Best Marvel Defenders Season So Far

MarvelsDefenders

Unlike their Avengers brethren on the big screen, the Marvels Defenders on Netflix don’t get all that much attention. This is probably partially because these Netflix Original series are more “adult,” which limits the audience to a more “mature” viewers. They also don’t have the advertising budget of the blockbuster films.

However, if your parents say it’s okay for you to partake in the Defenders’ heavier use of blood, sex, and substance abuse, you should give the Marvel-Netflix Originals a chance. Here’s a mostly spoiler-free break down of how I’d rank each season of that’s out so far (as of May of 2018):

Last Place (Unfortunately)

FinnJonesIronFistGreenhand

Iron Fist, Season One

Sorry, to kick a show when it’s down, but—

Although I like Danny Rand’s positive attitude, the first season of Iron Fist is easily the weakest of the Defenders series. The most glaring problems are the fight scenes. The Iron Fist is supposed to be a kung fu master. He should be fast, fluid, and visceral. While I applaud Finn Jones’ effort and fitness, the show fails to deliver a punch in its fight choreography.

With the public’s years of exposure to Jackie Chan’s stunt work and Jet Li’s more-authentic skill, it’s hard to watch Iron Fist‘s snail-slow choreography and buy Finn Jones as an elite kung fu master. They should’ve used more camera tricks and worked the Foley stage to mask Jones’ inexperience in martial arts.

I read somewhere that Jones was rushed through training and filming, so he and the stunt team couldn’t get the fight scenes done right. I hope that’s true, so after however many months, Jones can have a fair chance to make a better showing in the second season.

Overall, I’d still watch this season if you’re enough of a Marvel Cinematic Universe nerd (or simply love the Knight of Flowers).

Fourth Place: 

DaredevilSeasonTwo

Daredevil, Season Two

While watching this season, I found the two “parallel” story lines to be drastically different in tone and quality. In short, the bits with the Punisher was good while the parts focusing on Elektra was not so good.

With a quick Google search, I found the likely reason: The season had two showrunners who, I can only assume, worked with too much independence. They weren’t careful enough with pacing and cohesiveness of the season overall.  The story with Elektra, however, leads into the Defenders crossover, though. So perhaps the showrunners were being pulled in too many directions.

If you ask me, the flashbacks concerning Elektra’s past were shown too late. They should have built up sympathy for her much earlier so the viewers would not be so annoyed with her. As it is, Elektra’s tossed into the story in a very slapdash way, and we’re force fed some kind of supposed chemistry between her and the Daredevil. It didn’t quite work.

Third Place:

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Jessica Jones, Season One

To put it bluntly, I think Jessica Jones kind of got screwed over in terms of budget for the first season. Although I can’t find any clear evidence, I found some circumstantial evidence: The first seasons for all four superheroes plus the crossover were supposed to split a $200 million budget, and Daredevil ate up $56 by himself. The variety and quality of the sets on Jones makes it seem like an indie film in contrast to Daredevil, which came out first, and Luke Cage which came out a little later. A huge number of the scenes and property damage in Jones was limited to her one-bedroom apartment (which, by the way, is much crappier than Daredevil’s big ass loft/studio).

So despite having a solid story about Jones getting over some serious trauma paired with strong performances by the actors, I think the budget (although maybe the production was also rushed like Iron Fist) made Jones’ first season lack the luster it deserved.

Although, David Tennant does a great job playing a character whose face I want to punch whenever he shows up. Pft. Kilgrave.

Second Place:

I’m going to cheat and go with a three-way tie: Jessica Jones, Season Two; Luke Cage, Season One; and The Punisher, Season One

The pacing and apparent production value for the second season of Jessica Jones totally outshines the first. The story has more hooks and barrels forward with more momentum than the first (despite or because of the general lack of David Tennant’s character; I guess Kilgrave, and what he does, makes me uncomfortable).

LukeCage

Luke Cage is awesome, due in no small part to his much-more-impressive superpowers. However, the soundtrack, plot, and tone all work together to make the series very engrossing.

ThePunisher

The Punisher, although he’s not technically a Defender, has a great first season. It, like the other second-place seasons, hooks you from start to end. They provide some great action while building a lot of sympathy for the hard-ass protagonist.

All three of these shows touch upon subjects that, outside of fiction, may be difficult to discuss. Jessica Jones is a survivor rape and tons of other sources of trauma;  Luke Cage is wrongfully incarcerated and, as many have noted, is in a show about a bulletproof black man released in the midst of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; and The Punisher deals issues veterans face (e.g., PTSD, being and feeling discarded after their service). However, the shows don’t harp too much on these social and political issues. It’s all subtle enough that you can simply enjoy entertaining stories about over-the-top heroes (and anti-heroes).

First Place:

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Daredevil, Season One

The first season is leagues better than the second. I think it’s because it doesn’t have to worry so much about leading into the Defenders crossover as its second season (AKA one of many problems Iron Fist had to deal with). The action in this season is arguably the best in all of the Defenders, with a prime example being the should-be-famous one-shot fight scene from the very first episode.

This first season also benefits from having characters who are smart. They generally make decisions which are well thought out and they speak in a manner that exudes some measure of intellect (this contrasts with the first season of Jessica Jones where people make decisions without thinking and communication is almost non-existent). The season also leans heavily on the charismatic Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio (I lay most of this out in my so-called review of the season from way back when).

