When Marvel Studios and Netflix first announced their plan to release four new, live-action series featuring “street-level” superheroes from Marvel’s universe that would eventually lead into a team-up series, the notion seemed more than ambitious — but if we’ve learned anything by now, it’s that Marvel has a knack for turning unlikely (and some might say impossible) properties into bona fide blockbusters.
And now here we are, with The Defenders premiering August 18, 2017, on Netflix.
The eight-episode miniseries brings together the four titular heroes of Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) for an adventure that promises to not only pit them against a common foe, but also to merge their respective series into a more clearly defined part of Marvel’s cinematic universe set in and around New York City.
The Defenders also brings back much of the supporting cast from the four series, as well as showrunner Marco Ramirez, who served as showrunner for the second season of Daredevil. Sigourney Weaver will play the series’ mysterious villain, known only as “Alexandra.”
Here’s everything else we know about The Defenders so far.
Elevator action and a secret code
In early April 2017, Netflix released a short teaser for The Defenders with all four featured characters interacting in an elevator, as seen through a security camera. Along with featuring the first footage of the group together, the video also held a few secrets.
After Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is seen dismantling the camera, the timestamp on the footage stops at “08:18:20:17” — a number that was quickly confirmed to be the show’s release date (o8/18/2017).
The teaser also included an indirect clue to finding the homepage of the fictional New York City newspaper The New York Bulletin, which appears to chronicle some of the key events that unfolded during the four characters’ solo series.
Along with the quartet of solo series stars returning for The Defenders, many of the supporting characters — both heroes and villains — have also been confirmed for roles in the crossover adventure. Netflix revealed several of the miniseries’ returning characters via the official Twitter account for The Defenders in late 2016.
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) November 1, 2016
Among the confirmed cast members reprising roles will be Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Scott Glenn as Stick (Daredevil’s mysterious mentor), Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse (Jessica Jones’ neighbor), Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker, Elodie Yung as Elektra, and Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing.
Also returning for the miniseries is Defenders glue Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple — the only character to appear in all four series.
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) November 2, 2016
The big bad
What threat could be so deadly that it requires the attention of not one but four of Marvel’s heroes? The answer takes the form of one of sci-fi’s most iconic heroes: Sigourney Weaver.
Weaver’s Defenders role was announced during the Marvel Television panel at New York Comic-Con in October 2016. After Marvel TV’s executive vice president, Jeph Loeb, welcomed each of the four stars of the series to the stage, he then surprised the crowd by introducing Weaver.
“We’ve not told you who the villain of The Defenders is,” said Loeb. “And the reason for that is because we needed to find somebody that could take on all these guys. She doesn’t require any introduction anywhere she goes in the world. She’ll be joining The Defenders cast. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce Miss Sigourney Weaver.”
In January 2017, Entertainment Weekly released the first official image of Weaver from the series, and identified her character’s name as “Alexandra.”
It’s still unknown exactly what sort of character the Aliens franchise star will play in The Defenders, but she’s expected to have ties to the mysterious organization known as The Hand that has tormented many of the individual series’ heroes both directly and indirectly in their own shows.
Behind the lens
Along with all of the familiar faces in front of the camera, The Defenders also brings back director S.J. Clarkson behind the camera.
The director of the first two, critically acclaimed episodes of Jessica Jones (pictured), Clarkson will serve a similar role on The Defenders, helming the first two episodes of the eight-episode series. The announcement regarding her attachment to the series was made in November 2016 by Netflix and Marvel.
“S.J.’s take on the material is outstanding,” said Jeph Loeb, Marvel’s head of television, in an official statement. “We loved her work on Marvel’s Jessica Jones and couldn’t think of a more talented and accomplished person to helm the first two episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders.”
Defenders through history
The team known as The Defenders made its Marvel Comics debut in a 1971 issue of the Marvel Feature series, and was initially conceived as a group of otherwise independent characters united by Doctor Strange to combat magical threats beyond the abilities of more conventional teams. The rotating roster for the team typically consisted of Doctor Strange, Hulk, and various other characters — frequently including Namor (the Sub-Mariner), Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Hellcat, Beast (formerly of the X-Men), and Luke Cage, among other notable heroes from the Marvel Comics universe.
The team was disbanded and reformed multiple times over the years, and for a variety of purposes. Never a truly A-list team, The Defenders will receive an-all new comic series later this year featuring the team from the Netflix series. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez will team up for Marvel’s The Defenders series comics, which will mirror the live-action show with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist as its core members.
The Defenders miniseries premieres August 18, 2017, on Netflix.