Marvel’s Defenders and Other Stuff

It’s been a long, lazy weekend, but a very good one at the personal level.  I’ve feasted with friends, I’ve relaxed… I even caught up on some overdue sleep.

Let me talk about some other things in my world first before I get to the big topic.  Just FYI, more site content is in the immediate works.  Those reader-inspired blogs: look for those this week.  I’ve been giving these some considerable thought.  Also, I’ve got a couple of books I’m finishing out, so there will be some more reviews coming, and prep on my own classic monsters story continues.  I lost a little traction on that this week, but I’ve lost none of the fire.  The inspiration right now seems to be self-renewing.  That’s how it goes sometimes, though; life gets in the way.  It doesn’t get to block the path indefinitely.

Speaking of reviews, I had a couple of authors find my reviews of their work the last couple of days.  They piped up to let me know they appreciated my taking the time to review their work.  That always takes me off guard.  It’d be one thing if I posted any of this through Goodreads or other social media, but I don’t, so sometimes I forget I’m not simply screaming into the wind here.  This site’s managed to build a little following and a little Google bot traction.  Related to that, I’ve had some new followers here too.  Welcome aboard, everyone!  Glad to have you.  I hope you find something worthy to keep you around a while.  Feel free to speak up if you have any questions or comments.

So now the big topic.  Marvel’s The Defenders on Netflix.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to give away any spoilers.  Mostly I just want to reflect on how much I admire what Marvel’s been doing on this front.  I’ve been chomping at the bit for this one since it was first announced.  I’m a DC guy, or rather, I used to be.  There’s a part of me that will never let that go, no matter how much these characters have become unrecognizable to me over the course of the last decade or so.  I’m not throwing myself at Marvel as the bastion of superhero awesome.  I still cherry pick them as I always have, even with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Especially with the MCU, if I’m being honest.  Not every character appeals to me, nor are they meant to.  But I have to give props where it’s due.  The series work they’re doing on Netflix is top notch and so much fun.

I had the monthly sci-fi meetup on Saturday, so there was some delayed gratification in regards to The Defenders.  I started the series Friday night after work, and I had to wait until Sunday to finish it out.  But it was gratifying at nearly every level, well worth the wait.  Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist… it was a sincere pleasure to see them overcome even themselves so they could join forces against The Hand.  This first season was only eight episodes, and being honest, I prefer that to thirteen, at least in this case.  As a storyteller at heart, I’m one of those people that feels a story should not be shoehorned by how many episodes it needs to fill.  A story takes as long as it needs to take; no more, no less.  I realize this isn’t how television works, by and large, but it’s good in this case to see Marvel excise some fluff, streamline the details, and get to the point already.  Could this series have been thirteen episodes?  Sure.  Would it have been as good?  If they’d filled those extra five episodes with useful character development, absolutely.  But The Defenders wasn’t about that.  The standard set by comics is that you have the normal single-hero titles and the big crossover events.  The Defenders is essentially the small screen version of The Avengers.  The characters are developed.  There is more to develop.  But for this, it’s time to kick some butt.  And that’s not to say there isn’t any character development here.  When people talk about character driven vs. plot driven stories, it’s a false dichotomy.  Character drives plot; plot becomes character.  Focus on one or the other is like losing a foot on the journey.  It’s simply a case of at these crossover events, it’s time to run a little instead of dragging one’s feet.  This series did that.  More will come.  I’m looking forward to it.

It looks to be that The Punisher will be getting his own Netflix series as well, rumored to debut this November.  After his incredible introduction in Daredevil season two, I’m ready for this one.  Trust me when I say no one is as surprised by this as I am.  He’s hardly been my favorite.  None of these characters ever wowed me in the comics.  As I say, I was a DC guy.  But I love the screen portrayals and the character dynamics at work here.  The way these characters are being handled is with a deft hand and understanding in a way that DC has long since lost sight.  They’ve moved on without me.  I keep talking about it from time to time because I’ve had some trouble letting go.  There are a handful of heroes at Marvel that have made that easier.  On the big screen, it was Captain America who stepped up when Superman became less than super and considerably less than a man.  Netflix has almost single-handedly helped to fill in the street level crimefighting void in my world left by Batman.  Wonder Woman… I’ll talk about her another time.  Thing is, I’m not entirely certain which of The Defenders I like best.  They all have their strengths as fully-realized screen characters.  They all appeal to me in different ways.  It’s hard to explain.  It’s like they form part of an interlocking whole, probably because they were meant to for purposes of these series.  Suffice it to say, each offers something particular that keeps me coming back to their stories.  Mostly, it’s their codes, maybe it’s just their basic humanity and common decency.  It may not be chivalry in the traditional sense of the word, but with everything else going on in the world, and especially at home here in the States, it’s refreshing to be able to see such positivity in action.  That’s the wonderful thing about superheroes.  Their entire point is to inspire us all at the deeper levels to be better than we were yesterday.


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