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Introduction to ‘The Defenders’ 101

By JERMAINE McLAUGHLIN and L.A. WILLIAMS | 8/31/2017, 3:37 p.m.
“You four: The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, the smart-ass detective, the righteous ex-con and the kid with the glowing fist. ...
The Defenders

“You four: The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, the smart-ass detective, the righteous ex-con and the kid with the glowing fist. The war for New York is here…so get your shit together.”

This quote comes from the series “The Defenders,” and works perfectly as an intro to the team Netflix and Marvel have spent the past two years establishing via “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” in their respective 13-episode blocks.

Not yet caught up but want to jump right into the eight episodes of “The Defenders?” Here’s a brief breakdown of “The Defenders,” their comic roots and what to look for.

First, because there are so many Marvel movies and shows out now, here’s (basically) how “the Marvel Universe” connects: If the entire galaxy’s in danger, call the “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The whole world’s in danger? Call “The Avengers.” The USA? “Agents of SHIELD.” NYC’s in danger? Call “The Defenders.” You’re in danger (from a bully, stalker, gang, mobsters or Illuminati-like mystic ninja horde)? Call a Defender:

The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen

Each Defender has at least one fantastic power and a tale of how it was obtained. Matt Murdock’s power might be the most incredible. He’s a supremely gifted acrobat and fighter who’s blind and compensates via ultra-enhanced other senses. He’s also contradictory: a Catholic and lawyer by day committing devil-garbed vigilante acts by night (and his contradictions have driven away his friends.) Like a Marvel version of Batman, he scares the doo-doo outta most villains. And, like Batman, he utters the words “My city” so often, you’d think he’s Diddy.

I love all the Defenders. But in the Marvel Universe they’re all considered C- or D-listers, whereas Daredevil’s considered a B-lister. He’s the most traditional “super-hero” Defender in that he wears a costume and proactively seeks ways to combat top crime bosses. And both his comic and his Netflix show debuted years before the other Defenders. With that seniority, more Defenders characters and plots connect from “Daredevil” more than from the other shows (with “Iron Fist” a close second).

The smart-ass detective

In the comics, Jessica Jones is the newest and easily the most reluctant “hero” of “The Defenders.” Created in 2001, Jessica first starred in the comic “Alias” (also the name of her detective agency). The Jessica we met there was not a superhero anymore; she’s just trying to live her life after a traumatic event forced her to hang up her costume.

The Netflix version of Jessica carries over the trauma from the comics, but dials her angst up to 11 as she’s drowning in her need to atone. In both versions, she is forced to confront the source of her psychosis, a mind-controlling sociopath named Kilgrave (played with devilish style by former “Dr. Who” lead David Tennant).

After her first season, Jessica is quite uncomfortable with her newfound and unsought celebrity and is disinterested in working with others, let alone as a part of a “team of heroes,” because she doesn’t see herself as one.