How the Marvel Netflix Shows Set Up ‘The Defenders’ [UPDATED With Trailer]

Chris Tilly
TV Marvel
TV Marvel

UPDATE: Marvel’s The Defenders now has a global launch date – August 18 – and a trailer…

Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have all now launched on Netflix, paving the way for The Defenders, an eight-episode series that will debut on the streaming service sometime in the not-too-distant future.

But what was going on with each character at the end of their respective series? And how does that set things up for their forthcoming get-together? The following is a brief refresher course explaining where the awesome foursome were last time we saw them, and how that could play into the eagerly anticipated team-up show.


Daredevil was the first of the Marvel-Netflix shows to launch, and such was the success of Season 1 that Season 2 was immediately green-lit, shot, and aired. With Elektra and The Punisher joining proceedings.

It ended with the central characters parting ways however, Foggy Nelson severing his partnership with Matt Murdock to join Hogarth’s law firm. So while we don’t know how big a role Nelson will have in The Defenders, whatever he does will doubtless involve shady legal dealings.

The series concluded with the good guys having a rooftop battle with ‘The Hand’ which ended with Elektra seemingly dead. Though before carking it she did tell Daredevil that “this is not the end.” A sentiment that’s backed up by the process for bringing her back to life beginning as proceedings came to a close.

Matt Murdock doesn’t know this however, and her death leaves him both devastated and demoralised. Deciding that Stick’s philosophy of avoiding emotional ties is flawed, he instead seeks help and support, and so reveals his crime-fighting alter-ego to Karen. Which will dramatically alter their relationship going forward, and potentially puts her in mortal danger.

So expect a downbeat Daredevil at the start of The Defenders. One who might be done with vigilantism. But who also has nothing to lose.

Jessica Jones

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones.

Jessica Jones has perhaps the darkest ending of all four Marvel-Netflix shows, though it does throw in an upbeat coda.

The grim stuff comes in the shape of dastardly villain Killjoy finally getting his comeuppance. Believing Jessica has finally fallen under his spell, Killjoy tells her to smile, which she does. Then she snaps his neck.

Jones is arrested, the police endeavouring to charge her with Killjoy’s murder. But Hogarth secures her release on a bunch of technicalities, meaning Jessica can return home.

She’s pretty much broken at this point, but a silver lining appears when she plugs in her phone. As it charges, and message after message plays, it becomes clear that Jessica Jones is in demand. As the woman who saved scores of people on the docks, she’s become famous, the world thinking her a hero; and potential clients hoping she’s a hero for hire.

Meaning Alias Investigations is up-and-running, and The Defenders will feature a pretty successful private investigator. But one who is reluctantly entering the spotlight. And still attempting to put the Killjoy trauma behind her once-and-for-all.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage has the most underwhelming conclusion of all the shows, with the final episode just kind of fizzling out. Luke defeats Stryker early on, and the watching crowds take him to heart, chanting Luke’s name and turning him into something of a local hero.

Then a bunch of things just kind of happen. Claire nearly sleeps with Luke, and takes a flyer for self-defence classes with Colleen Wing, setting up her appearance in Iron Fist.

Mariah Diller escapes all the charges against her, returns to nightclub Harlem’s Paradise victorious, and shares a kiss with Shades. So, at some point down the line, she’s going to have to pay for what she’s done.

And Luke – aka Carl Lucas – is arrested for escaping from Seagate Prison. “I am innocent and I can prove it,” he claims, but he still owes the State of Georgia that time. Claire says she knows a great lawyer, however, so if Luke doesn’t again escape from prison, the smart money’s on Episode 1 of The Defenders revolving around Matt Murdock winning his freedom in court. Doubtless using the file that Fish found in the barbershop, which proves Cage’s innocence.

So, one imagines it will be a very different Luke Cage we meet in The Defenders. Free from the burden of the secret that’s been weighing him down, he no longer has any reason to hide. And can finally enjoy being Power Man.

Iron Fist

Lots happening during the climax of the most underwhelming and poorly received Marvel-Netflix show. Danny Rand starts the episode a fugitive having been set up by Harold Meachum. He’s also feeling guilt over the death of his parents, and has a thirst for vengeance, desperate for someone to pay. A trait that isn’t in keeping with being the Iron Fist. And likely to “corrupt his chi.”

Rand, therefore, has two doors ahead of him, and must control his anger to take the correct one. He just about manages that during the concluding brawl, with Ward Meachum putting an end to his father rather than Danny.

Hogarth inexplicably manages to get Rand off the many charges the DEA have brought against him. A bit like Hogarth does at the end of every series. And Danny heads back to K’un-Lun to apologise for leaving, to complete his training, and to find out if he is a flame, meant to destroy his enemies, “or a light, for those trapped in the darkness.”

The show comes to a close with Joy plotting to kill Rand with the help of his former friend Davos, which may play into the early Defenders action. Or Season 2 of Iron Fist should that inexplicably happen. Meanwhile Danny and Colleen head to K’un-Lun, only to discover it has disappeared. So there’s a good chance the Iron Fist’s journey will resume here in the next instalment.

Do You Need to Have Watched the Previous Shows?

Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist (Pic: Entertainment Weekly).

Appreciation of The Defenders will not depend on prior knowledge, with showrunner Marco Ramirez telling Entertainment Weekly: “You don’t have to have seen any of the other shows to come to this. We’re not entering the world of capes and superheroes. We’re taking our cues from shows like The Wire and The Shield.

“This is about what happens in the back alleys of New York City, and how people have to rise to the occasion. It’s for a fan of good crime TV as much as it is for a fan of superhero TV shows.”

What Else Do We Know?

Ramirez has been offering hints and clues for what to expect from The Defenders. Comic book lore states that when they first meet, superheroes have to fight before teaming up. And the show might follow that template. “Obviously Luke and Jessica know each other,” Ramirez told EW. “But [the] others don’t know each other, so it’s about that in the beginning. Are you an enemy, or are you a friend?”

The show will apparently kick off with the four heroes investigating their own mysteries, then discovering that they are all interconnected.

The threat will apparently be as “grounded” as the previous shows, so don’t expect Norse gods to show up or aliens to start appearing from the sky.

“I can’t describe too much,” Ramirez said. “But I can say that we knew it had to be something big. We knew it would take something massive to pull these four characters from their individual worlds to work together, but also small enough that it felt like it existed in our world.

“It needed to be a crisis that brought these people together, but it still needed to be a very street-level crisis. That’s the world we’re dealing with, so it couldn’t be anything too sci-fi or supernatural or big. That’s the stuff of the movies.”

While we don’t yet know what that threat will be, we do know that Sigourney Weaver is playing Alexandra, the villain of the piece. She’s a character Ramirez calls “a very powerful force in New York City.”

He also says, “She’s everything Sigourney Weaver is: sophisticated, intellectual, dangerous.”

And that’s about all we know at this point. Though we’ll doubtless find out more as and when the show approaches, with The Defenders set to hit Netflix in the second half of 2017.

Chris Tilly
FANDOM Managing Editor in the UK. At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.
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