Just like Marvel’s The Avengers was the culmination of the studio’s careful Phase 1 plotting featuring multiple individual heroes joining forces, Netflix’s The Defenders is the culmination of a similar small screen build up, albeit one with lighter stakes. The Defenders will see Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, along with several supporting cast members from all four series, come together in a battle for New York City. No, it isn’t quite the world-ending consequences of The Avengers, but the formula is the same.
But how closely do the two team-ups resemble one another? Or how far does The Defenders stray from its predecessor’s winning strategy? Showrunner Marco Ramirez discussed the comparisons in a recent interview with THR.
When you have literally the footprints that The Avengers had, there’s kind of no way to avoid the comparison and no way to avoid referencing it in the writers room. It’s an incredible achievement and a great story told really well. But to me, aside from that, in the formation of the show in the writers room, it was important to me to talk about story templates and influences. We talked about The Dirty Dozen and Seven Samurai. We talked about movies and cinematic stories where characters came together who did not want to come together, who had their own in-fighting but ultimately came together to fight something bad in some way. I would like to think the influences are wide in that way.
So far, that strategy appears to be working as The Defenders has received mostly positive reviews. More importantly, though, is what the miniseries represents: a long-term event show that has intrigued viewers ever since Daredevil first premiered in 2015. Netflix has tapped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s tendency to give audiences a taste of what’s coming next to keep them on the hook. This stands in contrast to the traditional Netflix viewing model which sees users binge entire seasons in one weekend only for the shows to be forgotten shortly after.
Fortunately, even if you haven’t kept up with Marvel’s burgeoning Netflix empire, Ramirez has structured The Defenders in a way to allow new viewers to hop in without any preexisting knowledge of the shared small screen universe.
It was always part of the design, that Marvel and Netflix always wanted us to make a show where audiences could dive into it without having seen any of the others. You could just hypothetically come in and watch The Defenders. With that said, if you have seen the other shows, the idea is to never make a show that’s redundantly telling you something you already know about these other stories. That was the trapeze act of figuring out the writing, making sure to never be expository but also make sure it wasn’t a requirement that you would have to do seven weeks of homework, or whatever the math is on binge-watching five seasons of television.