The Defenders will soon be upon us — Friday, in fact. The ambitious eight-episode miniseries has been in the works since Marvel and Netflix first announced their partnership and now is finally realized. Besides the headliners of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, key members of their supporting cast will also be dropping by.
The Avengers before it, the miniseries is attempting something new by mixing the established casts of four separate shows. Of course, trying to remember everybody from three years of projects is a lot to ask, so take a look at this refresher course on The Defenders and their friends.
If you’re unfamiliar with the comic books and don’t want to know what may be in store for some of these characters, skip the “What to expect” sections of this gallery. Spoiler alert:
Danny Rand A practitioner of serious Kung-Fu with his own series, (Finn Jones)
Who is he? Iron Fist. Danny is the last surviving member of a wealthy Manhattan industrialist family. Presumed dead when the rest his family was killed in a plane crash 15 years ago, he was trained in the mystical city of K’un-lun to become the Immortal Iron Fist. Though the role meant defending the city from the ancient ninja clan known as The Hand, he abandoned his post to return to New York in the hopes of letting his childhood friends know he’s still alive. Also, he really loves Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean.”
Where we left off: Much to his dismay, Danny discovered that the inter-dimensional path back to K’un-Lun has been destroyed; the work of The Hand.
What to expect: The Defenders will focus on the group’s greatest fight against The Hand, and Danny has plenty of reasons to jump into the battle. No doubt that flight back to New York was fraught with tension. But beyond being gung-ho to join up, he will soon meet his best friend in the world. Although, one imagines they’ll bump heads first. It’s a Marvel crossover tradition.
Luke Cage A super-tough escaped convict with a strong sense of what’s right and an entire series dedicated to his journey. He was press-ganged into a strange Wolverine-esque experiment that left him with impenetrable skin. He’s also an impressive fighter. Despite these superhuman abilities, he can still get hurt, as both (Mike Coutler)
Who is he? Jessica Jones and Diamondback proved in the first seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. He’s definitely a good man though. So much so that people react with rage to his goodness.
Where we left off: Despite defending Harlem, Cage was arrested and returned to prison. But his not-quite-girlfriend Claire Temple offered to get him legal aid from the only lawyer she trusts: a man formerly of Nelson & Murdoch.
What to expect: Luke is back in New York and, presumably, back with Claire. That will no doubt cause some tension with Jessica, who isn’t the most understanding of people. Also, he’s about to make a very special new friend in the form of Danny Rand. If that rapport between Coulter and Jones at Comic-Con is any indication, Luke will certainly be bemused by his new full-of-energy pal.
Jessica Jones A super-strong orphan with her own self-titled series and a lot to unpack. She’s survived horrific car wrecks, falling of buildings, and extreme emotional abuse at the mind of a man who looks like Doctor Who. Naturally, this makes for a less-than-cheery disposition. But at least she has her best friend Trish watching her back, right?
Who is she? Where we left off: After finishing off Kilgrave (David Tennant) for good, Jessica discovered a clue to the source of her still-mysterious powers. There’s a company to hunt for, and they might be hunting for her. Also, people want to hire her now for her skills and her powers.
What to expect: Someone has to be the most reluctant Defender, right? And it’s easy to see how Jessica would fill that role. She doesn’t play well with others, and there’s some baggage with Luke and Claire. At the same time, she’ll make fun of Matt Murdoch and Danny for their more traditional views on this heroing jazz. Also, it’s hard to see how Hand agents will be able to stop her.
Matt Murdoch The Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen in the series of the same name. An encounter with chemicals as a child blinded him, but heightened his other senses to create a sort of super-vision. He intends to use this ability to clean up his neighborhood, but often finds himself half-dead on the pavement. Also, he’s also a lawyer and his relationships tend to end badly.
Who is he? Where we left off: He revealed to Karen Page that he is, in fact, Daredevil. He also lost his firm, his best friend, and the love of his life, Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung). Somehow, he still thinks his old mentor Stick (Scott Glenn) is wrong about being emotionally detached.
What to expect: Thanks to Stick, The Hand has always been Matt’s problem. He’ll be an easy man to recruit. But the stakes will be big for him: The Hand’s new weapon is Elektra. On the Defenders side of things, it’s easy to see him bonding with everybody. Matt’s actually good at that. It’s keeping loved ones out of harm’s way that he has a problem with.
