When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and to a lesser extent, super-hero movies in general), I make it my mission to watch as much as possible. In the MCU, the only thing I’ve started and not finished so far is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (I think I’m near the end of season two, but I don’t care enough to figure it out).
Marvel’s films and television (with S.H.I.E.L.D. being the exception), have high production values and for the most part, some quality storytelling. Of course, some of the films can feel a bit same old, same old at times, but they’re definitely, as a whole, progressing. Marvel is doing the best they can with the IP’s they have left, and as such, it’s (almost) always something I want to see.
The Netflix shows, if you haven’t been watching them, are especially good. The most recently, Luke Cage, premiered on the 30th. I spent my day watching it, and by 2am on the 1st, I had my review written up. You can read it here, if you’re so inclined.
Anyway, the next Netflix series due to be released is Iron Fist, which, as of today, we know will premiere on the 17th March next year.
After that, at some point we’ll be getting the Avengers-style team-up, The Defenders, along with another series of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher and probably Luke Cage.
As I said, I’m very much looking forward to all of this. Not only am I a MCU fan, my favourite television recently has been the Netflix productions (not just Marvel, but House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, etc.).
But there is something that bothers me, being the fussy nerd that I am, and that’s the title.
Now, this isn’t just because traditionally in the comic books, these characters aren’t the Defenders* (if anything, they’re the New Avengers, minus a couple of members, but whatever). In the comic books, the original Defenders line-up looked something like this:
Doctor Strange, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and the Sub-Mariner. They would often be joined by various other assorted characters across the years.
It was a powerful and pretty bad-ass line-up, who, when they stopped fighting among themselves were perhaps one of the most powerful teams in the Marvel Universe (if not THE most powerful).
Of course, the problem here is that the Silver Surfer and (probably) Namor the Submariner were part of the many film distribution rights deals that Marvel made in the nineties to get some dollar. The Silver Surfer and Namor (again, probably; I can’t think off the top of my head but it may be Universeal) are, in movie-form, owned by Fox, and thus are untouchable for Marvel unless they buy back The Fantastic Four property.
So the name’s available. Why not use it? Right?
Because there is a much better name for Netflix’s ‘Defenders’ already on the table, and it actually makes sense in the context of the shows.
In the comics, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have long been best friends. Mike Colter (who plays Luke Cage) even acknowledged the fact in a recent interview on BBC Radio 2. They have also long operated the business ‘Heroes for Hire’. The name is fairly self-explanatory. As heroes, they would hire themselves out to people who needed their help.
This isn’t really a spoiler, but in the Luke Cage series, the character even has references to his comic-book businesses. It’s even in Method Man’s rap towards the end of the series.
Now the reason it frustrates me that they’re using The Defenders rather than The Heroes For Hire, is that even if Daredevil and Jessica Jones were never members of the Heroes for Hire in the comic books, BOTH OF THEM ARE LITERALLY HEROES FOR HIRE!
So far, out of the three Netflix shows, Luke Cage is the only lead character who hasn’t undergone heroics after being hired for his services! The original hero for hire, thus far, is the only hero who hasn’t been up for hire. What’s that about?
Across the series, Luke is continually told that if he were to start a business, people would definitely pay for his services. Now, were we to assume that at the start of the crossover series he and Iron Fist were to meet and start up that business, you’ve got your show right there, with a name that actually fits the characters.
But what about Jessica Jones and Daredevil?
Well, as I said, those two are the only characters who, so far, have actually been heroes for hire in the MCU/Netflix universe. Jessica Jones is a private investigator with super-powers. Tying her into Cage and Iron Fist’s business would be a piece of cake. They get hired for a case; either they need a P.I. and Luke calls on Jessica, or she’s ALSO been hired and they cross paths. It’s so simple to play this hero for hire angle that it’s annoying that it’s not what’s going down (I mean it might be, but I am of course speculating from the title).
Daredevil could come on in much the same way. Much of his own show see’s him donning his crimson costume AFTER he’s been hired to represent someone in court. Whatever it is that draws these heroes together could at some point hire Matt Murdock, and boom, you’ve hired another hero, Daredevil.
Four heroes, who have come together, after being hired. Heroes For Hire.
The only real reason they could be called the Defenders at this point is some weak-ass promotional material Marvel put out saying these guys and gal are the ‘Defenders of New York’. If people haven’t seen that; they might wonder why these characters are called The Defenders.
Call them Heroes For Hire, and people will get it. Know why? Because being ‘Heroes for Hire’ is what all these character fucking do.
I’ll leave you with that to mull over, and then just drop this trailer for a REAL Defender, Doctor Strange, right here, because how awesome is that jazzy Tron-esque soundtrack:
* Before anyone rants at me, I do acknowledge that some of these characters have been Defenders in the comics as well, but not as a team, all four of them together, and not in a way that makes as much sense as them being ‘Heroes for Hire’.