The Defenders: recapping Netflix’s Marvel universe so far

Ahead of The Defenders Netflix debut, here's a recap of what's gone on in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist up until now...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

The long-awaited superhero team-up Netflix show, Marvel’s The Defenders, is about to hit screens. Uniting Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, it’ll be the first time these four characters (and their supporting casts) have met on screen, ending three years and five seasons of build-up.

But who are these characters, and what will each of them be bringing to the table in terms of their status quo, backstory and supporting cast? In case you skipped any of the previous Marvel/Netflix shows – or in case it’s just been so long since you saw them you’ve forgotten what happened – here’s a chronological look at everything that’s been building up to the Defenders meeting.

Daredevil Season 1

The first season of Daredevil shows blind lawyer Matt Murdock on the trail of the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. A super-rich crime boss who worked in the shadows for years, the mass destruction of New York during the events of The Avengers has left gaps for organised crime to fill, so Fisk and his allies – Leland Owlsley, Madame Gao and Nobu – are taking the opportunities.

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Murdock uses a combination of his legal prowess, martial arts training and superhumanly enhanced senses to work both sides of the law to try and expose Fisk and his criminal partners. Aiding him are his best friend from college and legal partner, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page, a woman Matt initially protected as she became the target of crime, who then joined the firm as their secretary/assistant.

Although Foggy’s discovery that Matt is Daredevil threatens to drive a wedge between them, the trio eventually defeat Fisk and he’s taken to prison after being publically exposed for his crimes. Nobu and Owlsley are killed, while Madame Gao shutters her operations and disappears.

Supporting characters:

Stick, an old blind man who trained Matt to fight, and whose presence in New York was part of a plan to track down the Black Sky – whoever or whatever that was.

Melvin Potter, an inventor and former criminal who builds high-tech gear and protective clothing for his clients.

Claire Temple, a nurse at Metro-General hospital who helps Matt when he’s injured and helps morally guide him.

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Vanessa Marianna, an art-dealer who becomes Fisk’s fiancé and flees New York after he is captured.

James Wesley, Fisk’s assistant and confidante, who is killed by Karen Page when he threatens her.

Ben Urich, an investigative reporter at the Globe, who is murdered by Fisk when he gets too close to exposing his operation.

Jessica Jones Season 1

Jessica Jones received superhuman powers in the crash that killed her family, and years later, after a traumatic experience at the hands of Kilgrave – a man whose superhuman abilities allow him to compel people to do anything he commands – she halts an attempt at vigilante crimefighting and forms her own detective agency. However, her PTSD and associated alcoholism and depression make her reckless and self-destructive.

While investigating a case, she crosses the path of Kilgrave once more and vows to stop him permanently. She is assisted by Tricia Walker, her adoptive sister and radio DJ, and Luke Cage, a widower and Jones’ occasional love-interest who also has superhuman abilities. As Kilgrave searches for information about his past, Cage discovers that she was the person who killed his dead wife, Reeva, while under Kilgrave’s influence, causing him to abandon Jones. He’s later captured by Kilgrave and forced to fight Jessica, but defeated. With Trish’s help Jones eventually corners Kilgrave and snaps his neck after discovering that continued exposure has made her immune to his powers. Although arrested for Kilgrave’s murder, she’s freed by her lawyer, Jeri Hogarth, and continues to work as a detective.

Supporting characters:

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Malcom Ducasse, a neighbour of Jones and former drug addict, who was used by Kilgrave to spy on her. He now assists Jones as part of her company, Alias Investigations.

Will Simpson, a former soldier who becomes Trish’s love interest but is driven crazy by experimental pills he takes which give him superhuman powers. He’s later taken away by the men behind the drugs.

Daredevil Season 2

The downfall of Wilson Fisk and his cohorts leaves a power vacuum in the criminal underworld, and various gangs attempt to fill it – except that someone is out to murder them all. Frank Castle (aka The Punisher) is the man responsible and it falls to Daredevil to bring him in. After capturing Frank, Nelson and Murdock take the case to defend him in court while Karen Page searches for more on his background.

Meanwhile, Matt’s old love interest, Elektra, has returned to New York. Now a dangerous assassin for hire, she reveals that Stick rescued her from The Hand – an ancient order of criminal ninjas. It transpires that she was herself a Black Sky candidate who Stick helped train, and she and Matt attempt to take down the Yakuza in New York together.

Matt’s continued focus on his work as Daredevil strains the personal and professional relationships between himself and Foggy/Karen as he misses court dates and lies to them both. Nelson & Murdock disbands after The Punisher is sent to jail, leaving Karen to join the Globe as an investigative reporter and Foggy to join the law firm of Hogarth, Chao and Benowitz. Luckily for Frank, the Kingpin – who now controls the entire prison – releases him after realising he could be an asset against his enemies.

