The Defenders: 1.01 The H Word
Building a cinematic universe takes time. Look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), first started in 2008 with Jon Faverau's Iron Man and continuing up until the present day with the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Maybe DC need a nudge and a bit of advice with the rather rushed DC Cinematic Universe; just look at 2016's daft Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. With all these Universes becoming too big for their own good, they have now set their eyes on the small screen, on the behemoth that is Netflix of all things.
Here we are with Marvels' The Defenders; made up of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil. How would this work on the small screen after the success of the big screen? Let's take an Aquaman sized deep dive into episode one entitled The H Word.
What is abundantly clear is that each individual show had its own distinctive look and flavour and this is the first hurdle that The Defenders has to overcome. With the reintroduction of each character over with, the show finds it difficult to find its own footing. Each character has a distinctive colour palette (Daredevil, red, Jessica Jones, purple, Luke Cage, gold and Iron Fist, yellow) and the transitions between scenes are jarring in this opening episode but I can see this becoming simply something to become accustomed to. We can't say for certain that this thread will run through other episodes after the viewing of only one of the series' full eight, but within this episode the tone is distinctively all over the place as we see the characters in their own little pockets of life.
Camera work across the episode directed by Marvel TV stalwart S.J. Clarkson is fluid and invasive. Traditional television camera work is very static and The Defenders is something else entirely. Flying through walls, over walls, spinning around characters, the camera is almost another character in the show entirely and the watcher can't help but feel part of this world, almost invasively so.
Guest star and all around goddess Sigourney Weaver is introduced in the sterile environment of a hospital room, being advised that she has a terminal illness, and does not have long to live. The set up here shows the character at one with the cards she has been dealt and how alone she is, played with a quiet intensity. A great visual example of this is the shot depicting she changes into a hospital gown behind frosted glass and all we can see in focus is her hand on the glass as she lets out a frustrated gasp of air.
The overall feel of the episode is one of reintroduction and not much else. Some of these characters we haven't seen for the best part of two years, in Daredevil's case, and we are slowly introduced to where they are now. What we are all waiting for really is the group to come together (al la The Avengers) for the greater good and finally kick ass.