Your Guide To ‘The Defenders’, Marvel’s Netflix TV Franchise

Marvel dropped a pretty big bombshell yesterday when it revealed that it was developing four TV series and a miniseries with Netflix centered around four beloved cult heroes; Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Daredevil. But if you’re not a Marvel nerd, you may be less than familiar with some of these characters. And there’s some stuff here that will confuse even comics nerds. So, here’s an overview of who they are, and why fans are excited.

Daredevil I know, because Batfleck. But what’s the big deal with these other people?

Luke Cage is a superstrong guy with steel-hard skin; more relevantly to comics history, he was one of the first Black characters to hold down his own series. Jessica Jones was the star of Alias, Brian Michael Bendis’ noirish take on a failed superheroine working as a private detective. Iron Fist is Danny Rand, an industrialist and martial arts master who beat up a dragon to become a superhero.

Together they are…THE DEFENDERS!

In the comics? Not so much!


Don’t get me wrong, individually, they’ve all been members of the Defenders. But so has damn near everybody else in the Marvel Universe. The basic idea of the Defenders, as a team, is that they weren’t a team, but kept getting thrown together under odd circumstances that forced them to team up. It’s less a team than “Marvel wants to put these characters into a book, so let’s just do that, and call them Defenders.”

No, Danny Rand and Luke Cage are best known as Heroes For Hire. Jessica Jones is, in the comics, his wife, after she gets through her various personal issues. Really, this is a set of miniseries about how awesome Luke Cage is.

I feel like I should know more about this Luke Cage guy.

You really should. Cage is one of Marvel’s most popular “cult” characters, and Heroes For Hire is one of those beloved Marvel-nerd books that never quite got its due. And a Luke Cage movie has been in the works for, literally, a decade. Over time, Cage has gotten more of a spotlight in the comics, to the point where’s he’s currently anchoring The Mighty Avengers as the leader.

So this is basically “Heroes For Hire Plus Daredevil?”

It sure looks that way, unless Marvel is, for that miniseries, going to go all seventies Merry Marvel Marching Society on our asses and roll out characters like Nighthawk and Son Of Satan. Which we doubt, but that would be amazing.

So why call them The Defenders?

At a guess? Branding. It’s a recognizable team, it sounds like “Avengers” while being different, and so on.

Will these series be awesome?

At a guess, yes. It’s true Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has struggled, but Netflix is more like basic cable. An interesting factoid is that all of these characters are generally associated with a grittier, more street-level comic book; they’re more likely to fight gangsters than they are to fight cosmos-spanning nightmares. Done properly, think Sons of Anarchy or The Shield, but with superpowers.

Yeah, we can’t wait either. They’ll be coming in 2015.