It transpires that the Yakuza in New York are actually The Hand, and are searching for something buried beneath the city as well as harvesting blood from children for an unknown purpose. Matt discovers that their leader is Nobu, the crime boss he thought was dead, mysteriously returned to life. Although Daredevil, Elektra, The Punisher and Stick manage to defeat The Hand and Nobu, Elektra is mortally wounded and dies. Stick beheads Nobu to prevent his resurrection. Throughout it all, Claire Temple assists Matt but eventually quits her job when she realises the hospital bosses are corrupt and helping to cover up the strange events perpetrated by The Hand.

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In the final scenes, Matt reveals to Karen that he is Daredevil, while The Hand steal Elektra’s body.

Luke Cage Season 1

After the events of Jessica Jones, the invulnerable Luke Cage has returned to Harlem. We learn that Cage was framed for crimes he didn’t commit before breaking out of prison, and as such he attempts to keep a low profile – however he finds himself crossing paths with Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes, a nightclub owner and arms dealer. Stokes and his councilwoman cousin, Mariah Dillard, are attempting to gain control Harlem by funding her campaign with illegal earnings. Throughout, NYPD detective Misty Knight investigates the crimes committed both by and against Luke.

Cage attempts to expose the corruption in Harlem, but it’s ultimately for nothing – Dillard kills Stokes and frames Cage for the murder, causing the city to turn on him. Luke’s half-brother, Diamondback, returns to the city with weapons that can harm Cage. Despite being a wanted man by helping people and demonstrating his innocence, he’s able to regain support and convince Misty that he’s one of the good guys.

Still blaming Luke for ruining his life, Stryker uses a powered suit to try and take Cage down, but ultimately Cage defeats him. Dillard is arrested, but released when the key witness is killed before they can testify. Having noticed Luke’s existence due to the increased profile in Harlem, federal marshals arrive to bring Cage back to Seagate, though before this happens he and Claire begin a romantic relationship.

Supporting characters:

Pops – a surrogate father to both Stokes and Luke, Pops the barber is killed by Stokes’ henchmen as they attempt to kill Luke by attacking the barbershop despite its status as neutral ground.

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Shades – Working with Stokes and then later Dillard, Shades is initially Stryker henchman charged with acting as his eyes and ears in Harlem, though when Stryker is taken out he joins forces with Dillard.

Dr. Burstein – The man who gave Luke his powers and worked with Reva Conners, Luke’s future wife, at Seagate.

Iron Fist Season 1

Danny Rand returns to New York after over a decade away, during which time he was believed to be the victim of the plane crash that also killed his parents. Danny explains that while away he was living in the mystical city of K’un L’un and has been bestowed the power of the Iron Fist, making him the sworn enemy of The Hand. While attempting to recover his share of the company his father once owned, he is antagonised by Joy and Ward Meachum, who inherited their half of the company from their father. He also meets and befriends Colleen Wing, a martial arts instructor who trains street kids.

It is soon revealed that the Meachums’ father, Harold, is actually still alive after being mystically resurrected by The Hand, though only Ward knows this. Danny finds out, and is then manipulated by Harold, who answers to Madame Gao – herself revealed as one of The Hand’s leaders. After proving his identity, Danny is given a position at Rand-Meachum and uses it to investigate Gao’s unusual real estate operations and synthetic heroin trade. He tracks her to China assisted by Wing and her latest student, Claire Temple. Danny discovers that Gao is responsible for his father’s death and brings her back to the US as his prisoner.

Back in the US, Rand and Wing interrogate Gao inside a facility owned by Bakuto, Wing’s mentor, but after revealing Harold as the mastermind behind Danny’s parents’ death she escapes. As Bakuto attempts to influence Danny into doing his bidding, we learn that he’s the head of a second faction of The Hand. Now convinced The Hand is evil, Wing and Rand defeat Bakuto, though his body disappears. Joy discovers that her father is alive and he allies with her, setting Ward up to take the fall for Gao’s illegal business which she has been conducting through Rand-Meachum. However, after a fight with Danny Harold is killed once again. With the help of Rand’s lawyer Hogarth, Danny and Ward are able to clear themselves and regain control of the company.

Angered at her treatment by Ward and Danny, Joy disappears. Ward cremates the body of his father to prevent further resurrections. Finally, Wing and Rand return to K’un L’un, only to discover the city gone and dead members of The Hand everywhere.

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Supporting characters:

Davos – Danny’s childhood friend Davos was a resident of K’un L’un and potential candidate for the Iron Fist. He is angry that Danny refuses to take his duty seriously and guard the city’s gates, instead leaving for New York. In the final scenes, he allies with Joy declaring that Danny must be killed.

The Defenders arrives on Netflix on Friday the 18th of August.

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