SDCC 2017: THE DEFENDERS Pilot Review

We were shown the first episode of Marvel’s team-up show in its entirety.

In The Defenders panel in Hall H this evening, Jeph Loeb surprised a packed audience by telling us, “We’re going to show you a clip of The Defenders, and the length of this clip just so happens to be the exact same length as the first episode of the show.”

So, yeah, we were treated to the pilot episode of Marvel’s The Defenders. The upshot: it’s pretty good! The team is kept separate throughout the hour, so it feels a bit like four different shows in one, but the pilot ends with a major inciting event that will clearly be the impetus to bring the heroes together in the next ep.

And, really, three of those four separate shows are very engaging. (The other one is Iron Fist, obviously. Danny doesn’t get much screentime in the pilot, but what we see of him is super tedious.) Every moment we spend with Jessica Jones is a joy all over again. She’s struggling with the aftermath of Kilgrave, which Trish wisely points out is a deeply typical example of Jessica taking a personal triumph and turning it into a tragedy. She’s still drinking hard, sniping at everyone in her presence and pretending not to love Malcolm – but she finds herself embroiled in a brand new case when a mom and daughter show up at her door looking for a missing dad.

The Luke Cage stuff is also really great. He walks out of prison in a very stylish and sexy manner, makes his way home, finds Claire and immediately consummates a long-delayed relationship in the most satisfying scene imaginable. We’re equally treated to scenes of Luke and Misty Knight bonding over their shared success in taking down Cottonmouth, and we see a group of neighborhood kids marveling over every sighting of the hero of Harlem. It’s really lovely, inspiring stuff, and Mike Colter is as wildly compelling as ever.

Daredevil’s scenes work like gangbusters, too. He opens the episode fighting corruption, doing pro bono work in court and standing up for those who can’t. He shares a wonderful couple of scenes with Karen Page, and we really feel ourselves rooting for them, and for him to allow himself this peaceful new life, even though we know he can’t.

And then there’s Iron Fist.

But way more importantly, there’s Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra. She owns this episode. Alexandra is outrageously wealthy and she’s also dying, a combined set of circumstances that have been the inspiration for some of the most interesting fictional villainy of all time. Every single second with Weaver is chilly and powerful. Her last scene is goosebumps-worthy. She’s incredible.

It will remain to be seen how the show works once the team gets together, but the first episode gave me hope. It looks great, the music’s cool, the action scenes are fun, and it clips along at a tidy pace. The panel ended with a new extended trailer, which you can check out below. The Defenders arrives August 18, when we can all decide for ourselves if this audacious team-up is going to make for good TV.

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