Marvel's The Defenders marks the end of phase one for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Netflix shows. In this television equivalent to The Avengers, all of the characters from Marvel's Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist come to a head in what was promised to be a team up of epic proportions. And today... we rank them.
This list is of my own opinions. I have based this list on a very dynamic set of criteria including, but not limited to: how badass the character is, how powerful they are, how compelling the character is, how they would match up against one another, and how useful they were in driving the story forward. I stress this because there is always that one person in the comments who insists, "This list is the worst. I have constructed an algorithm that calculates the best characters from The Defenders, and this isn't even close! Mathematically speaking, the priest Matt does confession with is the best character!" Well, spare me your algorithm, you NERD! The only math I need to know is blind ninja + bulletproof man + unyielding woman + Loras Tyrell = THE DEFENDERS YO!!!
Rant aside, I would like to take this time to warn that there are a decent amount of SPOILERS ahead and I would add that anyone who has not completed the season may want to share this article (for later reference) and then go binge it 'til the sun comes up, then come back and tell me what you think.
15 Stick To Your Lane, Karen
Sorry Karen Page, *Randy Jackson voice* it's a no from me, dawg. The once prominently featured reporter from Daredevil took a seat in the way way back for this one. Her presence in The Defenders seemed almost obligatory to the whole idea of bringing the cast of all four shows together. While there are of course a lot of potential for this to be awesome, there is of course going to be some casualties (figuratively) to a team up like this. Unfortunately, Karen was one of them. She seemed to serve almost no purpose other than to further flush out and emphasize Matt Murdock's struggle of conscience and duality of life. While the advancement of character development is a very noble cause, in this case, there was just not enough screen time to put Karen to use the way she was in Daredevil.
14 An Underused Best Friend
Trish Walker makes her return to the screen after her debut in Jessica Jones. Trish actually has a very early appearance in The Defenders, where we see her about to get towed, until Jessica literally, lets her off the hook. It is not shortly after then when Trish begins to try and get Jessica to get into the superhero life, and that's what I like about her. Jessica is justifiably reluctant to embrace a life of grandiosity and excitement, but Trish's good heart for not only her friend and her city keep pushing Jessica to reach her full potential. This along with her attempt to spread the idea that the earthquakes in New York were not caused by seismic activity gives me mad respect for Trish. Trish ain't no sheep!
13 As Annoying As Usual
Foggy is back again after season 2 of Daredevil and well... it was okay? Foggy did not take as much of a backseat as Karen did in The Defenders. Foggy's character was very cleverly used as a unifying agent of the team to introduce Luke Cage into the fold. After getting Luke out of Seagate prison and then getting subsequently zinged with the most lethal roast since "What are those???" by Luke, he lays low for a while until the end of the season. This is where Foggy makes his biggest impact. Matt is about to go fight the Hand at Midland Circle, but is without his costume. And who else would swoop in and provide said costume for him? That's right, it's our boy, Fogward. Kidding aside, people just call him Foggy, and as Luke will never let him forget, he lets them.
12 An Underused Villain
To me, Alexandra was a bit of a let down. This is not to disparage her role in the show or Sigourney Weaver's performance by any means, but she was simply the victim of the format the Marvel Netflix shows employ. A common plot device in these shows are to introduce one villain, who appears to be the highest-up big bad for the season, only for them to be dethroned by an even bigger big bad about half way through the season. This is seen in Luke Cage with Cottonmouth then Diamondback, Iron Fist with Harold then Bakuto and The Defenders with Alexandra then being usurped as the leader of the Hand by Elektra. However, before she went, she did a great job at being a force to band our heroes together, so for that I thank her!
11 She Had So Much Potential
It physically pains me to have to put Claire Temple this low on the list because she is a massive component of the MCU's Netflix shows and is perhaps the biggest and most effective unifying factor for The Defenders. Claire appeared in every individual main characters' show, which we figured would establish her as an anchor for everyone to meet through. As it turns out, she definitely did some of the heavy lifting on bringing them together, especially Luke and Danny. However, because of her relatively low combat prowess and the stiffness of her competition, I regretfully and hesitantly place her here. The boldness it takes to consistently fling herself head first into the conflicts of these super powered people certainly shows her courage, and why she is one of the most stable and admirable characters in the show.
10 Past Her Prime?
Madame Gao's character has always intrigued me since her first appearance in Daredevil. The idea of having an elderly Chinese woman running things behind the scenes, was to me a very novel and compelling idea that I was excited to see progress. It would appear I couldn't have asked for more because here we are in the final culmination of phase one and there she is in the middle of the fray, throwing s*** with her chi. What a thug that Madame Gao is. She is a very powerful and resourceful woman, who knows when and how to play her cards and when to Kamehameha some dudes. And if you ask me, I think she survives the collapse of Midland Circle. She is the last finger of the hand to not have any closure. This means, we can only assume she is a loose end...
9 Always Trying To Do The Right Thing
What makes Misty Knight such a great character is that she continually and without hesitation puts her career and life at risk to do the right thing. The Defenders even gave us a taste of Misty going above the law to help Luke and the gang defeat the Hand. Her own goodness and her ability to trust the goodness of others, make her a character we all wish we had the courage to be. Like seriously, the sheer guts it takes to intervene in a sword fight between two ninjas is crazy, especially when you consider that she was unarmed. GET IT? UN. ARMED. I'm the next Eminem. Write my name down. This is not the last we'll see of Detective Knight. If the end scene with Colleen and the comics are anything to go off of, she'll be back and she'll be heavily ARMED... I'll see myself out.
