A Quick Primer on the Defenders

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With the all-too-brief security camera footage above, Netflix has finally offered us all a glimpse of Marvel’s Defenders–together for the first time, on screen or anywhere else. And before the whole series streams in August, viewers can get some hints of what life will be like for average citizens during these TV-MA superheroics. The faux news site of the New York Bulletin offers articles from inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

If you’re the kind of fan who enjoys reading fake journalism set in a made-up reality, you might be just as interested in the tangled history of a fictional super team. See, the Defenders haven’t ever looked like what you see in the feed above. The line-up below is the “traditional” Defenders roster. Note the absence of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, or Jessica Jones. Intrigued? Read on.

The TV take is actually comparable to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, in that this conception of the team is actually quite different from how it’s been defined for the majority of its existence. However, while the contemporary Starlord/Drax/Rocket/Groot/Gamora revamp appeared in the comics at least a few years prior to the GotG feature, there have never actually been Defenders like these.

Yes, the initial hook offered up in the early 70s was a super group that was even less likely to work together than the Avengers. The classic line-up included loners like the Hulk, Silver Surfer, Namor, and Dr. Strange, but they were billed as an “anti-team,” so the green goliath and the sorcerer supreme were the only mainstays. Characters who’d cycle in included Valkyrie (who’ll be showing up in Thor: Ragnarok), Hellcat (who’s been re-imagined as Jessica Jones’ BFF for Netflix), Beast (of the X-Men), Nighthawk (Marvel’s analog for Batman), Gargoyle, and yes, the Son of Satan. Luke Cage actually was a member briefly, but he rather infamously discovered he wasn’t cut-out for their other-worldly adventures.

While they were never labeled as “Defenders,” there have been two Marvel outfits which have run with the conceit of making less-powerful, street-level superheroes work together. The first was Heroes for Hire, which saw Iron Fist expanding his best pal Luke Cage’s business model by putting together an entire organization of mercenary capes. This team would include names familiar to Marvel movie-goers, like Ant-Man and Deadpool, along with characters who’ve yet to appear in live-action, such as White Tiger, Hercules, and the Black Knight. Like the Defenders, their line-up was inconstant, and their missions were far and away from any of the gritty realism this iteration is going for.

Another attempt to ally street-level characters together came in the 2000s with Marvel Knights. Even more of an anti-team than the Defenders, this outfit didn’t actually have a name. Its ranks included Daredevil, Punisher, and Black Widow, along with the Bruce Lee analog Shang-Chi and Dagger (one half of the Cloak & Dagger partnership who’ll be getting their own TV series at Freeform in 2018). That book was short-lived, but the concept was pretty much re-visited in the second and third incarnations of Heroes for Hire. These teams were spearheaded by the “Daughters of the Dragon,” Misty Knight and Colleen Wing; heroines who appearing throughout Netflix’s shows. It looks like this Defenders will cherrypick from these later series, more so than the traditional Defenders title.

Knowing all this, are you more excited for Defenders show, now? Sound off in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: Marvel/Netflix

Image Credits: Marvel

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