Marvel Defenders Review. How bad Is It?

That’s a question I have been hearing lately. It’s like people are just assuming that it will be pretty bad, especially after the way so many were disappointed with Iron Fist season one. So how bad is it?

The first review I saw included the complaint “it’s so boring. It’s all talk and no action.” The second review I read mentioned how “it’s hard to connect with because there isn’t enough story between the constant fight scenes.”

Later, I came across a review by someone who was upset that the characters weren’t presented very well and that “Defenders undoes everything that the characters accomplished in their own series.” That was followed by a review that said the best part was that the series built upon what went before and actually had a significant impact upon the characters.

So… what did I think?

To me, this was one potentially the best Netflix Marvel series yet. I won’t say it was without flaws, but it was quite enjoyable, It was a good culmination of the previous series’s storylines and did a good job of involving the many characters. I’ll try and tackle a few of the key complaints and give my views.

The Heroes

I think everyone was pretty well-presented. I thought that they were all consistent with their previous appearances and each character was impacted by the story, which was nice. Often in this type of thing, there is no real character development because that is saved for the character’s own show, but each character had at least some growth– though Iron Fist and Daredevil obviously benefitted the most from the storlyine, as it tied in directly to their origins.

On the topic of Danny Rand, I never personally had any issue with him. Yes, he’s dumb at times… well, fairly often… but he is well-meaning and I think he is representative of how a lot of people might react in his situation. Remember those days when people liked Marvel heroes because they tended to be flawed, “normal” people?

I like Danny because he is a good person, who manages to screw up, but wants to do the right thing. He has been through a lot, and I personally think it makes sense for him to suffer from PTSD given the loss of his parents, the training/ beatings he received in K’un Lun and the mystical, possibly rather-mindbending experiences he has had. He is deeply flawed, but it leaves a lot of room for growth, and he experiences some of that here.

Matt Murdock has his own arc involving his desire to stop being Daredevil and live a normal life at the start of the show, to realising that “this is my life” later on. He accepts his role as Daredevil and seems to come to terms with it, at least for now.

Jessica Jones starts the series in an even darker frame of mind than in her own series, but likely because of the resolution of her enounter with the Purple Man (Kilgrave). She is even harder-drinking than before (if possible) and seems to have abandoned any concern for anyone outside of her immediate circle of Malcolm and Trish.Her attitude and nasty quips are what make her fun in this series, however, as she continually mocks both Danny and Matt– especially when he’s in costume. It’s actually the interraction with Matt that gives her some development however, as she starts to show some respect for him and by the end of the series, genuine concern. By the last time we see her, she is ready to start being part of society again.

Luke Cage probably has the least development, but even he has some nice moments with Jess, a brief nod toward the comic book relationship he has with Danny, and he gets to act in a couple of scenes as the moral compass of the team. I may or may not be the only one who is hoping to see him back with Jess at some point, so I was happy to see that there remains real affection and caring between them. Jessica even suggest that perhaps they will “have coffee” again sometime.

Even the supporitng characters have roles to play, to one degree or another. The big winners here are Colleen Wing– whose story wraps up her experiences from Iron Fist nicely– and Claire, who continues to be a voice of reason and a grounding force for the team.

The Villains

I know that some people are pretty sick of the hand, though honestly, we haven’t seen that much of them, when taking all 4 series (now 5) into account, and the fact is that they are supposed to be massively influential and integrated into all parts of society, so it kind of makes sense that they would be, you know, present.

I happen to really like Madame Gao. I find her interesting, quite possibly due to the portrayal by Wai Ching Ho, but also due to her mysterious past, which is elaborated on here. Despite being one of the primary villains, I found myself constantly hoping she would survive the series.

There seems to be some difference of opinion about Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, though most of the negative views are centered around the character as written, not her portrayal. I thought she was great in every scene she had, though I agree that she never really exuded the sense of menace that the writing tried to portray. She had one brief physical encounter with Stick, which was meant to show her fighting ability, but I had a hard time taking it seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a geat actress, but I am glad they didn’t try to do too much of the physical stuff with her.

Rounding out the villains were the other leaders of the Hand: Bakuto (last seen in Iron Fist), Sowande and Murakami. Each of them, like Alexandra and Gao, had once studied in K’un Lun, but eventually turned their thoughts from healing to immortality and were cast out. Having lived countless lifetimes, they build the Hand into a global organization with massive influence, all while remaining hidden.

The In-Between

Then there’s Elektra, Matt’s former lover, brought back from the dead by Alexandra to somehow help the Hand fulfill their goals in New York. I put Elektra somewhere in between the heroes and the villains because even though she is definitely much more on the villain side, there is still good in her, as Matt keeps trying to convince her, and she continually passes on opportunites that she has to kill not only Matt, but one would assume the other Defenders as well.

Elektra is not my favourite character in this series, but she is clearly the most effective physical presence on the “villain” side and thus one of the biggest threats throughout.

