“The war for New York is here.”

Good thing there are heroes out there who can defend it.

Marvel’s The Defenders are officially joining forces today in an eight-episode Netflix miniseries. The one-off crossover event strings together the narratives of four low-profile Marvel superheroes whose local stomping grounds happen to be within the Big Apple.

Will it prove as satisfying as 2012’s The Avengers? We’re certainly rooting for it, and here’s why you should, too:

This is what superheroics looks like on the streets.

Let’s put it this way: the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superheroes are flashy, proud, and to some extent, have embraced a certain degree of celebrity. Marvel’s Netflix foursome? Outcasts. Vigilantes, at best. They have it in them to stand up for what’s right, but they’re not necessarily excited to be in the position to do so.

Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a true champion of justice and goodness, being both an honest lawyer and a devout Catholic. But it’s also this core nature that feeds an overwhelming, tormenting guilt each time he takes to the rooftops as Daredevil—or as his Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood prefers to call him, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.

His soon-to-be-teammates have their own issues, but are altogether not that different.

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) struggles against post-traumatic stress syndrome, alcoholism, and the resultant self-loathing. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) has the superhuman strength and impenetrable skin to exact revenge on those who’ve wronged him—he’s been wrongfully imprisoned and hooked into a city-wide crime plot—but all he really wants is peace and quiet. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) struggles with his identity as an orphan who wants to protect his family’s legacy, but is also a champion destined to defeat a mystical enemy.

This is not to say that the MCU heroes are devoid of their own struggles. It’s just that the Defenders carry theirs around with more weight, and, at times, relatability. How all that baggage and reluctance play into their dynamics as a team should provide for some interesting viewing.

Sigourney Weaver.

Heading into The Defenders, fans of the previous Marvel-Netflix series should have an inkling that the team’s primary foil is The Hand, the mysterious organization that runs New York’s criminal underworld from the shadows. But then we also know that Sigourney Weaver has joined the cast with a prominent role.

One of the ultimate badasses of our generation is the latest member of a growing list of exceptional Marvel-Netflix antagonists. Vincent D’Onofrio, David Tennant, Mahershala Ali, and Alfre Woodard have all turned in laudable performances as the Kingpin, Kilgrave, Cottonmouth, and Mariah Dillard, respectively—all formidable and compelling foes that have contributed to the success of the previous series.

Weaver has claimed that her Alexandra character is more adversary to The Defenders than a straight-up villain—and we can’t wait to see whatever that means.

There are already more than four Defenders.

At least unofficially.

Even without directly connecting to the larger MCU, the Marvel-Netflix universe is already huge. In addition to establishing the four main heroes, the past four series have also introduced a strong roster of secondary characters, each capable of playing a significant role in championing the good on the streets of New York in his or her own way.

Returning in The Defenders are Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Stick (Scott Glenn) from Daredevil; Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville) and Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) from Jessica Jones; Misty Knight (Simone Missick) from Luke Cage; and, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) from Iron Fist. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, the proverbial woman-on-the-street character that ties a common thread across all of the first four Marvel-Netflix series, will also be back.

Two other characters from the previous Daredevil seasons merit mention here. Expect one to “return from the dead” to push The Defenders’ story forward, while the other? Whether or not this fan-favorite shows up in this miniseries is something that fans will need to endure a punishingly long wait for.

The events that unfold in The Defenders will shape the future of the Marvel-Netflix universe. This expansive range of characters promises that even without connecting with the greater MCU (a deliberate choice on Marvel’s part), there are more stories to explore in subsequent series and shows.

Marvel’s The Defenders hits Netflix today, August 18th.

About The Author

Jason Marges

Jason is a fanboy who lights up every time comics, movies, Optimus Prime, Godzilla, improv, sea turtles, or stuffed crust pizza is brought up in a conversation. His latest adventure is the simultaneously terrifying and terrific thing called fatherhood.