After D23 and San Diego Comic Con, The Marvel hype is in full swing with the momentum building towards the life changing Infinity War set to release next year. Aside from the movie side of the cinematic universe, in less than a month we’re getting to see the culmination of 5 seasons across 4 characters finally team up in The Defenders. While ranking the movies in the universe seems like somewhat of an impossibility due to the number of them, attempting to rank the individual hero’s shows is a little easier, although obviously, it could cause controversy among people as everyone’s got a preference and entitled to an opinion. Now with that disclaimer and warning out, I’ve attempted to order how I believe the Defenders solo shows stack up against each other and rank them in preference of least favourite to best.
Slightly controversial here, but before the ranking starts, I’d like to address DareDevil Season 2. I’ve opted to split this season up into 2 parts. So rather than trying to rank 5 shows (DD1, DD2, JJ, LC & IF), I’m going to rank it as 6 shows (DD1, DD2.1, DD2.2, JJ, LC & IF), So DareDevil season 2 for me will be split into 1 half containing the Punisher storyline, and the other half containing the Elektra and Hand storyline. I’ve done this because personally I found Elektra and The Hand part of season 2 terrible, It really soured me on DareDevil, and based on this part of the season it’d rank as my least favourite show of them all, but the Frank Castle / Punisher story arc was legitimately one of the best parts of all the shows so far, and to rank season 2 rock bottom would make it assume I disliked that part too, which I really didn’t, I loved it. So that out of the way, here we go:
6th: Daredevil Season 2 – Elektra & The Hand Half
This is awkward given how much of the season and how much future show Iron Fist are based and influenced on the story-line about The Hand. But I really found this ark of Daredevil season 2 dire. Elektra as a character just really got on my nerves and when the episodes changed from the Frank Castle ark to Elektra it really ruined the episodes for me. I’ll not go into much about the Castle ark here as it’s referenced further down this post to the upper end of quality Marvel Netflix TV. Elektra’s appearance and mainly interference fucked up the court case The People vs Frank Castle, and fractured the friendship and relationship between Murdoch, Karen and Nelson. Her consistent neediness of Murdoch just wound me up, more so as the impact it had on Frank Castle’s ark. And the ninja’s and such just frustrated me. The Hand feature in Iron Fist, but they seem to be more appropriate in that show, than Daredevil in which season one felt very gritty and about criminal gang activity and trying to save New York from corruption rather than ninjas and the possibility of resurrection. The Castle ark was a story of revenge and again fit the more gritty style from season one, Elektra and her fucking insistence of getting Murdoch to aid her ruined some of the absolutely incredible stuff that Murdoch and Castle had going on in previous episodes. Pretty disappointed in knowing Elektra is looking to be a large plot of The Defenders.
5th: Iron Fist
Iron Fist is certainly not as bad as I was led to believe. Reviews and impressions of the show left me a little disappointed and I didn’t actually watch the show until mid July. That’s pretty unheard of in our house to delay watching a Marvel thing (other than Agents of Shield, but don’t get me started with that). As mentioned in my scathing thoughts of Elektra and The Hand above, that part of Daredevil was just not for me, certainly not in Daredevil anyway, but despite my dislike for that story ark, I actually had no problem with The Hand in Iron Fist whatsoever as it seemed to make more sense given the background of Danny Rand and his ascension to becoming the Iron Fist. The secrecy surrounding Harold Meachum hiding only known to be alive initially by his son Ward. The initial episodes with Rand returning to New York and his seemingly worthless attempts at convincing Ward and Joy Meachum that he is in fact the Danny Rand 51% share holder of Rand Enterprises were really entertaining and you felt badly for Danny and his carefree way of life. The episode in the hospital where he gets a breakthrough and the doctor believes he is in fact Danny Rand, only for Rand to then go on and unbelievable spiel about a secret area that no one other than him and monks can see, and the doctors reaction of “okay he is nuts” was a punch to the gut not only for Danny on screen, but for us watching too. I recall speaking to my wife as this was happening like “Just when he starts getting believers, he opens his mouth about supposed none existent places”.
And the cage fighting that Colleen takes part in to generate income were some excellent scenes. It’s not as action packed as some of the other shows leading to the Defenders, but it’s still no where near as bad as initially thought. The traditional hallway scene getting that little upgrade to feature a brawl in a lift was also excellent.
4th: Luke Cage
Luke Cage, like season 2 of Daredevil is a season of 2 halves. The first half of Luke Cage and the tension between himself and the absolutely sensation Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes is incredible. The passing of Cage’s good friend Pops which is inadvertently caused by Cottonmouth ordering a shoot-up of his shop sparked an incredible rivalry between Cage and Cottonmouth. Both clever guys that don’t lay a finger on each other until the rivalry really escalates when Cage raids a safe house where Cottonmouth kept his money hidden only for Cottonmouth to retaliate blowing up Cages home above a shop is genuinely gripping TV that we could not stop watching. We also got introduced to another incredible character in Shades. Looking back and thinking back Luke Cage had probably some of the best characters within the Defenders universe so far. The reason though that I feel I couldn’t place this higher (technically it would be 3rd from 5 rather than 4th from 6, but DD season ruined this), is that once Cottonmouth is accidentally killed by Mariah Dillard and the rise of Diamond back begins, well that’s where the show sours for me. Diamond back as a villain was no where near the level of Cottonmouth. Sure Diamond back was created to be a legitimate threat to Cage in terms of like for like strength, but it just seemed to change the pace and format of the show.