8 A Worthy Fighter
Stick is placed where he is primarily based on his fighting skills and his uncontested badass status. He is not the person we wish we could be, but instead represents the cold, unfeeling, Machiavellian side of humanity. However, Stick is an absolutely bonkers character when it comes to sheer power. I mean, the dude is blind and can body anyone that comes near him. Not to mention this man's discipline. I mean c'mon! My boy Stick hates the Hand so much he chopped his own hand off! He didn't even wince! I once wept when I accidentally stabbed myself with a pencil in class. Meanwhile this dude lops his damn hand off like it was a hang nail or something. See what I mean? A bonafide badass that Stick is. A stone cold G.
7 A Strong Contender
Bakuto. I cannot say this man's name without thinking of how close it is to the Pokémon, Kabuto. Well now that I've burdened you all with this new idiosyncrasy, I can get to my reasoning. Bakuto is the most adept at fighting out of all of the Hand, which puts him right here at number 7, aka home of the MVP of the losing side. Despite his skills with a blade, his centuries of acquired knowledge and martial art skills, he was not enough to fulfill the Hand's mission. Without control of the Black Sky, the Hand was kind of low on sheer brute force, so Bakuto had to do a lot of that on his own. Now no matter how strong he is, there's no way he's going to take down every single Defender alone. So therein was the demise of Bakuto... he was on a team of noobs.
6 For Someone With No Powers, She's Pretty Strong
Colleen Wing earns her spot on this list by being the most ass kickingest non-powered character in the series. She holds her own even when fighting among individuals who are larger than life. While she did not have a whole lot to contribute to the plot, when she did, it was explosive. I mean really... she stole a bag full of C4 from a crowded police station. You have to either be psychotic or so confident in your ninja skills to not get you caught to do that. If that left any doubt, we must also consider how she, the student, became the master. In the final episode, Colleen faces off against her former sensei, Bakuto, and defeats him, thus effectively solidifying her as stronger than the strongest finger of the Hand.
5 A Double Threat
Jessica Jones proves herself a force to reckoned with in The Defenders. The series shows that Jessica is perhaps the biggest double threat on the team because she gets it done not only by fighting, but by sleuthing. The richness of her character draws from the fact that she struggles with her hero identity in a unique way not many others do. Danny embraces his hero role. Matt feels guilty about enjoying the vigilante life, but still goes all out when required. Luke refuses to even consider himself a hero, but will do what he has to to see the right thing through. Jessica, on the other hand, is reluctant to accept her role as hero and wants nothing more than to lead a life of normality after the traumatizing events of her stand alone show and the sour taste of superpowers Kilgrave left in her mouth.
4 A Regular Captain America
The man with bulletproof skin has a lot going for him and has quite the claim to a top spot on this list. Yes, Luke's skin cannot be pierced and he can bench press an SUV, but what really puts his character over the top is his impeccable moral compass. Luke is the irrepressible force of good that we expect from the typical hero archetype. His method of going about things is simple: if they're innocent they do not get hurt. The cost of one innocent life is too high a price to pay to stop injustice. End of story, no ifs, ands or buts. I would say Luke is like the Captain America of the group, not necessarily because he calls the shots, but because he knows when to take a step back and critically access whether how they are going about their business is the most ethical way.
3 He Deserves More Respect
YEAH. I LIKE IRON FIST. DO NOT @ ME. The internet has seemingly lost all sense of sympathy because there's been a fair amount of hate for Danny Rand. It seems everyone disregards that he saw his mother thrown from a plane at ten years old and berates him for being a spoiled brat. Heads up everyone... he watched his parents die and then was isolated from his home for 15 years. It took a toll and understandably stunted his emotional growth. Despite his justified character flaws, Danny's character develops well in season one of The Defenders and he kicks ass. He fought a whole bunch of suits with nunchucks alone for the most part and he's the immortal Iron Fist for Pete's sake. It's about time Danny starts getting his due respect out here. If it starts with just me then so be it. I love you, Iron Fist. <3
2 The Original Netflix Hero
Who else could be such a shoe-in for a top spot in this list? Matt Murdock, better known as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen is the most complex and heavily delineated character in the entire Netflix MCU. It would be hard not to be, as this is his third season starring as Daredevil after two seasons of his stand alone series and now season one of The Defenders. Matt struggles with balancing his life as Daredevil and his Catholic faith. As much as he wishes he didn't love being Hell's Kitchen's vigilante, he loves every minute of it. The Defenders pulls Matt in every possible direction as he grapples with the resurrection of the love of his life, Elektra Natchios, the return of his ornery master, Stick, his strong desire to leave the hero life behind and his even stronger desire to live it.
1 A Woman Just Trying To Get By
To me, there was no one more deserving of this spot. Elektra absolutely styles on the entire Defenders gang when she fights them all at once. There is no question as to who is the most proficient in combat and the overall most powerful person on the show. Were it not for her one weakness, (Matt) no combined force could stop her. Though we don't get much time to unpackage, analyze, or sympathize with Elektra's new Black Sky personality, she sure does make up for it by being insanely bad ass (killing the woman who resurrected her), (wo)man handling her opponents, but by also getting one last glimpse of her as human just as Midland Circle topples onto her and Matt in the finale. Elektra/Black Sky is a perfect example of the tortured anti-hero, and that (along with being basically undefeated), is enough to put her at number one.