A second season of Marvel’s The Defenders is unlikely according to one of its leads, Krysten Ritter. Doing the rounds to promote the second season of Jessica Jones, which dropped on Netflix last week, Ritter stated that as far she’s aware, a second season of the Avengers-style crossover of Marvel’s Netflix shows isn’t happening, adding that The Defenders was planned for only one season to begin with.
While as much may be disappointing to some fans, it’s not surprising to hear that Marvel and Netflix aren’t altogether interested in revisiting the idea. Crossovers of the kind Marvel have made fashionable are a complicated process of contracts and story-telling and a whole myriad of other issues. Before anything you’ve got to line-up everyone’s schedules, find a good release date and find a compelling reason for them to come together, all of which is best done in advance of the composite productions to allow for foreshadowing and other details far ahead of time. It’s a hard thing to pull off, and really, in this case, avoiding the struggle is what’s best for all involved.
This Page: The Defenders Was A Disappointment
The Defenders Was A Disappointment
Look, let’s just admit it: The Defenders wasn’t great. Some neat action sequences and hints at future character crossovers aside, The Defenders was a dud, with the viewership stats to prove it. “A group of heroes fight evil ninjas, HBO-style” is great on paper, but in execution, over eight hours, with a team that only barely gelled, it just didn’t work. Only half the protagonists, Danny Rand and Matt Murdoch, had genuine reason to be present, Murdoch being the only one whose story was effectively moved forward any. The casting of Sigourney Weaver is the sole reason the main antagonist was in any way interesting and Elektra and Daredevil’s tragic love-story had some legs to it until you realize it’s a shameless rehash of Steve and Bucky’s plot from the Captain America films. And that’s before we talk about the labored sleuthing and exposition to pad out the story and kill time between fight scenes.
And to be fair to the show, a lot of the issues are inherent in the concept. Doing a big crossover is easy when the crossing-over is occurring within a two-hour period with lots of punching and explosions, ditto when drawing from films of a similar length. The longer the crossover and the more distinct the individual composite parts, the harder it gets to create a plot that satisfies all parties and works on its own merits. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were mostly relegated to co-star status because the corners they inhabit in the Netflix-verse had very little to do with The Hand before The Defenders, and the overlap is still minute. The chemistry and interplay did provide some solace – Cage did wonders getting Rand over after the tepid response to Iron Fist – but even that could only do so much. In fact, the biggest takeaway from The Defenders was how unnecessary it is as a show of its own.
Netflix Doesn’t Need Avengers-Style Team-Ups
Each of the team members’ own series, as well as The Punisher, has its own thematic and narrative through-lines. Daredevil’s struggle to keep his community honest and fair is different to Jessica Jones’ personal battle with internalized trauma which is another animal to Frank Castle’s brand of vigilante-therapy for the system that made him a killer and took away his family and so on. One of the great qualities of what Netflix and Marvel are doing here is that we get to see deeper versions of these heroes than any film would allow. These series can get intimate and focus in on uncomfortable ideas and relationships between these characters in ways that make railroading their stories into some forced inter-mingling unnecessary, even undesirable. When these shows are good they stand on their own in such a way that it’s not seeing them together that’s the exciting part, it’s the next season.
That’s not to say the minor nods to one another aren’t to be appreciated. Rosario Dawson’s Night Nurse has been a recurring source of warmth and humanization in the universe, and Karen Page was an invaluable asset to The Punisher. These cursory reminders of a shared existence adequately remind us of the different stories all happening concurrently, while providing fan-service to comics history that’s not over-bearing. There’s a refreshing independence to each plot that is ultimately harmed when one of the release slots for a new season is taken by a contrived get-together to fight some one-off villain.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some bigger ideas, though.
Page 2 of 2: What Should be Next For Marvel’s Netflix Shows?