The Story

Ok, so, let’s be honest: the story is not spectacular. It certainly isn’t as bad as some are implying, but it is a bit weak and does have it’s share of illogical moments and inconsistencies. The entire Black Sky storyline with Elektra is fantastically anti-climactic, and the ultimate goals of the Hand remain somewhat nebulous. Their stated intention of returning to K’un Lun is all well and good, but the focus of their efforts is entering a sealed dome under New York, where they expect to gain more of the substance, which is responsible for their longevity and ability to resurrect their members.

It’s implied (at least, I took it this way) that the Hand has undertaken this sort of endeavour before in places like Pompei and Chrnobyl, resulting in mass destruction. This time, however, they encounter a new difficulty in that the dome beneath New York has been sealed by a previous Iron Fist. Gao says that this is the first time that they have encountered such a thing, and all implications are that this one particular location will be the ultimate culmination of centuries of work by the Hand… The only problem is, they never say what’s so special about it. Once the seal on the dome is boken, there doesn’t seem to be anything that they haven’t encountered dozens of times in the past.

At the end of the day, I didn’t complain too much about this because the story was basically just a means to get the characters together, but if too much time is spent contemplating it, it becomes increasingly frustrating that they didn’t follow through on years of build-up.

Overall

I am not going to be too negative about the Defenders. I enjoyed it. I loved seeing the characters together, I liked the hints of what could come (Heroes for Hire, Daughters of the Dragon), and it did manage to set up the characters for their respective series’s returns.

It may not have been everything we hoped for, but overall it was fun and enjoyable. It was the only Marvel Netflix series to date that made me gasp audibly at one event, and shed a few tears at another.It has given me renewed hope for the Marvel Netflix universe.

At least until Disney pulls out. But that’s another story for another time.

What did you think about The Defenders? Let’s talk !

A Quick Wonder Woman Movie Review

So, this won’t be a big, in-depth review of the Wonder Woman movie, but I will share some thoughts, with potential mild spoilers.

I saw the movie yesterday with my wife and our two sons (14 and 4). I had some hesitation about bringing the little one and asked a friend if they thought it was too intense for a kid his age. She replied that there was “a bit of Steve (Trevor)’s thigh, but no real nudity.” Well… that wasn’t really what I was worried about. My kids are very blasé when it comes to nudity. It’s normal and natural. I was more concerned about the violence, given that it’s set during WWI and Wonder Woman herself is running around with a sword much of the time. Fortunately, most of the violence is at the level of the typical comics; people are punched and thrown around, or hit with Diana’s sword without any accompanying spurt of blood. There are only one or two moments of showing the war-wounded soldiers, meant to convey the horrors of the battlefield, which might be somewhat distressing to the very young. For the most part, the action isn’t worse than what is seen on TV. Still, it will depend on your child. People clearly do die, even if it isn’t very graphic.

On the topic of action, it was well-presented, I feel, though I am not a big proponent of the slo-mo that is overused these days. There was some here, but not as much as some other films, and not enought to actively annoy me. Better still, there was no super-tight close-ups where you couldn’t see what was happening, and no wildly-swinging camera to give you vertigo.

Gal Gadot herself plays Wonder Woman about as well as could be expected. I grew up with Lynda Carter, but I never had the view that some others do, of her being the only  person who could play the character. Gadot plays her with charm and innocence, but also a strength of will and fierceness that suits the story. The only thing that surprised me was that she has a somewhat raspy voice at times, but it wasn’t an issue for me.

Some say that the difficult thing to convey  about Wonder Woman is that she is willing to kill (like many heroes these days), but she is also one of the least likely to do so without trying to make peace first. That goes very well with one of my favourite lines from the comic: “We have a saying, my people. ‘Don’t kill if you can wound, don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify, and don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve extended it.’ ”

There were some mild complaints about the third act and how it “degenerated” into a CGI-fest, but I didn’t see that way. It went as I would have expected it to (although with a couple of surprises…) and after the more down-to-earth battles, gave those accustomed to the comic a good view of Diana’s real power level, which seemed to grow from typical Amazon to true Wonder Woman levels throughout the film.

I was a bit sad to see Etta Candy and Steve Trevor as part of this story, because I was hoping to have them be part of the ongoing series in the modern day, but they were both great in the film.

I have absolutely no qualms about recommending this film. About an hour after arriving home, I was ready to go out and watch it again. Although I would have preferred if Diana had been bit a bit slower to kill, she certainly wasn’t bloodthirsty or indifferent to the act.  She was a better example of the heroic hero that I grew up with and have been desperate to see on the big screen.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman, go see it. If you have seen it, see it again. And if you have seen it twice already, pre-order the Blu-Ray. This movie deserves all the support it can get. With any luck, we will have Wonder Woman set the tone for future superhero films.

Share your thoughts with me below.

