Marvel Television came out swinging on the second full day of Comic Con 2017. Celebrating this moment as the culmination of many years of planning and dreaming, they brought the accumulated power of their large talent pool and the first early footage from their long-hyped projects. Yes, before this 90-minute panel was finished, they showed not only the first look at footage from their upcoming show The Punisher, but also the entirety of the first episode of their group-assembling mega opus, The Defenders.
On this day Netflix has also released a second trailer for the Marvel series The Defenders. The news-packed panel began with Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb. He spoke in detail about the numerous people it took to bring the dream of Marvel shows on Netflix to life. While explaining the thorough background, the first of many surprises was unveiled as Jon Bernthal took the stage unannounced and joined Loeb at the podium. Bernthal made reference to how important The Punisher is too many who serve in law enforcement or the armed forces and calmly stated, “We’re going to do our best to get this right.” Together, the two introduced the first look at footage from their in-the-works series, The Punisher. The clip put together several small scenes featuring Bernthal’s Frank Castle literally assassinating a bevy of criminals, all likely tied to the criminal organizations explained in Daredevil season two. Bernthal’s performance exhibits the same methodical precision as when we last saw him attempting the character, even whispering his mantra, “One batch, two batch, penny and dime” before mowing over a couple of bikers with a truck.
After that, Loeb introduced the extended (and nearly complete) cast of the Defenders: Charlie Cox (who plays Matt Murdoch/Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Finn Jones (Danny Rand/Iron Fist), Mike Coulter (Luke Cage), Sigourney Weaver (Alexandra), Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing), Elodie Yung (Elektra) and Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page) all took the stage for the panel interview to a massive cheer from the audience.
During the panel, after recounting how Daredevil will return for a third season, Jessica Jones will return for a second season and Luke Cage will return for a second season, Loeb broke the news to all in attendance that Netflix has green-lit Iron Fist for a second season. Loeb indicated that literally no one present was aware of this news (including Iron Fist star Finn Jones). Jones stood up and celebrated raising his arms to the air. The panel was kept to a brief set of questions from the talent on hand. Henwick explained of Colleen Wing how she still wasn’t sure to make of all she’d learned of Danny Rand and the Hand, the organization together they’re hunting down. When asked of the mysterious Alexandra’s presence in the show, Weaver pointed out that the relationship between her and Yung’s Elektra was one of the most significant relationships as an actress she had on or off screen. Cox reminisced about how he found out about The Defenders in the first place. He explained, “I do remember signing a contract and there being a vague section about The Defenders,” he mused on what was said of that at the time, “Yeah, we’ll get to that.” Colter offered that it was the collective’s interactions that made the project exciting for him, “Once we start to bounce different ideas off each other that’s what I love about the show most.”
Loeb and the cast members then surprised fans by screening the entire first episode of The Defenders right then and there. They played it as if they were going to continue asking questions of the talent per normal panel standards, but instead Cox, Colter and the cast insisted that instead of proceed they should give the fans something special. The lights were dimmed and the first episode was played without interruption. Without going into serious spoilers, the group is in different places and points in their lives as the episode begins. Iron Fist and Wing are hunting the hand, Cage is working towards getting out of prison, Cox is working diligently as a pro bono lawyer and Jessica Jones is doing what she does absolutely best, drinking herself into a ravenously drunken stupor nightly. Much of the first episode centers around catching up with where each character is in their world and starts to pull them back towards New York City and Hell’s Kitchen. Weaver’s Alexandra is explored and revealed but nearly all of her motives are by this point a mystery. She does get the very best line in the episode indicating to someone important, “It’s just a city, you’ll get used to watching them fall.” Also present as the stage is set for bringing the team together are the characters Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville). Special care is rendered in the first episode to couch each major character in the style and feel that their respective series were done, so this first episode almost feels like a merging point of template and tone.
Shortly after the news broke that the first episode had been screened, Netflix released a second trailer for The Defenders on YouTube. The second trailer reveals relatively little about the specific plot of the show, but does confirm that Elektra (who died back in Daredevil Season 2) will be brought back to life and used by Sigourney Weaver’s character Alexandra and the antagonistic group The Hand.
Fans eager to see the first episode of The Defenders will have to wait until its fully released on Netflix on August 18th.
Additional reporting by Raymond Flotat. All photos by Raymond Flotat.