Elektra Natchios Someone Matt couldn’t keep out of harm’s way in (Elodie Yung)
Who is she? Daredevil. More importantly, she is an heiress and badass ninja type. She brought a bit of danger to Matt’s life and clearly has an adrenaline addiction. She’s also essential to The Hand’s plans for New York.
Where we left off: Elektra died. She did so helping Matt defeat The Hand’s latest scheme, but fulfilled her role in the myth of Daredevil. Elektra’s death is one of the most legendary things to ever happen in the annals of Marvel Comics. So was her return.
What to expect: She gets better, but she’s also under The Hand’s control, so that makes her even wilder of a card than she was before. Expect at least one emotionally charged fight here. Swords optional.
Claire Temple A nurse who happens to work mostly at night — and across Marvel series. She’s patched up just about every do-gooder in the current quartet of Marvel-Netflix series except (Rosario Dawson)
Who is she? Jessica Jones’ Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) and faced The Hand on numerous occasions despite not being a combatant. She’s also a friend of Iron Fist’s Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) and probably still in that relationship with Luke. Despite carrying a note he wrote to her from prison, she’s reluctant to give their situation a name.
Where we left off: While trying to use legal pressure to get Luke released, she helped Danny and Colleen with their battle against The Hand. It’s personal now for her as The Hand’s attack on the hospital back in Daredevil season 2 destroyed a great part of her professional life.
What to expect: After the shock that she knows everybody wears off, one imagines Claire will finally take getting justice into her own hands. Oh, there will also probably be some tension with Luke and Jessica and maybe even Luke Cage’s Misty Knight (Simone Missick). How did her life get so complicated? Oh, right, she helped Matt Murdoch.
Foggy Nelson Matt Murdoch’s long-suffering best friend and former business partner. Foggy’s quiet strength gets him into trouble, but it’s also the reason why he’s still alive. He’s the moral center for (Elden Henson)
Who is he? Daredevil that should not be ignored. Nevertheless, he’s often ignored.
Where we left off: Foggy went corporate again, taking Jeri Hogarth’s offer of a partner-track position at Hogarth, Chao & Benowitz. Presumably, the benefits package will help with his tendency to end up bruised. And though his departure from Nelson & Murdoch wasn’t the worst falling out he and Matt have had, it wasn’t really a celebration, either.
What to expect: Reconciliation of a sort. Foggy and Matt are a one-true-pairing level friendship, even if Foggy has every right to be done with Matt and invoke the nuclear option. Although, it’s possible Foggy will only be seen in the courtroom, avoiding Matt and saving their real reunion for season 3 of Daredevil.
Colleen Wing A badass ninja type who first appeared in (Jessica Henwick)
Who is she? Iron Fist and is unaware that she had The Hand to thank for her ninja training. Oh, she’s also sort of seeing that Danny Rand guy. Not that she was into it at first, but jet-setting to China to fight ninjas has a romantic element to it.
Where we left off: She finally has financial autonomy as Danny signed over the deed to her building. So, she’s going to make a go of her Chikara Dojo.
What to expect: Though Colleen’s major connection to the Defenders is Danny, she’s about to make an acquaintance as important as Danny will be to Luke. She also has a score to settle with The Hand and one imagines they’d also like a return on their investment in her. She was also training Claire, so expect them to spar in some fashion.
Misty Knight One of the few NYPD officers to survive getting acquainted with a Defender (Luke Cage). She’s an investigative genius and tough to stop. She also had a brief fling with Luke, but that definitely took a backburner when the situation in Harlem erupted. She also took a bullet to the arm during the battle with Diamondback, a reference to her comic book counterpart losing a limb.
Who is she? Where we left off: After learning her partner was corrupt and dead, surviving the battle at the club and dealing with Luke’s arrest, Misty took a nice long rest. But she still wants the system to work, so she’s sticking with the NYPD.
What to expect: Misty and Colleen will become fast friends. Oh, there will probably be misunderstandings first – this is a Marvel team-up, after all – but the two will become a pair worthy of their own spin-off. Expect this thread to be explored in subsequent seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Trish Walker A former child star turned radio talk show host. She’s also Jessica’s best friend — an occupation in its own right. But like Jessica, she has a lot to unpack. Unlike her best friend, she’s more (Rachael Taylor)
Who is she? willing to unpack the emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother. Or, at the very least, acknowledge it while learning some martial arts.
