This week, Marvel announced the return of the original Defenders to comics this December. Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer will first appear in a series of one-shots by various creators, and then come together in The Defenders: The Best Defense. This will likely be a precursor to a new Defenders series featuring the original members. While it is very exciting to have the original Defenders back in action again, this could mean much bigger things are brewing -- namely, the teaming up of these heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And we are going to lay out the reasons why.
First off, Marvel is all about corporate synergy. If you haven't noticed already, the characters in the pages of Marvel Comics have moved ever so closer to their big screen counterparts ever since the MCU became a thing. Sure, there have been detours (Tony Stark being replaced by Ironheart, Cap going HYDRA, etc.), but that's just the nature of comic book style soap opera storytelling. Marvel likes the comics to reflect what the masses think of these characters as they know them in other media. Specifically, as they are in the blockbuster films and on TV.
When Netflix announced Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist as a series that would culminate in a team-up called The Defenders, Marvel quickly canceled their current version of the team, then called The Fearless Defenders. Then last year, they resurrected The Defenders comic with writer Brian Michael Bendis at the helm, with the Netflix quartet starring in the book. This was so the Defenders in the comics would reflect the Defenders in other media, which would have a lot more eyeballs on it.
But despite the success of the Marvel Netflix shows, the actual Defenders team-up series didn't set the world on fire. It was the lowest-rated of the Marvel Netflix series. Unlike the MCU, where the Avengers team-up films make more money than the solo films almost always, when it came to television, the individual series performed much better. Marvel's Jeph Loeb has said since then they have no current plans for another Defenders series, and are going to focus on the separate shows from now on. Interestingly, the comic book version of the Netflix Defenders also ended as soon as Bendis left for DC. That probably wouldn't have happened if the Netflix version had been a huge hit.
Meanwhile, over on the movie side of things, we all know that both Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are probably done after Avengers 4. While there will likely be a new version of the team (headed by Black Panther and Captain Marvel, no doubt), there is now room for another team up film featuring established characters, and the original Defenders totally fit that bill. You already have Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, who is said to be returning to the role for a second solo film as early as next year. The Hulk is a beloved part of the MCU, and I wouldn't be surprised if Mark Ruffalo wanted to stick around. Valkyrie has also long been a big part of the larger Defenders team in the comics, and everyone wants more of Tessa Thompson in the MCU.
So what about the other main Defenders? Namor is trickier, because Marvel shares film rights for the character with Universal. This very likely means that they can use Namor in a film, but they can't release a movie called Namor: The Sub-Mariner, similarly to how they can't release a solo Hulk movie without Universal onboard. But with Aquaman coming out so soon, would Marvel even want to do their own movie about a half-breed ruler of Atlantis, when it would be compared to DC's no matter what? Wouldn't it best to use him in a team-up film instead?
And now the final piece of the puzzle has come in, as the Silver Surfer has come home to Marvel thanks to the Disney buyout of Fox. A big screen Defenders movie would be a great way to introduce the character, and a lot less costly than a Silver Surfer solo movie. And wouldn't it be the greatest MCU post credits sequence ever, if the Surfer, after having helped save the Earth, contacts his boss Galactus, and we realize he saved us all so that the big purple guy can come and eat us? (Feel free to steal that idea, Kevin Feige.) Of course, this is all just speculation based on circumstantial evidence, but don't be surprised if The Defenders appears alongside The Fantastic Four and The Uncanny X-Men as part of Marvel's Phase IV or V plans when they are announced.
What do you think? Would you welcome the original Defenders into the MCU? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.
Images: Marvel Comics / Netflix