Apparently, I like violence followed by pretentious dialogue.

Full disclosure: I may have a bias for Daredevil because I’m also a handsome attorney who spends too much time in a side hustle. He fights crime with his superhuman senses, and I sit around writing crap no one reads. It’s the same.

Bonus Note: Each Defender show uses the character’s designated color throughout their scenes: red for Daredevil, purple for Jessica Jones, yellow for Luke Cage, and green for Iron Fist. Although the colors are noticeable in Daredevil and Jones, I feel it’s not overdone. Yellow lights are pretty common in real life, so it’s all but unnoticeable in Luke CageIron Fist, however, totally flushes too much out with green. C’mon, Fist team.

 

 

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Awesome Character #3: Lisa Hayes (Misa Hayase)

Lisa HayesFrom Macross to Robotech

Robotech is a localization of three separate Japanese anime series, pieced together so there would be enough episodes for American television in the 1980s. The first part of Robotech, known as the Macross Saga, was adapted from Super Dimension Fortress Macross (Macross) and is largely the same as its source material. The most significant changes were the names and ethnicity of some characters and removal of what folks deemed to be excessive violence, drinking, and nudity (today, none of that stuff would be cut).

The Japanese characters, Hikaru Ichijyo and Misa Hayase, were made Americans (not through immigration and naturalization) and we wound up with Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes. In terms of personality and action, Lisa and Misa is the same character.

A few years after the release of the TV series, Robotech was adapted into a novel series that expanded upon the story, adding a bit more depth.

By feats alone

Lisa begins the series as a Lieutenant and the First Officer of the SDF-1, making her the second-in-command of the entire ship (the XO, if Robotech used American military designations). She gets promoted a number of times throughout the series. On more than one occasion, Lisa is responsible for saving the asses of thousands of people (e.g., the Daedalus Maneuver, and that time on Mars). By her feats alone, Lisa’s pretty impressive.

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Most Compelling Seth MacFarlane Thingies

While driving home and listening to “Majestic” by Wax Fang, I started thinking about how much I loved the episode of American Dad! that exposed me to the song. That is to say, I didn’t love it, but I liked it a lot (okay, maybe I loved it). That also led me to start thinking about what may be my favorite episode of Family Guy.

First off, I’ll say that my general assumption is that most people who come across my blog—people who can read—probably aren’t quite as into Seth MacFarlane created works as I am. Secondly, I want to warn people that this post includes some *SPOILERS* of relatively old episodes of American Dad! and Family Guy.

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Irksome Things in Game of Thrones

I’m talking only of the Game of Thrones television show which I’ve been binge-watching recently. As far as I can tell, these “problems” are liberties taken by the show (I read all the books a while ago, so I may be wrong).

Ser Dontos Game of Thrones

Captain Westeros, The First Avenger

1. Ser Dontos, an overweight drunk, wears armor that has a marked resemblance to the American flag.

That’s just mean. He’s called Ser Dontos the Red, not Ser Dontos the Red, White, and Blue.

Though I’ll admit it’s kind of funny that he looks like a really crappy Captain America.

2. Catelyn Stark says “stand down” which is a phrase thought to have originated in the early 1900’s, and the Bastard of Bolton says “phantom limb” which is a phrase coined in the 1870’s.

Yeah, yeah—I know the show is set in a fictional fantasy world, and it wouldn’t really work to have them speak Middle English (no one would understand except English majors, and even then it’ll only be the handful of people who paid attention during their Chaucer class). However, I personally prefer medieval fantasy to avoid modern-ish technical phrases as much as possible. I’m really not sure if these phrases were in the books or if they’re only in the show. I’ll have to pay attention if I ever read the novels again.

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Major Influences #4: The WB (The CW)

The WB - Roswell - Smallville - Buffy - Angel - EverwoodThe CW (formerly The WB and UPN) is a force to be reckoned in the world of teen drama. I watched a good number of their shows, back when I was a more appropriate age to be watching teen dramas, and they’ve definitely left a lasting impact.

Vampires before they sparkled

Angel and Buffy

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanaz)

Attractive young adults in a show about vampires? No frickin’ way.

Before The Vampire Diaries TV series, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I started out somewhat interested in Buffy, but I didn’t get sucked into Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse until the Angel spin-off. I watched both shows religiously even after Buffy was booted from The WB lineup to second string on UPN.

Though I watched all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, I’ll always remember Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof as Willow and Wesley (before Lily and Sandy Rivers). At E3 (don’t ask me how I got in), I once awkwardly shook Eliza Dushku’s hand: the most interaction I’ve had with a Hollywood celebrity in all my years living in and around Los Angeles (unless you count walking past Ashton Kutcher a few times on the way to and from the restroom on the set of Jobs).

Beside the paranormal setting, what I love about these two shows is the sometimes-ridiculous character banter, and how no character gets to be cool 100% of the time. When a character’s cool-meter gets close to being full, the writers have something comical happen to him or her (I’ve noticed people other than Whedon doing this, a recent example being Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy—the humor in Guardians reminded me so much of Whedon I had to double check to see that he wasn’t involved).

So, if the characters in my novels have borderline-annoying back-and-forth conversations, and something embarrassing happens to my protagonist when he or she is trying to be cool, you probably have Joss Whedon to blame. Luckily, I didn’t watch Firefly until after I finished several drafts of my novel. Otherwise, it might have been too Whedoned-out. Continue reading