First things first: The Defenders will never be what you'd expect from a classic superhero story. After all, each member of this fabulous band of weirdos forged their own way long before joining the club.
In the series pilot, aired in its entirety during Comic-Con 2017, each of The Defenders is introduced with a continuation of their backstories. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is seen just getting out of jail after becoming the King of Harlem, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is trying to avoid her newfound fame after exposing Kilgrave, Iron Fist (Finn Jones) and Colleen (Jessica Henwick) are still haunted by their past and on the search for information, and Daredevil (Charlie Cox) is attempting to leave his superhero identity in the past in favor of a more normal existence.
These distinctive stories are tied together by one person: a mysterious new character named Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) who rains hell on the city of New York after being told she has months (if not weeks) to live. At the end of the first episode, her motivation is not entirely clear, but she does have the resources and power to create an earthquake so strong that NYC is left in near ruins. She also has perplexing power over Elektra (Elodie Yung), who is very much alive. Spoiler!
Alexandra, it seems, was the missing puzzle piece — the silly puddy series writers Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie used to glue everyone together, and the catalyst for the group now known as The Defenders.
Still, it's not easy to blend the lives of four heroes from pre-existing series. Ramirez made this much crystal clear.
"The Defenders was the most challenging writing assignment of my life," he divulged during the panel. "These heroes are independent, so the big challenge is honoring each character. The Defenders is its own story, it's self-contained."
Unlike many shows featuring superhero ensembles, Ramirez said there'd be no headquarters, no suits, and no sense of "togetherness." While the heroes unify to save their own friends and families, they maintain their own identities and stories along the way.
"They're grounded. They exist in the back allies," he said. "They're fighting in really shitty bars."
In other words, this is not your mom's superhero show.
The Defenders hits Netflix on August 18.