All four of The Defenders have seen some crap. In fact, they all continue to get themselves into seriously messed up situations time and time again, and probably need a good therapy session. Yet, without their past traumatic experiences, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist probably wouldn’t have discovered each other and teamed up to take down the Hand. So, should we be glad that they experienced such trauma? Of course not; that’s messed up. Nobody should have to deal with that. But, that’s exactly what happened, and now they’re stuck dealing with even more crap because the NYPD are way out of their depth. Fantastic.
Superhero team-ups are usually brought together by sharing ideologies, but Netflix’s band of misfits are brought together by their shared trauma, making for some interesting television.
So, on top what these guys deal with in their eight-episode Netflix superhero extravaganza, here’s how the Defenders’ dreadful lives link them to one another, and why that’s so important to the series.
Warning: Here’s the part where I let you know that there’s spoilers littered around this article, so be careful out there.
Jessica Jones, Luke Cage And How Kilgrave Ruined Everyone’s Lives
Possibly the grumpiest person in New York (and being at a level of not-giving-a-shit that I aspire to reach) is Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones, who unintentionally lays down the foundations for the formation of The Defenders in her solo series by getting together with the Power Man himself, Luke Cage (Mike Colter). This all happens when Luke, a private investigator, starts snooping under the guise of a ‘paranoid husband’, of course. However, things between the two get a little rocky when it turns out Jessica killed Luke’s wife while she was under Kilgrave’s (David Tenant) mind control. Oopsie!
Because of Kilgrave’s interference, Jessica found a connection with Luke, making up half of the Defenders by accident. Without any of the events involving Kilgrave, the two wouldn’t know each other as well as they do by the time The Defenders form, and the grouping may not have worked as successfully as it did; it’s possible Jessica wouldn’t have joined them at all if she didn’t already know Luke.
However, to an extent, Jessica and Luke have helped each other move on from their past trauma. With Luke’s help, Jessica was able to find closure on the Kilgrave situation, and by getting to know Jessica, Luke moved another step towards recovering from his wife’s death. Having experienced such major events with each other lays the foundations for The Defenders.
Luke Cage and Iron Fist: Potentially New York’s Cutest Super Couple?
There’s a very big chance that Luke Cage and Iron Fist a.k.a. rich boy Danny Rand (Finn Jones) will have their friendship explored further in future Marvel shows. There’s a lot of conversation about how their relationship in the comics is based upon the ‘opposites attract’ dynamic, with Danny coming from a privileged background and Luke coming from one of hardship. However, these two have one major thing in common – aside from the fact they both have superpowers. In the past, both heroes had to deal with seeing their loved ones die in traumatic ways, and then had to cope with their grief surrounding that.
So, what on earth does this have to do with the Defenders becoming a stronger team? Well, Luke will likely help Danny with any unresolved stress from the plane crash he survived, and vice versa. Mix that mutual care and understanding with experiencing new things together (i.e. saving New York) and you’ve got yourself the potential for another strong bond within The Defenders and the perfect set-up for a Heroes for Hire series.
Daredevil And Elektra: How Talking About Things Can Actually Be Very Beneficial
So, the woman you loved died whilst you were in combat together against a group of ninjas and now you feel responsible for it. Firstly, Matt Murdock, I suggest you have a chat with Luke Cage about that because, as a widow, he can probably empathize with your loss. Secondly, you should probably chat to the other Defenders about how that same woman somehow got resurrected. That information might be of some importance to your mission against The Hand – y’know, the organization she’s fighting for?
Okay, okay, so I’m not going to sit here and criticise Daredevil for not talking about something traumatic that happened to him, because watching a loved one die is not a subject you can just engage in casual conversation. Criticizing isn’t the answer to this dilemma, but mentioning Elektra to the team could be both practically and emotionally beneficial for him – making that whole saving New York from devastation thing just that tad more efficient.
The main point here is that without the team’s traumatic past, you wouldn’t get Netflix’s The Defenders. Rather than forming a team due to their lessons learned, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers, the Defenders’ past traumas bound them together in a way these heroes simply couldn’t avoid. In some cases, we’ve seen members of the team already help each other through trauma, and there’s potential for other members to work on this further. In one particular case, someone wasn’t able to move past their personal trauma, and it got the better of them.
Jessica, Matt, Luke and Danny’s experiences are presented in supernatural ways in order to depict the action-packed, super-powered nature of The Defenders. But if we strip back these stories and look at them more realistically, Jessica came out of an abusive relationship and now drinks profusely, Matt saw his girlfriend get murdered and is trying to get on with his career as a lawyer, Luke had to discover the cover-up surrounding his wife’s murder and Danny saw his parents die.
Are these examples overly specific? Yes, but aspects of these examples are more general, and can then be understood by the audience at home. This is where the strength of The Defenders (and arguably any superhero storyline) lies. They’re all just people trying to get on with their lives. Why not do so with a little help from those around you?