I did really enjoy the finale though in which everything winds up working against Cage, and while that’s a weird thing to say it made the finale more impactful. The killing of Candace resulting in Mariah walking away from everything free and taking over Cottonmouths club with Shades by her side, the fact that Cages proof of innocence is all lost and destroyed resulting in him being locked up only for Claire Temple to tell him “She knows a skilled lawyer who can help out”, and the mysterious ending of Diamondback potentially being approached by Dr Burstein more than likely resulting in making him more powerful. A very good show that in my opinion got weaker at the loss of Cottonmouth.
3rd: Jessica Jones
Again due to the split of Daredevil season 2, this show would have been 2nd in my list, and rightfully so. The main reason I enjoyed Jessica Jones more than most? Kilgrave.
Cottonmouth in Luke Cage was awesome, Fisk in Daredevil was awesome, but Kilgrave was absolutely evil, terrifying and genuinely struck me as the most intimidating and powerful enemy across all the Defender shows. From the opening episode where the parents of Hope report her change of character before he disappearance, learning that she’s under the influence of Kilgrave and the shockingly see Hope return to her parents only to kill them. Right from the off it’s got an addictive manner to it. It was also awesome as it introduced Luke Cage to the lineup before his own show actually aired. The season steps up a notch when Jones herself ‘moves’ in with Kilgrave in an attempt to prove his powers, which no one can quite grasp.
The final episodes learning how Kilgrave is how he is, and Jessica Jones seemingly falling to his power only to end the season on one of the most shocking but satisfying finales make this show a step above Luke Cage and Iron Fist for me.
2nd: Daredevil Season 1
Where it all began. Daredevil season 1 as a whole is the best of all the shows, but still finds itself in second place due to my stupid ranking system (breaking season 2 of Daredevil into 2). What makes Daredevil my favourite show so far are the cast of characters that make the season. While Kilgrave will go down in my opinion as the most threatening villain, in terms of power, Wilson Fisk is the guy. As well as an incredible villain here, Matt Murdoch’s business partner and friend Foggy Nelson is a highlight as the character that lightens the mood, but he’s also integral at evolving the Daredevils priorities and character. Once Nelson finds the injured and battered Murdoch, and Murdoch refuses to stop being the vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen, Nelson leaves the firm. The framing of Karen Page and protecting her from assassination is a great catalyst to bring the cast together and Ben Urich working at The New York Bulletin is one of the good guys you want to see no harm come to.
Plus the fact that season 1 of Daredevil was very much about corruption and alliances between gangs in the wake of the incident from Avengers one in New York. Everyone is trying to make money off the event from construction and property. It’s definitely as was intended, more grounded and down to the city level of smaller (while still large) crimes and bad guys, as opposed to aliens falling through the sky.
Murdoch being a lawyer by day taking on these criminals, and then fronting as the Devil from Hell’s Kitchen at night, again taking on these criminals is awesome. The differences in character on display by Wilson Fisk when he’s around Vanessa the lady he desires to the angry Wilson Fisk who beheads a Russian with the door of his car and send the head to the brother of the recently decapitated. Just an incredibly vicious and powerful villain.
Little did we know 2 years ago that the real threat to the majority of all the Defenders would be Madame Gow.
1st: Daredevil Season 2 – Frank Castle AKA The Punisher Half
Yes this silly to rank it this way, but so be it. The Frank Castle portions of Daredevil season 2 were the finest from all the shows bringing the Defenders together so far. The episode with Daredevil tied up on the roof which was purely Punisher explaining his motives was one of the best episodes of all the shows so far. The relationship that Castle builds with Karen Page and the trust they build between each other to the point where Karen feels compassion and sympathy for Frank is superb. The scenes in prison he steals. The flash backs to the tragic events that lead him on a revenge mission really make you sympathise with him.
Also seeing Fisk try to manipulate him in prison is quite awesome viewing. What a team of destruction. Obviously many people agreed with my thoughts as The Punisher was given the green light for it’s own Marvel / Netflix show. Sadly not dubbed as a Defender so won’t feature or have anything to do with the Defenders which is out next week. But still awesome nonetheless.
I have to admit at the time of writing this up, I’d only recently watched Iron Fist, while the rest of the shows were watched last year or around the time of their initial release, so I’ve been a bit hazy on remembering what exactly happened per show, hence my Jessica Jones part being considerably shorter than others despite having it place to highly. The main thing I remember is that I was addicted to it plowing the final 7 hours of the show in one sitting. What do you think? What would you order them as, and would you agree about Punisher scenes being a step above Elktra scenes in season 2?