Who Should Lead The Defenders?

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With the release of Luke Cage, Netflix is one more series away from their Avengers style team up show/miniseries The Defenders. And they have established three heroes with a fourth to come early next year. The thing they haven’t established is which one will be in lead the team. That’s the reason four distinguished Pop-Break writers have decided to each make the case for why their favorite street level hero should get the job.

Daredevil (Laura Woogie Dengrove)

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When it comes to being a leader, especially in the Marvel television verse, no one resonates in my head better for the role than Daredevil.

Devouring each and every episode of his ever successful Netflix hit has not been so much of a choice as it has been an intense desire. Every one, better than the last, beautifully shows the tension and conflict Matt Murdock faces on a daily basis. However, these daily dilemmas do not make him weak, but in fact, make him stronger.

Some may argue, “He’s blind and has no real superpowers. How on earth would he be a better leader than say Jessica jones or Luke Cage who both have superpowers and attitude to boot?” The answer is simple; it is not the powers that make the man without fear. It’s his inner strength.

Matt Murdock may be blind, but he throws punches faster and harder than any of the goons out to get him. He believes in the good in anyone, even from an annoying ex who has a soft spot for sais and high-heeled boots. Frequently, he even talks with his enemies, not only to distract them, but to genuinely get an understanding of his foes and even to tries to reason with them. This speaks volumes for a hero of his magnitude, and shows someone who is destined for greatness and leadership.

His cunning, both physically and mentally, makes him the perfect candidate to lead The Defenders. In this, he shows that he not only possess the will power to lead such a powerful team, including the likes of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, but has the leadership quality that may disarm others into trusting him without the potential use of violence for answers.

And I’m not trying to throw jabs at Jones or Cage, since as everyone on the site knows I adored the Jessica Jones debut. They seem more like kick ass first, ask questions later type heroes. While there is a fair (and by fair I mean incredible) amount of violence used by the Devil, he tries to understand his villains before pummeling them into eternity, unlike a muscle man or follower. There is no other clear-cut choice than the Devil of Hells Kitchen. He may see “a world in fire” but all I see is a leader.

Jessica Jones (Angelo Gingerelli)

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When Netflix announced The Defenders series a few years ago, most casual fans would automatically assume the street-level superhero team would be led by Daredevil based on name recognition and popularity.  More dedicated comic book fans may have pointed to Luke Cage’s no-nonsense attitude or Iron Fist’s fighting ability as possible leaders, but almost nobody would have picked the less widely known Jessica Jones as a potential leader of the squad.  That all changed with the debut of her series last year. The show was a huge hit and Krystin Ritter’s tough, gritty, noir-influenced heroine immediately showed she had the skills and personality to lead The Defenders.

The Defenders are a street level team and need a leader that is in the streets to be effective and nobody is more in the streets than Jessica Jones.  Her private investigator day job, ability to hold her own in all manner of physical altercation, knowledge of NYC’s underworld, and near invincibility make her the perfect leader for a team of New York brawlers.  She also has the presence and personality to turn a team of guys that operate primarily as loners into a functioning unit, a job I’m not sure Matt Murdoch or Luke Cage is well suited for.

Outside of the MCU and in the “Real World” Jessica Jones was a huge hit with female viewers, to the point that I know several women (my wife included) that loved the series, but had no interest in the other Marvel Netflix shows.  Giving Jones a leadership position and a major role in The Defenders will automatically make the series more appealing to the female viewers that latched on to Jones in her original series and potentially make them fans of the other characters once they are exposed to them as an added bonus.

Luke Cage (DJ Chapman)

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While picking someone to lead the Defenders might seem like a difficult choice, there is one person who should stand above all the rest and be the clear choice to help New York through its time of crisis, Luke Cage! Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Marvel Netflix shows that have come out so far, they are great and I’ve loved every second watching, but I am in no way convinced that Daredevil or Jessica Jones are capable enough leaders to help the Defenders get anything done. Daredevil is going to spend a lot of time contemplating the difficult choices that only he thinks is difficult. Jessica Jones has made in very clear she can in no way lead, mostly for lack of want. While we have not seen Iron Fist in the Marvel Netflix universe, I am sure he will remain the kind of person who goes for an assistant type role. For my money, if I were going to be lead into battle to fight potentially hundreds of ninjas, bring me the man who is indestructible with no clear physical weaknesses to lead us to victory. While we have not seen any of Luke Cage’s leadership ability yet, I am pretty convinced that this scenario will play out fine:

Daredevil: What do we do there are too many of them?

Luke Cage: Keep throwing them through walls, I am sure because of the small scope of what The Hand is trying to do, once we have exhausted their resources they will go away.

This is not Thanos or Loki we are talking about. It is The Hand: a fringe organization in terms of the Marvel universe that barely warrants Spiderman’s attention, despite the fact that these events take place in New York. I am not saying that Luke Cage is an outstanding leader, but for a mission that is not going to involve a lot more than, “quick beat up the bad guys,” I have full confidence that Luke Cage can lead the Defenders to victory. Even if things got shaky, I am going to trust the man that grew up in Harlem and was tough before he was experimented on. He grew up in the streets! The team is not going to run into a situation that Luke Cage has not seen before, or at least something similar. That is what I want from a leader who is going to be leading a team that is mostly beating up ninjas: grit, toughness, and indestructibility.

Iron Fist (Matt Nando Kelly)

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We don’t know a ton about the Netflix version of Danny Rand yet, but here are some character essentials that will almost certainly go from the page to the screen.

  1. He is a warrior that has been training since childhood to become a living weapon.

That’s all I need but I’ll continue anyway.

  1. He grew up in the mystical city of K’un-L’un and mastered martial arts over the course of ten years.
  2. His teacher was someone named The Thunderer.
  3. To finish his training, Danny beat up a dragon and punched its heart to gain its powers.

Sounds just like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage right? Exactly. Every other member of the Defenders is some sort of normal guy who had a science thing happen to them that gave them powers they barely know how to use. Daredevil has been a superhero since college. Luke Cage starts heroing at like 30. Jessica Jones still can’t fly. Iron Fist is the only member of the team that is a true master.

Also it looks like the Defenders are going to be fighting ninjas. Daredevil kind of knows how to handle himself around one, although he will almost certainly have to fight Elektra at some point and you just know he’s gonna have a Point Break moment and let her go. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage could probably beat a ninja but when the magical device that is about to destroy the city is activated, they’re more or less useless. Danny is the only member of the team with magical training. He not only knows how to beat a ninja in combat but how to handle their magic, since he’s probably run into it before.

Finally, the martial arts are just that. An art. And every one who took Tae Kwon Do for a year when they were nine knows it’s as mostly the art of discipline. Daredevil has some but he also has a tendency to go full Daredevil and just let the bad guys have it, which is not always a good thing. Luke Cage seems to have a fair amount of coolness but that always doesn’t translate to true discipline. Jessica Jones is an alcoholic with a horrible attitude who, again, can’t fly. Danny Rand is the only member of the team with the temperament to lead a team of misfits like the Defenders.

Also he beat a dragon once.