Monday, August 21, 2017

TV: The disappointing DEFENDERS



Eight episodes unraveled, pulling four previous shows together DAREDEVIL (two seasons aired so far), JESSICA JONES (one season so far), LUKE CAGE (one season) and THE IRON FIST (one season).

It could have been an opportunity for The Water Cooler Set to rethink their trashing of THE IRON FIST and Finn Jones.

Finn Jones, you may remember, was trashed for playing the character of the Iron Fist by people who felt the White character in the comics should have been retooled into another race.

They didn't have that feeling, remember, about either Jessica Jones or Matt Murdoch (Daredevil).

As they wrote their attacks, it became obvious that (a) they didn't know about the character Iron Fist and (b) they didn't understand contrasts.

Krysten Ritter was rightly praised for the character of Jessica Jones -- brash and haunted.  Charlie Cox's portrayal of Daredevil benefited largely from the atmosphere of the first season (season two didn't have the same power).  Mike Colter's Luke Cage was filled with promise (that still hasn't panned out).

Then there's Danny the Iron Fist.

He has/had idealism -- something missing in the other three.

For that he was slammed.

Is Superman slammed for that?

Danny was "Moon River."  Henry Mancini's one octave and a note song Audrey Hepburn could sing, all white keys -- no sharps, no flats.

IRON FIST was far more popular outside The Water Cooler Set because Danny was actually the traditional superhero.

(You can even argue that neither Jessica Jones nor Luke Cage currently qualifies as a superhero -- you can even argue that, though no one from The Water Cooler Set did.)

In THE DEFENDERS, Finn's Danny at times seems to be the only contrast and you long for Luke and Jessica especially to stop trying to out bad ass the other.

Colter's best moments are not with either Cox or Ritter -- or even Rosaria Dawson who again plays Claire and again manages to hold your attention.

His best moments, his only fresh moments, come from his interaction with Jones.

Probably because so many of the other characters are minor keys not fully developed.

Brooding only goes so far in the action genre.

Much is made of Colter and Jones' discussion about privilege.  Did everyone miss the slow build up to friendship that happened in subsequent episodes?

If Jones' Danny is the high point of THE DEFENDERS, what's the low point?

Probably when Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra dies.

Weaver makes Alexandra fresh and fierce and we need her especially in those early episodes where the rhythm hasn't hit its stride and things aren't adding up.

That said, it never really adds up.

Daredevil dies in the big climax.

You know, like Superman in BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE?

And, like Superman, at the end of that movie, it turns out Daredevil isn't really dead.

But it kind of feels like MARVEL's NETFLIX franchise is.

A team up of Luke Cage and Danny Rand (in the comics, they were teamed for POWER MAN & IRON FIST) might be interesting.

But even THE DEFENDERS is a let down.

Readers of the comic at its height can be forgiven for wondering: Who the hell are these characters?

Except for Luke Cage, they're not The Defenders.

Where's Hellcat and Valkyrie?

Oh, yeah, that's the other thing.

Jessica Jones.

Four characters, still only female superhero.

At their most popular, THE DEFENDERS comic book featured at least two women on the team: Hellcat and Valkyrie.

Why are we accepting this?

Yes, Weaver is a villain and Elektra's brought back to life to be a villain.

But why are we not noticing that in 2017, there really aren't super heroines on NETFLIX?

Grasp that, unlike the faux Social Justice Warriors of The Water Cooler Set, we're not asking that an existing character has their gender changed -- the way they trashed Jones' Danny for not being any other race than White.

No, we're asking that a series called THE DEFENDERS, loosely based on the comic book of the same name, feature two female characters who were part of the team.

From issue four of THE DEFENDERS to the conclusion of the comic book title, Valkyrie was a member.


Yes, Trish Walker is a version of the character -- Jessica Jones' friend and adopted sister.  But she's a powerless version of her.

Hellcat is a member from issue 44 to 124 (issue 125 starts THE NEW DEFENDERS).

Why are we applauding a mini-series that features only one female super hero?

We're not.

Strip away Colter, Jones and Weaver and THE DEFENDERS has little to offer.

It seems to just tick off cameos and plot points as what should have been a rallying cry instead goes out as a sotto voiced whisper.

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