Craig

 

Wonder Woman Reviews So Far Are Great

Despite concerns from many fans over the past several months, the reviews that are coming in for Wonder Woman have been overwhelmingly positive. This is such great news, not just for DC, but for the prospect of female-led superhero films. Yes we have had great female action leads in the past (Ellen Ripley comes immediately to mind), but we are lacking a strong female presence in the superhero genre.

 

I am hopeful that this will lead to more diversity and chance-taking within the genre. Perhaps if Wonder Women does well enough at the box office, we will finally see Marvel put out a Black Widow movie, thought there are any number of other female characters that they could (and should) bring to life as well.

Are you planning on seeing Wonder Woman? Do you have reservations, or are you excited for the film? Share your thoughts below!

Craig

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Finally! A Star Trek Discovery Trailer! Only…

So, we finally have a trailer for the upcoming Star Trek Discovery series, and… I just don’t know. I have somewhat mixed feelings. Take a look:

 

Ok, I am going to be a bit nitpicky here, but I have to comment on a few things.

They decided to set the new series in the Prime (that is to say, REAL) universe. That means it is in line with the continuity of Enterprise, the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager. It is not set in the alternate universe established in the J.J Abrams movies. This was a big plus for me and one of the main reasons for my initial excitement. Finally, I thought, we’ll see what follows Voyager and Star Trek Nemesis!

Unfortunately, they opted to set it in the past. Again. This is disappointing for a couple of reasons. Fans have wanted for some time to see what happens next in the Trek universe and also simply because the entire concept of the franchise is to boldly go forward and explore. Why then, is the series looking back, especially when we have the current movies doing just that?

And why on earth would they choose to explore the past if they aren’t even going to maintain continuity? Sure, they are involving Sarek, perhaps as a way to force cohesion with the other series, but Discovery takes place in 2255, approximately (Kirk took command of Enterprise in or slightly before 2265). At this point in time, Captain Pike would be approximately one year into his command. Why do the uniforms of Discovery’s crew not match Starfleet standard as seen in The Cage, the original Star Trek pilot featuring Captain Pike? Is Discovery somehow serving in another branch of Starfleet, with different uniforms? I could perhaps accept that, but why would their uniforms have Enterprise’s Delta? Their uniforms should have their own insignia.

And those Klingons… Sigh. Abrams’s redesign of the warrior race didn’t sit well with me and a number of other fans. I was hopeful that Discovery would show Klingons properly. During this time period, the majority– or even the entirety– of Klingons that the Federation would encounter would be afflicted by the Klingon Augment Virus, resulting in Klingons that resembled their original series look. And if for some reason Discovery was dealing with Klingons that were unaffected, then we should see Klingons as depicted in the Next Generation-era shows. I am creating my own “head canon” that states they are another race/ offshoot of Klingons from a different part of the Empire. Or perhaps they are another kind of mutation caused by the Augment Virus. I really hope the show addresses this.

I didn’t expect to see a tOS-style bridge or technology, but some effort could have been made to visually match the design of Starfleet. I am now in the very uncomfortable position of saying that Abrams’s Trek did a better job of respecting the source (at least the look of it.)

I am trying to maintain some optimism and not judge it before seeing at least a couple of episodes (and thankfully Netflix will make it available for those outside of the US), but the fact that they are not being consistent with what went before makes me wonder how closely they will follow the ideology of Trek.

Please be good, Discovery. I want real Trek again. Please be good and a worthy inheritor of the name Star Trek so that you can Live Long and Prosper.

Craig

From virtually no tech skills at all, to having my own site! Find out how you can do the same!

Marvel Defenders on Netflix

So the trailer for Marvel’s Defenders on Netflix was released today and I have to say that I am really looking forward to this. Taking place approximately one month after the much-maligned Iron Fist, the four heroes (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) are brought together by as-yet unknown circumstances (and Sigourney Weaver…) to defend New York City.

I should really say unknown circumstances, as it clearly involves the Hand and Elektra, but thus far there is little to no information about Sigourney Weaver’s character. I had been somewhat hopeful to see Wilson Fisk, AKA the Kingpin, making his return in this series, but it doesn’t seem that he will, unless it’s being kept secret. Weaver’s character actually seems to be taking the position I expected him to. Who she is and how she comes into conflict with the four heroes will be interesting to discover, as will the fate of Madame Gao and Davos, both of whom were last seen in Daredevil. Certain supporting characters will be part of the story, including Foggy and Karen from Daredevil, Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones and Iron Fist, Misty Knight from Luke Cage and Colleen Wing from Iron Fist. Claire, who has been in every series, will also be involved. As for other important characters, I haven’t heard.

On a side note, I really wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off from this involving Misty and Colleen, and perhaps Claire. One would think that a series of strong female characters kicking butt and taking names would have appeal, especially given the diversity of the actresses playing them.

Take a look at the trailer below and tell me what you think. Are you looking forward to it? Does it hold no appeal for you? Are you still irritated over Iron Fist and thus turned off of Marvel’s Neflix universe?

I’d love to hear!

Craig

From virtually no tech skills to my own site! Learn how you can do it too!