Marvel’s Defenders: Who Should Be The Next Four?

If Netflix continues to mine the Marvel seam, which characters might come in for the Defenders treatment next?

Marvel's The Defenders
Photo: Marvel/Netflix

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

The Marvel-Netflix deal might have met its initial goal with the broadcast of crossover series The Defenders, but there’s no stopping that particular gravy train – future seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are already on their way.

Marvel has already shows its willingness to add new characters to their roster of heroes with a Punisher series due to drop this year, and deals like New Warriors and Cloak & Dagger at other networks show that they’re not afraid of pushing D-listers into the spotlight to see what takes. So with the obvious choices already taken care of, we couldn’t help wondering: which characters should make up a second wave of Defenders shows?

Here’s what we came up with…

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Moon Knight

You know what Batman’s missing? A quasi-religious underpinning and serious mental health problems. Doing a direct Moon Knight show might prove a little too hard to swallow – not least because a religious fanatic with multiple personality disorder is more obviously a villain than a hero – but cast the show around a supporting character – for example, Detective Flint from the recent Warren Ellis run – and suddenly it seems like easing people into the character wouldn’t be completely impossible.

Moon Knight’s whole deal is fairly unusual – a former CIA agent, Marc Spector was murdered on a job in Egypt. Placed beneath an idol of Khonshu, he was promised a return to life in exchange for service to the god. He accepted, and became ‘the fist of Khonshu’, granted superhuman strength healing, and resistance to pain – although some or all of this might actually be explained by the mental illnesses he’s afflicted with, including a powerful multiple personality disorder.

Of course, Marvel-Netflix likes to keep the powers fairly vague as it is, so this is virtually perfect for them – and Moon Knight’s sometime ‘power’ of a blank, highly adaptable personality creates a potential TV format that would see him use his abilities to blend in with any situation required while attempting to stop crimes – which, luckily for us, is what Khonshu is into.

And hey, being psychologically unstable is a good way of explaining why a vigilante operating in the shadows would spend all of his time in a white hooded cloak…

Master of Kung Fu

We know Marvel-Netflix likes two things: fistfights and not spending money. And boy, would Master Of Kung Fu involve a lot of both. Shang Chi was raised as an assassin by his father, an ancient sorcerer, but rebelled when he realized he was working for the forces of evil. After becoming a secret agent, he travels the world attempting to bring down his father’s criminal empire using his unparalleled mastery of combat.

Although Netflix has its fill of martial artists, Shang-Chi’s globetrotting adventures – no doubt accomplished using a variety of filters – would lend a unique texture to his adventures. And hey, who wouldn’t look forward to Iron Fist and Shang Chi duking it out to determine who is, once and for all, the true master of Kung Fu? (Spoilers: it would not be Iron Fist). Indeed, Chi’s backstory is ripe to be retrofitted with the Marvel-Netflix version of The Hand, who just happen to be a global network of criminals, headed up by immortals, with roots in East Asia.

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The risk is that despite some popularity in the 1970s Shang-Chi has never been a huge draw for audiences, not least because he was riding a wave of exploitation cinema that hasn’t come back around. The format and tone are both seriously outdated, and if Iron Fist struggled to entertain, well, this could end up being Iron Fist without the superpowers. 

On the other hand, give us some stuntwork to rival the kung fu cinema of old, and maybe it’d strike an untapped vein. After all, it’s not as if we’re getting cool-looking martial arts-based fiction on TV anywhere else.

She-Hulk

If there’s one thing you can say about the Marvel-Netflix shows, its that they’ve been fairly monotonous – not within themselves, but between one another. Soundtracks aside, all four have offered up some fairly grim, realist superheroes mixed with gratuitous violence. So why not take advantage of the Marvel Universe’s tonal variation and do a She-Hulk TV series as a workplace comedy?

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, She-Hulk is Jennifer Walters, a lawyer who happens to be Bruce Banner’s cousin. When she’s gunned down by the mob, a transfusion from Banner is the only way to save her life – but it also transfers his powers to her. However, the weakened dose gives her more control over her transformation and she continues her work as a lawyer alongside her superhero life as the She-Hulk.

The comic itself has been known to lean into the ridiculousness of the idea, not least in John Byrne’s famously fourth-wall breaking incarnation (move over, Deadpool!). As pitches go, it basically writes itself: Ally McBeal with superheroes. At best you could have her representing the other Netflix heroes in court, at worst, we’re sure there’s room for Foggy Nelson to cameo. 

The only major question is how you handle the Jen Walters/She-Hulk transformation. A full CGI She-Hulk is probably out – but would audiences accept Lou Ferrigno-style green paint? Figure that out and there’d be no stopping She-Hulk, who – through her consistently brilliant comic runs – remains one of Marvel’s best-kept-secrets.

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Echo

Unless you’re a card-carrying comic geek you’ve probably never heard of this relatively minor Daredevil character, but she turns up every few years and has a power set that lends itself perfectly to TV: imitation.

Born deaf, Maya Lopez has the ability to copy any action or movement after seeing it just once. An expert dancer, pianist, performance artist and fighter, she swore revenge against Daredevil after being manipulated into thinking he killed her father – though Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, was actually the man responsible. Eventually she turned on Fisk and became an ally of Daredevil, though she’s never far from a little crime-fighting of her own.

As well as being relatively low budget, Echo’s iconic look is very Netflix in itself – her costume is essentially just dancing gear with a white handprint on her face. There’s plenty of opportunity to intersect with Daredevil without the requirement to spin out, and best of all she’d be an all-too-rare example of a Native American character who isn’t defined by her background. The more we talk about it, the more we think it’s got to happen.