The Defenders has a trailer and is quickly approaching our screens. It shows what happens when the four leading heroes of Marvel’s Netflix shows- Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist- come together to defend New York City. Though they’ve never called themselves the Defenders in the comics, the four heroes have teamed up and come to blows lots of times. Here’s a primer on the relationships between the various Netflix Defenders.
Matt and Jessica
Jessica Jones first met Matt Murdoch when she was being held for questioning. The NYPD was sweating her for her involvement in the killing of a woman who ended up being a secret girlfriend of Captain America. Jessica had been hired to track the woman down, and ended up framed for her murder. Matt got Jessica out, and she immediately developed an enormous crush on him.
It was a while before Jessica definitively knew that Matt was Daredevil, but when he was accused by a New York tabloid of being the hero of Hell’s Kitchen, he was mobbed with press (and the occasional vengeful villain) and despite his ability to protect himself, he needed to keep up appearances. He hired a string of bodyguards, including Jessica, to stand by his door menacingly. Matt has been a longtime friend to Jessica, and although she’s mostly gotten over her crush on him, the two spend a lot of time together.
Matt and Luke
As two superheroes heavily connected to neighborhoods in Manhattan, Matt Murdock and Luke Cage are old friends and colleagues. They’ve often teamed up, even before such things were common in the Marvel universe. Though they have a deep and abiding trust for one another, they argue all the time. Luke is often written to be rather bullheaded and there are few Marvel characters more stubborn than Matt Murdock.
In one memorable story, Daredevil declared himself the “Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen,” deposing Wilson Fisk and taking full control of organized crime in his neighborhood (and driving it out). Luke was scandalized by this, and brought his criticism straight to Matt’s face. Matt turned it around, and encouraged Luke to become the “Kingpin of Harlem,” trying to start an alliance of crime fighters driving crime over the border and into New Jersey, where it belongs. Luke has often acted a consience when Danny has taken things too far.
Matt and Danny
Similarly, Matt and Danny are old friends, and they have a lot of trust. Also similarly, Danny and Matt frequently disagree and occasionally come to blows. Even though the two of them have similar talents and fight similar villains, Matt has never been as close with Danny as he has with Luke or even Jessica. Still, when someone needs to call Matt out, Danny often steps up to the role.
The most significant interaction these two ever had actually occurred when Matt was in jail. A long series of circumstances caused Matt to be put in Ryker’s Prison alongside numerous villains he put there, including Kingpin, Bullseye and the Punisher. Everyone was sure that Matt was Daredevil. When Matt escaped, he found that Daredevil was somehow still running around- Danny had taken the costume and identity for himself. No one had really asked Danny, he thought that it would just be a good way to help Matt. Most impressively, Danny wore the Daredevil mask- which doesn’t have eye-holes- to make the impersonation more convincing. He spent months fighting crime without being able to see or other super senses!
Jessica and Luke
As people may remember from the Jessica Jones series, Luke and Jessica have a tendency to argue a lot and then have a lot of sex. That’s also true in the comics. Luke and Jessica first met early in her superhero career, and the two crossed paths again and again. Matt hired them to act as his bodyguards when they weren’t on the best of terms, and they were forced to spend their days together professionally, which wasn’t comfortable for either of them. Jessica eventually realized that she was pregnant with Luke’s baby, and they decided to try and make things work.
More than almost any other superhero couples of the last twenty years, Luke and Jessica have stuck together. After the birth of their baby girl (who they named Danielle after Iron Fist), the two of them got married (by Stan Lee!) in front of most of the Avengers. Though they’ve had their share of drama and bickering, they are the true comic book power couple.
Jessica and Danny
Detractors of Danny Rand might be pleased to hear that Jessica and Danny really don’t get along, and that it’s mostly Danny’s fault. Comic fans might be surprised to learn this, because comic book Danny is rather affable and it’s usually Jessica who’s got the bad ‘tude. But Danny and Jess had their first conversation while Luke was bleeding internally, and tensions were high. Danny told the pregnant Jess that she was unwelcome, and that she was just some girl they knew. Ouch.
Since then things have gotten a little bit better, but not much. While Jess did agree to name her beloved daughter (and the future Captain America) after Danny, she seems him as a bad influence on Luke. She acknowledges that the two have an important friendship, but when Danny rolls around, it usually means trouble for Luke.
Luke and Danny
What is there to say about Power Man and Iron Fist that hasn’t been said a million times elsewhere? When the Marvel editors noticed that their Blaxsploitation and Kung Fu comics weren’t selling all that well, they decided to fold the two of them together and see if that improved things. It did, and the dynamics of the bulletproof black man and the mystical kung fu dumb blonde man ended up being exactly what comics fans wanted. Danny and Luke are one of the most famous and beloved duos in comics, and one of the most enduring.
It’s not yet known how much the Defenders series will take cues from specific comics, but looking at their history, you can start to see the dynamics of these characters come together. With such strong personalities, it’s inevitable we will see some tension, but hopefully by the end of the show’s run, we will see the seeds planted of some of the greatest duos in comic book history.
Tags: Defenders, Netflix, Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, Iron Fist