9 Things We Can Expect from Marvel’s The Defenders

Showrunners Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie discuss their plans to handle the characters, plotting, and action in Netflix's upcoming hero team-up.

by | October 5, 2016 | Comments

Marvel made movie history when they launched four separate superhero movie franchises and successfully combined them in The Avengers. Now, in collaboration with Netflix, they’ve laid the groundwork to do the same on television. In 2017, the titular heroes of Marvel’s Netflix shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist will unite to form The Defenders. Luke Cage just premiered last week to rave reviews, and Iron Fist will drop on Netflix sometime in early 2017 before The Defenders.

This summer, RT spoke with writer-producers Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie at the Television Critics Association; you may already be familiar with their work from the second season of Daredevil on Netflix earlier this year, but they’re also now in charge of The Defenders. Ramirez and Petrie told us nine things we can look forward to in the hotly anticipated mashup series next year.

Daredevil Was Good Practice

Season two of Daredevil introduced Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), aka the Punisher, and Elektra (Elodie Yung). Balancing those two characters with Daredevil was good practice for the writers, who will have to balance four heroes in The Defenders.

“In some ways, I think that, because in Daredevil season two, we were lucky enough to be able to introduce two new characters and watch how they interacted, we went through kind of the creative process,” Ramirez said. “What does it mean now when Frank is in the world? And what does it mean when Frank and Matt are in a scene together? And what does it mean when Elektra and Matt are in scenes together? What do I want to see Matt and Frank do for example? The rooftop episode worked for that. What do we most want to see?”

The Defenders Won’t Get Along At First

You saw what happened when Captain America met Iron Man, and when Thor met the Hulk. Eventually they worked together, but at first their egos conflicted. It was great fun for the audience, but not so much for the people who needed saving. Ramirez said we can expect the same sort of conflict when Jessica Jones meets Matt Murdock, et al. 

“Planning this show has kind of been a lot like planning a dinner party in that we want to seat people next to each other that’ll get along tonally, but at the same time, at first you think we don’t want to seat people next to each other who would fight,” Ramirez said. “Weirdly, we absolutely want to sit people next to each other where there’ll be conflict because we’re storytellers. That’s what comic books and drama are. I can safely say — we’ve got about half the season plotted — I can safely say that everybody interacts at some point in a really satisfying way.”

Petrie added, “They’ll never be fully functional. They’re not the Avengers, although the Avengers certainly fight amongst themselves as well. That’s the fun there, too. So they’ll never really be one big happy, but they will work together and they will kick ass.”

They’ll Still Have Day Jobs

Matt Murdock is a lawyer. Jessica Jones is a private detective. Luke Cage works in a barber shop. The Defenders won’t require anyone to quit their day jobs.

“When you meet each of these characters, basically we’re going to be picking them up not literally where you last saw them but emotionally, they will still be the characters you knew and loved from the shows that they were on,” Ramirez said. “Then we get in some trouble. We tried very much to stay true to who every one of those characters are. Also because I don’t think the audience wants to see great departures from any of the stories they’ve been involved in in who they are.”

One Of These Defenders Is Not Like The Others


A big difference between the Netflix shows and the Marvel movies is that Netflix features street-level heroes. They have enhanced powers, but no one is flying in mechanical suits or arriving from foreign planets with godlike powers. Well, until we meet Iron Fist, that is.

“We’ve got four mythologies,” Petrie began. “So there’s crime, crime, crime, and mysticism. We did allow some mysticism in it as well. We’ll be taking all four worlds and honoring all four worlds, and that’s going to be really, really fun, I think, for the fans, because it’s still going to be a crime show, but it also has heightened elements.”

Drama Is The Set Piece

The Avengers movies can sic aliens on New York or levitate cities into the air, but don’t expect to see that on The Defenders. The set pieces of The Defenders will be when the characters butt heads.

“I think the fun is going to be watching these four great actors have scenes together,” Petrie said. “As much as the action is going to be a big, big selling point, I think what we really want to see is these smart, wounded New York warriors in a room together.”

Ramirez added, “That doesn’t always mean physical altercations or big bads or ticking time bombs or anything like that. Sometimes it’s smaller, and it can be more mature. If a show like Jessica Jones has proven anything, it’s that people really showed up for it. The audiences really loved it and ate it up.”

It’s Like The Wire With Superheroes

Ramriez was very clear that he’s not actually comparing his show to the classic HBO drama The Wire. However, in format, there is a similarity between the Baltimore cop drama and the way The Defenders has brought four separate shows together for one series.

“The only thing I can think of are storylines on a show like — and I hope I’m not getting too highfalutin here — but on a show like The Wire, where you watch a character appear in multiple storylines,” Ramirez said. “You’re like, ‘Oh, now you’re here. Oh, this is interesting.’ Yeah, I think saying it’s a TV version of The Avengers is probably a little misleading. It’s a very character-driven story about four people with their own agendas and their own abilities. They all come together and it’s a very New York story.”

The Action Has Four Styles


Of course, there will be scenes where the Defenders fight bad guys. The complicated problem Petrie and Ramirez have there is that each of the four characters have their own style. Iron Fist is a martial artist, Daredevil is fighting in a full body suit, and Jessica and Luke are brawlers.

“It’s four different tones,” Ramirez said. “They’re four different shows. They’re four different styles of fighting. Even cinematically, the four shows are so different. You’ve seen Luke. The very French Connection vibe of Daredevil is very different from the kind of noir detective stories on JJ [Jessica Jones], is very different from the kind of classic Harlem crime story that is Luke. Just by default, the action sequences or any of the cinematic choices that get made kind of need to incorporate all those elements but still feel organic and their own thing.”

