 5 or so episodes shorter than the rest, but could have use an extra one or two to actually develop something worth caring about or show off something cool. Luke Cage 2nd half is a slog

  • Mr Smart

    The lack of diversity killed any hope this show might have had. I suggest the bigots writing for Marvel Netflix take a cue from the comics and introduce a more diverse cast or change the age, sex, color, gender and/or Religion the cast.

    Audiences demand a new lineup of teenaged Defenders including homosexuals, Muslims, more or all womyn, at least on transgender and NO cisnormative white males. Plus, Matt Murdock’s open Catholicism was offensive and triggering, just kill him off entirely.

    The answer is simple: Diversity or Die.


    • JSmoove

      Do you ever get tired of telling the same shitty jokes?

      • Mr Smart

        JSmoove 395 upvotes.

        Mr Smart 1969 upvotes.

        • JSmoove

          If that makes you feel accomplished, I’m all for it. Congrats, brother.

      • Nattown

        Whats scary is he is a representation of all message boards 2 years from now.


      Do you ever get tired of being a troll, or a jerk? And seriously,if you upvote yourself,you are just tell people “I’m insecure,look at me!”

      And it is spelled “woMEN” not womyn.No matter how much your leftist feminists tell you. You cant have female without the word male,and you cant have ladies without the word lad. And you sure as hell cant have women without the word men.


      If its all women how is that diversity? If there are no straight white males,that is also not diverse. Just another self hating white pansy.

      • Vector

        Uh, reread his post. It’s a parody profile, and his shtick is EXTREME SJW.

        • TAPIT DRIvER

          God I hope so. He’s been trolling AICN for so long,I was never sure if he was serious or a joker. There are plenty of people out there that are serious about that SJW crap.

  • Tony 2.0

    All of this is going to Disney’s streaming service, so…

    • Actually, the Marvel shows are staying on Netflix. All of the other Disney/Pixar/Marvel stuff is leaving, but the these Marvel shows are specifically a joint venture.

  • Victor Roa

    yikes, it wasn’t that bad.

  • Aline

    Well, I still didn’t watched. Luke Cage started strong, but the second half was a letdown. Iron Fist bored me to death. And I kinda miss the interest in watching Defenders. I will, eventually, but I’m way more interested in Punisher.

    • I’m really starting to question how Netflix promotes and markets these shows. My wife and I have been Netflix subscribers for a few years, but we missed on Stranger Things until word-of-mouth blew up (I don’t recall any ads for this show at all). Same with Ozark. If not for reviews and sites like LRM, I don’t know if I would have watched any of these shows.

      Scroll through the list of original stuff on Netflix, there’s a TON of stuff I’ve never heard about, some of it quite good too. What gives Netflix?

      • Aline

        This is also true. I follow OITNB, but I never received a notification about this year season. That is something that needs to be fixed.

  • Weresmurf

    Sure didnt help it was a boring grind to watch…

    • Ben Alexander

      it wasn’t great. left too many things unanswered for my liking. it also felt cheap on the production side of things, parts dragged then other parts felt rushed.

      • Weresmurf

        Yep. Absolutely. That, and watching Daredevil do sweet bugger all during all 8 episodes more or less. He really felt like a completely neutered version of the kickass character from season 1 of his own show.

  • echohello

    My first taste of Netflix-Marvel was with Iron Fist and I really enjoyed it… which is probably why I really liked the Defenders as it was basically a continuation of Danny’s journey. That said, I am intrigued by the other shows now and might eventually watch them.

  • Kronx

    I think the Defenders worked best when the title characters were together bouncing off each other. But the writing simply wasn’t great. The dialogue was mediocre in many spots, and the plot was uninspired.

    The Hand never felt like a credible threat. After watching the Defenders I rewatched some of Daredevil season 1. Man, what a difference. It always seemed like Matt never had a chance in DD 1.

    But the biggest problem is only having 8 episodes. Too much is rushed. This is more of a long movie than a TV series. Really, it’s the series that could have had 20 episodes and never needed filler. There was so much left unexplored.

    But, despite all of the above, I enjoyed chunks of it.

    • It’s killing me that there’s still so much I liked about The Defenders, but it’s the things that I hated or that they ham-fisted that kind of ruins it for me, too. Like the big office fight in Episode 3, how in the logical hell did Luke Cage know what floor and which office to barge into when Rand was getting smacked around by Sigourney Weaver’s people?

  • TheOct8pus

    DAREDEVIL: What?? You guys aren’t wearing costumes???

    • That’s awesome! Best laugh I had all day. It’s dumb, but my enjoyment of this show would have improved a couple percent if Iron Fist had simply worn his frickin’ mask. See, it’s dumb, I told you.


    What irritated me about the show,and I thought it was better than cage or Iron Fist, was that DD pretty much beat IF and Elektra beat IF. Yet DD beat Elektra and the Punisher beat DD in season 2. Danny is supposed to be the best of the best. Not just good enough to hang with the adults.

    • Great assessment of Iron Fist. For the world’s best fighter, he sure looked like a teenager on a 10-Day free TaeKwonDo try-out. This is why IF should have worn a mask from the start, they could have used a stunt double and at least made the martial arts cool to watch.

      • TAPIT DRIvER

        Amen and amen, Dave.

  • elhonez

    Daredevil was great, Jessica Jones was great. Cage started well but had some really bad dialogue, and Mike Colter’s not a very good actor. And then Iron Fist. Agh. Who flip-flops between a whiny brat and a pseudo-zen guru. Throw them all together, and arbitrarily pick some plot elements to be the connective tissue and it all starts to suck.

    A dead dragon beneath NYC. And somehow the act of mining dragon bones is meant to destroy the entire city? None of this makes any sense at all, I never understood the threat or felt like the city was in any danger. The whole premise was muddy and convoluted, so I could never believe why they felt any urgency to team up.

    How, and when, did anyone get to the dragon bones in the first place to seal them with the Iron Fist of that century? How did the dragon end up a mile underground? Why couldn’t they find other dragon bones in more accessible places, if we’re meant to believe there were lots of dragons running around at some point in history? Why haven’t archaeologists found dragon bones elsewhere?

    Why would the Hand invest what had to be billions of dollars to create a high-rise on top of the dragon bone excavation site, if they knew that mining the dragon bones would somehow destroy Manhattan? Wouldn’t a KFC or a Target have been cheaper?

    • You make great points, I agree with everything you’re saying. I think Marvel way oversold the “War for New York,” when New York was never in any real danger. Sigourney Weaver was wasted, and Elektra never seemed as powerful as the Black Sky myths made her out to be. I also kept wondering, where are all the ninjas? I thought the Hand were all ninjas, not dudes in sport coats or work boots.

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.