Where we left off: Trish always encouraged Jessica to go into heroing, but it’s unclear if that’s been successful in any way. She also still summarizes events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on her morning show and supported Luke in his quest, if only by mentioning it on the air.
What to expect: Patsy Walker – AKA Hellcat. In the comics, Trish has a well-established history as a costumed hero in her own right. And it’s easy to see how an encounter with the Defenders would finally light the fuse for her. Of course, she may not do much beyond waving their banner on the air, but who knows what that could lead to…
Karen Page Murdoch & Nelson’s former assistant in (Deborah Ann Woll)
Who is she? Daredevil turned ace reporter for the beleaguered New York Bulletin. She cracked the corruption case wide open and made it possible for audiences to sympathize with The Punisher.
Where we left off: Karen left the legal team behind to honor the memory of Ben Urich at the Bugle Bulletin. She also left Matt behind, which is a good thing considering his relationships lead to a lot of physical injury for all evolved. At the Bulletin, she reported on Rand Enterprises’ connection to cancer-causing chemical plants after Danny leaked the information to her.
What to expect: With her sense of justice and investigative skill, Karen might be the one to reveal The Hand to the world. Someone outside the Defenders has to do it and Karen is the best suited for the job; more so even than Trish. Also, expect her and Matt to be on friendlier terms.
Malcolm Ducasse Jessica’s neighbor and another Kilgrave victim. Turns out Jessica saved him during a brief attempt at heroing earlier in her life. Kilgrave discovered this and used his mind-control powers to force Malcolm into a heroin addiction. After Jessica helped him get clean, he began a support group for all of Kilgrave’s victims.
Who is he? Where we left off: After coming to grips with the abuse, Malcolm offered to become Jessica’s secretary.
What to expect: Malcom’s great gift is his ability to run support. Expect him to do the same in The Defenders. Then again, he might also start a support group for the team’s friends and loved ones.
Stick Matt’s mentor in (Scott Glenn)
Who is he? Daredevil and one of the few people aware of The Hand’s real threat. He’s also an angry old cuss who believes Daredevil should be detached from everyone. Considering how often Matt’s friends get hurt, he’s not entirely out of line with that thought.
Where we left off: He and Matt parted on good terms, even if they still disagree about emotional involvement. As last seen, he’s wandering the streets, waiting for The Hand to strike again.
What to expect: Stick’s determination will get him into serious trouble one day. Meanwhile, he will recruit the Defenders to take on The Hand. Expect him to be unimpressed with all of them and any of their friends he happens to meet.
Jeri Hogarth A high-powered attorney who is (Carrie-Anne Moss)
Who is she? really tough to get along with. She hired Jessica to snoop on people and represented Danny in his bid to win back Rand Enterprises. She also talked Foggy into going corporate. There was also that business about her divorce and working with Kilgrave. It was … messy.
Where we left off: She’s still Danny’s legal counsel, even if his interest in the business is questionable.
What to expect: Heroes for Hire. It may not happen in The Defenders, but in Marvel Comics lore her counterpart ends up representing Luke and Danny’s heroing service. Misty and Colleen have been part of the business from time to time as well. Like tempting Foggy, maybe she’ll suggest the idea of a limited liability partnership to the group. As for the miniseries itself? Everybody’s going to need representation before it’s over.
Alexandra The person everyone is defending against in (Sigourney Weaver)
Who is she? Marvel’s The Defenders. Alexandra is the sophisticated leader of The Hand; the pesky group of ninjas with the ancient resurrection machine. She’s in town to enact the final part of their plan for New York.
Where we left off: Not applicable. Alexandra is a new character for The Defenders, but Marvel villains have a habit of being just out of frame during important moments (like the Daredevil siege on the hospital), only to later reveal that they were there the whole time.
What to expect: “I don’t really consider her a villain — we’re antagonists,” Weaver told a group of journalists, including Rotten Tomatoes, during Comic-Con about Alexandra and Elektra. “Complex characters with other goals.” Expect her character’s initial bemusement with this fearsome foursome to become outright aggravation as the Defenders continue to get in her way.