'Defenders' Team on Challenges of Multi-Superhero Show

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From left: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Finn Jones and Mike Colter

Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, Rosario Dawson and other Marvel TV veterans welcomed fans — plus Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Cindy Holland — at the show's New York premiere.

Marvel’s The Defenders, Netflix's highly anticipated series uniting the superheroes from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, begins streaming on Aug. 18, but its cast assembled Monday night for the show's New York premiere.

“We’ve met, over the last few years, four characters who have no interest in having friends or being part of a team,” said Charlie Cox, who plays blind lawyer Matt Murdock and his alter ego, Daredevil, of the challenge with the show. “So the question for me was, how are you going to get them in a room, and how are you going to keep them there? And how are you going to do that in a way that seems authentic?” 

Simone Missick, who reprises her Luke Cage role as Detective Misty Knight, added, “They have to naturally, for real, deal with each other.”  

Ahead of the screening of The Defenders' first and second episodes at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Missick said she appreciated how the four series that set the stage for The Defenders did so in an extended way.

“The benefit of these 13-episode shows is that you get to see the evolution of these characters, and it’s a really nice build-up,” she said, whereas The Defenders is “all smashed together in eight episodes.”

Still, executive producer S.J. Clarkson, who said she was "terrified and excited in equal measure" about the show's debut, explained that early in The Defenders, “I really was keen to have one-on-one time with each of the characters … because many of the people who saw Jessica maybe hadn’t seen Daredevil, or the people that had seen Luke hadn’t seen Jessica.”

She thus aimed to answer, “Who are the characters? What do they say? What do they want? And how can I show that cinematically and creatively?”

One method was through the palette she established: Scenes with each lead are awash in their signature primary color (red for Cox’s Daredevil, blue for Krysten Ritter’s Jones, yellow for Mike Colter’s Cage and green for Finn Jones’ Iron Fist). “Hopefully that’ll draw you in and then when they all come together, it’s an even more exciting and bigger payoff,” said Clarkson.

The protagonists finally meet at a Chinese restaurant in the third episode of The Defenders to discuss their shared foe, The Hand, an ancient organized-crime sect led by Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver).

“That might be my favorite episode of TV I ever worked on,” said Daredevil veteran and Defenders showrunner Marco Ramirez.

Post-premiere, the cast and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos reassembled three subway stops north at The Standard Biergarten.

Afterparty lighting was provided by a small, simulated dumpster fire and a neon sign that read, “THERE’S NO US IN TEAM.” Even after 11 p.m., there was a receiving line to greet Colter. But he was careful to keep an eye on the time as at 5:45 a.m., the actor had scheduled a pick-up to resume work on Luke Cage season two.

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