Weaver Defenders

The Boring Villains

First thing’s first: I really hope Marvel paid Sigourney Weaver a boatload of money for her comically underused character. Get that cash, girl.

Weaver is Alexandra, one of the five “fingers” of The Hand, and I guess the leader? Who knows? Who cares! Not this show. Alexandra is apparently very, very old (we’re talking centuries here) and also dying. She’s the one in charge of resurrecting Elektra from the dead so that the formerly deceased ninja can become the unstoppable killing machine known as the Black Sky.

There are some eerie moments between Alexandra and Elektra that show an almost twisted  mother-daughter relationship, but it doesn’t amount to much. In fact, nothing Weaver does here amounts to much.

This isn’t Weaver’s fault: she does the absolute best she can with the material she’s given, and brings an icy charm the part. There are some particularly great moments between Weaver and Glenn, two consummate pros who can out-act pretty much the entire cast. But Weaver’s part is ultimately a big waste. The character is set-up to be the Big Bad only to get killed off before she can do anything serious. This seems to be a favorite trick of Marvel’s Netflix, since they did pretty much the same thing with Mahershala Ali’s super slick bad guy Cottonmouth in Luke Cage.

The whole thing comes off as an elaborate joke the showrunners are pulling on the audience. “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we cast Sigourney Weaver and made people think she was going to be this super cool villain, only to have her get quickly killed off?” No. It wouldn’t.

The real Big Bad of The Defenders is Elektra, who spends a good chunk of the series as a brainwashed killing machine, then sort-of gets her memories back but not really. It’s all very vague. In fact, every single thing the villains in The Defenders do is very vague. The Hand may have been interesting when Frank Miller created them for the Daredevil comics, but in the Marvel-Netflix world, they’re inept and boring. Honestly, does anyone care about Madame Gao anymore? Or Bakuto? Do you even remember who Bakuto is? Don’t lie.

defenders group 2

Heroes Get Remembered, But Franchises Never Die

Despite all the aforementioned flaws, The Defenders is oddly watchable. You’ll be able to binge it with ease, and then we can all get back to waiting for new seasons of the better Marvel-Netflix standalones. Those shows would be best served following The Defenders’ lead and cutting the episode count down to eight, but perhaps even that is too many.

The first three episodes of The Defenders are the very definition of stretching for time. Even though there have been multiple seasons of TV introducing us to who these characters are and what they do, The Defenders unwisely devotes three whole hours to reintroducing them. The sooner Marvel and Netflix learn that less is more, the better off we’ll all be.

The Defenders should’ve been a huge event, something that people just can’t stop talking about for weeks, something worth revisiting. Instead, it’s just another stepping stone. Wouldn’t it be much more exciting to create a memorable stand-alone work rather than just another smorgasbord of scenarios to keep a brand churning along? Hell, if you ask me, that would be downright heroic.  

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