Thar be spoilers for The Defenders!
The Defenders is out and it’s…not…bad? I mean I got all the way through it? I was entertained for the most part? I still want to get messy-drunk and punch dudes with Jessica Jones?
But for every sliver of potential, there were HOURS of failure to live up to any of it.
The fight scenes — something Daredevil and Luke Cage revolutionised — were so stunted and colourless I started watching the background extras (who, it should be noted, looked as bored as I was).
The Hand, after being built up as the Ultimate Bad GuysTM pre-show, split their time evenly between waxing poetic about their history stabbing each other in the back, and throwing faceless minions at wherever the Defenders happened to be holed up.
The chemistry between the Defenders themselves — the star I bought tickets to see honestly — had spluttering moments of brilliance, but was like a spark that never quite caught.
In short, for a show featuring Sigourney frickin’ Weaver, the latest Netflix/Marvel Jamboree has some explaining to do. Starting with why someone hasn’t dropped Danny Rand down a well yet.
My apologies to Finn Jones (except not really after that whole “everyone hates Danny because of Trump” debacle) but of everything wrong with this show, Danny Rand is the uncontested Worst. Everything that made Iron Fist literally unwatchable, he dragged along with him into The Defenders. When he’s not whining to anyone who will listen about how he’s “a WARRIOR, okay??”, he’s killing any chemistry between the other characters just by being in the room. It took him being carted off by Electra for me to realise Luke, Jessica, and Matt can actually be entertaining and fun playing off each other.
To that end, I’ve compiled a list of characters that should replace Danny in The Defenders, because goddammit I want to watch my faves being awesome without having to paste cardboard across a quarter of my TV screen.
1. Colleen Wing
I didn’t make it all the way through Iron Fist for a number of reasons but Colleen wasn’t one of them. In fact, I might have stayed for her if I hadn’t seen the love-interest storyline coming at me like an ugly freight train. I’ve seen enough awesome female characters awkwardly shoe-horned into romantic subplots to last a lifetime thank you very much.
As a character, Colleen is capable, intelligent, and stubborn. As a superhero, she’s capable, intelligent, stubborn, and has an appropriately tragic past. I didn’t even get up to her reveal as a member of The Hand in Iron Fist, but I didn’t need to — my fave Buffy character was Faith — I am HERE FOR THIS.
Colleen’s arc in The Defenders was one of the only things I gave a proper shit about honestly, so imagine if she’d been given a full quarter of the spotlight? Gone would be Danny’s inexplicable ability to petulantly describe punching a dragon in the heart, instead we’d get Colleen and Jessica guilt-bonding over their dark pasts. No more awkward silences post “I am the Immortal Iron Fist” declarations, just Colleen and Luke trying to out-proud each other over their respective neighbourhood kids.
We could have had it AAALLLLL, is what I’m saying. Fuck.
2. Trish Walker
Imagine this with me, dear readers. It’s been two years since Jessica killed Killgrave. Trish hasn’t stopped training in that time. She’s a lean, mean, punching machine. Suddenly New York is hit by a suspicious earthquake and Trish is going to investigate the thing like it’s never been investigated before. She traces said earthquake to Midland Circle just in time to run into Jessica and co. She fights alongside the crew. She’s a Defender. The crowd goes wild!
But no seriously, give me Trish elbowing her way into this superpower party and giving Jessica a few dozen heart attacks as she does it. Give me Trish subtly asking Matt for costuming tips. Give me Hellcat is what I’m saying.
3. Elektra Natchios
Elektra’s arc in The Defenders was great! …Right up until she took over control of The Hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love my ambiguous-morality characters as much as the next guy, but this whole “I am the baddest guy!” schtick was literally her arc in Daredevil. We didn’t need to see it again.
Instead, I would have loved Elekra turning up on the Defender’s doorstep mid-season with some half-formed memories and a heavy instinct to fuck off anyone who tries to use her again. Have Jessica offer to remind her what whiskey tastes like. Have Luke and Jessica bond with her over bad guys using them as tools.
As an added bonus, we get to see what Alexandra does when forced to adjust her plan. Because fuck guys, this is Sigourney Weaver, give her something to do other than bluff her ailing health for shit’s sake.
4. Iron Fist but played by Lewis Tan
Did you know Marvel nearly cast an Asian-American dude as Danny Rand? Did you know said dude is the son of a renowned martial artist and stunt coordinator and would have been overwhelmingly qualified to do all his own fight scenes? Did you know he looks like this:
His name is Lewis Tan, and his not landing the role of Danny Rand proves God is dead.
5. Whoever came up with that subway scene
Because let’s face it, whoever stood up in the writers’ room and pitched a scene where three super-powered heroes catch the subway to their boss battle is the true MVP of this entire series. I didn’t even need Jessica stealing the beer, that was just the cherry on the beautiful, beautiful cake.
Won’t somebody please retcon Danny Rand. Like Stick’s hand, just cut him off and never mention him again. If the audience can accept a 76-year-old man not dying of blood loss after losing a limb and wrapping it in nothing but a dirty rag for three days, we can accept Danny falling down a storm drain and never being seen again.