Marvel stars tease superhero epic
THE Defenders is what you would call "event TV" - a team-up of Marvel's street-level heroes to kick some villainous arse to kingdom come (well, hopefully).
It's a series almost four years in the making and it follows the roll-out of five seasons of solo adventures with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It's been called Marvel's TV version of a mini-Avengers. Except instead of saving the universe, they're saving a city.
All eight episodes of the highly anticipated Netflix show debut on the streaming service on Friday night so you can kiss your weekend goodbye.
News.com.au caught up with three of the show's four stars - Charlie Cox (Daredevil/Matt Murock), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Finn Jones (Iron Fist/Danny Rand) - on the New York set of The Defenders for a chat about what to expect when four very different heroes are forced to work together.
On where we find their character at the beginning of The Defenders:
Charlie Cox: "He's taking some time off from [being Daredevil] part of his life. He's been concentrating on his work as a lawyer, he's sleeping and not got bruises and cuts all over his body. He's making progress and he's dealing with the loss of Elektra. But I think what we learn is he's also living a lie, in the same way that he had been living a lie as Daredevil, he's been living a lie as not Daredevil. Part of his journey is going to be him coming to terms with that element of himself - that alter ego is really a fundamental part of who he is."
Mike Colter: "We wrap up Luke's incarceration stuff. He has to get his past behind him. I think he turns a page and he's not looking over his shoulder and thinking someone's going to knock on his door and take him back to prison. He has no reason to hide his identity anymore. He's got a new way about him and he has a love interest, Claire. He has a different perspective and I think he's going to be a lighter, more positive Luke Cage - one who's more driven and confident."
Finn Jones: "Right now, we're shooting The Defenders and I don't even see Danny Rand as a superhero yet. And in Danny's mind, he's not a superhero yet and that's really wonderful to be able to play that arc because you get a real, fleshed-out character, someone who's relatable. Danny grows up through Iron Fist and he continues to pursue his purpose and drive throughout The Defenders. And to play it all as one is really great [because Iron Fist and The Defenders were filmed back-to-back]. But I tell you what, filming constantly for a year is f**king exhausting. It's a marathon."
On their character's dynamic within the Defenders:
Cox: "Matt begins, reluctantly, to learn to have trust and make friends that share the same adversities he's grown up with. One of the things these series have was to show that having a super power isn't just an amazing gift and everyone loves it. In our world, it's something that's shameful at times and you feel lonely and alienated, like you're not part of the human race in the same way. It's a big step for Matt to find people he can really relate to and build trust and friendship with."
Colter: "Luke knows where he falls and he knows when to step forward, when to step back, when to stay quiet and when to speak up. It's a delicate balance because all of the Defenders have a leadership quality about them so working together as one is a challenge because they're so used to doing everything on their own."
Jones: "Danny is the youngest of the four so he brings a naivety, a recklessness and an optimism to the group which the others kind of admire but also condescend a little bit. We're all brought together out of a necessity to work together to take on the threat, and it's not a Power Rangers-esque thing. It's different to that, there's a lot friction but then within that, alliances start to form and it's real. It's what you would expect from four street-level superheroes coming together."
On the relationship between Luke Cage and Iron Fist, who has long-running friendship in the comics:
Colter: "The Defenders explore the journey of how Luke and Danny became friends and some of the roots of their relationship. These guys have very different backgrounds. It's a very unusual pairing. It's like Luke and Jessica Jones - how do those two opposites attract and work together? I think we'll see a little of that in The Defenders."
Jones: "With me and Mike, it feels very natural. Those scenes are some of my favourite scenes in The Defenders because our energies complement each other really well, as people, as well as in the writing and in the characters. It's not like Luke and Danny are buddies straightaway, there's friction between us as there would be with two people from different backgrounds. What really draws Danny to Luke and maybe Luke to Danny are the vulnerabilities of both characters."
On whether Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are destined to be coupled off, like in the comics:
Colter: "There's always a journey. Is there some endgame where Luke and Jessica will end up together? We don't know how this is all going to end up, how it's all going to play itself out. Along the journey, is Luke having a bit of fun? Maybe. It wasn't like Jessica was saying 'I want to be in a relationship with you', and even if she was, she did kill his wife so that's a little weird thing - it takes time to get over that. But some fans don't know about the Jessica thing and we've already said it's bigger than the comic books so those fans might think, 'oh, well, Claire is more stable for him than Jessica'. But the dynamic is there and Jessica is there so we'll see how it all works."