The Villain Has to Be Big Enough For Four

All four separate shows have their own memorable villains. Who could forget David Tennant as Kilgrave on Jessica Jones or Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin on Daredevil? So The Defenders not only has to feature a villain just as impressive, but one who justifies the need for four heroes to fight him.

“That’s part of the challenge, right?” Ramirez said. “Each of them has been powerful enough to take down someone incredibly powerful in all their own shows. The question now feels like, if there’s four of them, they need to deal with something that’s going to feel like it actually really is an imposing threat.”

Perhaps it will take more than one villain to unite the Defenders. “I think that no one person would be enough to take on all four Defenders, but we will have some pretty unique tricks up our sleeve,” Petrie said.

It’s Still A New York Story

Unlike the Avengers, who travel the world on their individual and collective adventures, the Defenders are all characters based in New York. So when they come together, it will be as four New Yorkers.

“I think every season of every show has a new look to New York,” Petrie said. “I think we want to play into the kind of grandeur of New York, the scale, the scope, the size of it. It feels great to still be in New York. It feels great to still be in the world of Matt Murdock but to expand out.”

Tag Cloud

Premiere Dates El Rey Family Infographic cancelled TV shows television FX revenge discovery SundanceTV spain 2015 Paramount Network YouTube slashers ratings Mystery APB period drama justice league Photos Emmys Nominations comiccon rotten movies we love Reality Competition MTV comics adventure SXSW E! harry potter canceled TV shows vampires Kids & Family golden globes ITV tv talk Baby Yoda sports RT21 NYCC Universal Podcast 20th Century Fox Netflix Pride Month BBC America Academy Awards Marathons PBS CW Seed Sony Pictures LGBT Television Academy docudrama Vudu mutant OWN Anna Paquin spider-man San Diego Comic-Con kids Cartoon Network Showtime TLC award winner Lifetime Christmas movies game show canceled TruTV movies Pirates Freeform Syfy cats BET talk show doctor who anthology ABC Musical name the review Schedule cars serial killer YouTube Red facebook VICE The Witch quibi YA movie Masterpiece witnail romance Drama biography aliens Chilling Adventures of Sabrina HBO Superheroes Marvel Television Emmy Nominations ESPN Apple Paramount The CW spy thriller The Arrangement CBS All Access Winners Tumblr versus breaking bad comic screen actors guild Ellie Kemper A24 Elton John Trailer cinemax CBS Rock E3 Women's History Month teaser YouTube Premium Comedy Central HBO Max Comedy Trivia Cosplay based on movie Binge Guide Pet Sematary Amazon Prime political drama crossover CNN TV Land mockumentary Creative Arts Emmys Tarantino romantic comedy DirecTV politics reboot batman zombie Super Bowl historical drama hispanic 007 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Brie Larson WarnerMedia Valentine's Day FOX sequel Nat Geo green book FXX Stephen King Lionsgate Crackle dragons Action Sundance Now unscripted TCA Winter 2020 OneApp Peacock Ovation what to watch RT History zombies Grammys disaster science fiction crime thriller finale elevated horror supernatural Rocketman President TIFF Discovery Channel cults foreign Arrowverse Dark Horse Comics Black Mirror travel streaming DC streaming service TBS cancelled television Summer latino USA TV renewals Interview dramedy TNT Mary Tyler Moore psycho jamie lee curtis Holiday Spring TV thriller 2016 Sci-Fi USA Network Lucasfilm crime drama sitcom First Look Song of Ice and Fire Spectrum Originals series Rocky 2017 SDCC diversity Disney streaming service Mary poppins nature Winter TV directors Chernobyl theme song Calendar Tomatazos Box Office See It Skip It National Geographic composers Avengers Disney+ Disney Plus Amazon Prime Video dogs Captain marvel video Christmas DC Universe festivals children's TV independent Bravo Turner documentary Shudder singing competition hist Hulu Adult Swim Oscars DGA Election indie Ghostbusters Superheroe true crime adaptation Logo Starz ghosts Spike TCA 2017 Tubi BBC X-Men Thanksgiving Musicals TV spinoff psychological thriller technology Year in Review Country Disney Plus Video Games Opinion animated social media free movies Best and Worst The Walking Dead AMC GIFs Disney Endgame Amazon Studios Turner Classic Movies PaleyFest boxoffice Holidays Epix game of thrones Food Network 2020 Apple TV+ Film Netflix Christmas movies joker Pop strong female leads TCM Apple TV Plus DC Comics richard e. Grant cancelled Pixar werewolf Music Character Guide zero dark thirty 2019 Watching Series screenings Western Disney Channel renewed TV shows ABC Family VH1 binge Martial Arts sag awards Crunchyroll Awards Awards Tour cancelled TV series 45 Marvel Biopics Writers Guild of America IFC Films Certified Fresh Countdown 2018 GLAAD Warner Bros. transformers space dceu Rom-Com Teen dc Fall TV anime First Reviews Lifetime Comics on TV Classic Film Set visit 71st Emmy Awards crime Toys Shondaland Star Wars Film Festival History Sundance CMT 24 frames Cannes spanish language south america GoT Quiz Comic Book Hallmark Christmas movies Red Carpet IFC Star Trek Amazon book cooking Heroines cartoon Marvel Studios Animation stand-up comedy MSNBC toy story Mindy Kaling natural history halloween Horror 21st Century Fox Esquire Mary Poppins Returns christmas movies Sneak Peek NBC Sundance TV WGN miniseries Reality Nickelodeon American Society of Cinematographers The Purge cops Fantasy Trophy Talk police drama robots Extras A&E Acorn TV Hallmark Mudbound Walt Disney Pictures Polls and Games Britbox blockbuster Columbia Pictures LGBTQ Fox News casting New York Comic Con TCA blaxploitation MCU medical drama war