On melding four distinct shows together:
Colter: "All of our shows have different tones and our producers and directors have done a good job trying to mesh these worlds together. They're very aware that all the fans want to see the world of each character to be brought to this world. Even though it is New York City, it all feels a little different. Jessica's weird and cold world feels a little different to Luke's promising, colourful world and Daredevil's dark, edgy world. It's trying to meld those worlds together - that's the biggest challenge.
Cox: "Bringing four different shows together in a world that feels natural and coherent is a big task. Jessica Jones felt very different from Daredevil which I think felt very different from Luke Cage. The three felt very different but [the character of] Claire Temple [who crossed over in all four] made sense in all those shows, as did Hogarth and Foggy when they showed up. I think the answer lies in that. Although they feel different, there is a way where you merge these worlds where it feels like we're in the same universe."
On filming all-in action sequences with four superheroes:
Cox: "We had a lot of team-up stuff going on and it's a lot more complicated because when I do a fight sequence [on Daredevil] and there's a portion I can't do, my stunt double Chris Brewster does it and you only have to position the camera to hide one person's face. But if we've got a big team-up and there's a section all of us can't do or two of us can't do because it's particularly complex, you have to find a way to position the camera and not show the stunt doubles."
Colter: "I think some of the fight sequences are inventive because we're all using each other and stepping in to help. So it becomes a bit of a display of that. This is Daredevil's turn, this is Iron Fist's turn and this is Cage's turn. If you're in a fight and someone needs help, all of a sudden Jessica pops in. Everybody is helping everybody - I think that's what's cool. The camera is constantly moving and the action is heightened and fast."
On working together as part of an ensemble instead of as the lead in their own show:
Cox: "It's more complicated, at first it's difficult for us to just shut up because we're all actors and we all talk and get on as friends, and then you can see the production people are saying, 'guys you got to shut up, you got to start filming'."
Colter: "At the beginning, you don't have to be here every day and you think the schedule is really great. But then you start to miss the consistency of the storyline and knowing exactly what's going on at all times because there are so many stories. You have to pay attention and focus on where everybody is."
Jones: "Between all four of us working together, there are no egos and we're all team players. All the showrunners [of the individual series] have a say in The Defenders, so [The Defenders showrunner] Marco [Ramirez] and Marvel will look to [Iron Fist season one showrunner] Scott Buck. Scott will get the scripts for The Defenders as well and he will be able to make changes where he thinks it's relevant. As do I have a say in the show as well. It's a real collaboration."
On how The Defenders differ from The Avengers:
Colter: "The Defenders are not people who are trying to be above society. We function best when people don't know who we are. At the beginning of The Defenders, we're all trying to not get involved because that's not what we do, we're not the intergalactic group of people travelling around looking for people to defeat. We're people who have a job, we pay rent and we have something that we're trying to do but we have a limit. And we don't have the budget for [aliens in the sky]. Everything happens below the clouds."
Cox: "We also have much smaller scenes with just a couple of us sitting in a coffee shop and having a chat because we have much more time to fill. Often those are my favourite scenes to do because as an actor, that's where you can find the subtleties and nuances of what really makes these characters. The whole reason I think these shows have worked is because these characters have been written and performed humanely, like you should recognise yourself in these people."
Where to next?
Cox: "I think whatever happens to these guys in this show is part of their journey going forward. It has to be the line remains linear - it's not an isolated event. What happens in this show has to inform the other shows."
Jones: "I'd really like a Heroes for Hire series [in the comic books, Luke Cage and Danny Rand have a business together called Heroes for Hire], maybe mixed with the Daughters of the Dragon. So a big ensemble with all five of us - Danny, Luke, Colleen, Misty and Claire - under the Heroes for Hire name. I think that would be a really nice idea, but it wouldn't be a while."
The Defenders premiere on Netflix tomorrow at 5pm AEST.
Wenlei Ma travelled to New York as a guest of Netflix.