When people think of Marvel superhero teams, the names that usually come to mind are the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four or the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, the Defenders rarely come to mind. But now that a TV show based on the team is just a week away from premiering, more people are wondering who the Defenders are.
The Defenders first appeared in Marvel Feature #1, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by artists Neal Adams and Ross Andru on December 1971. While in his deathbed, a techno-wizard named Yandroth reveals to his old foe Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, that he had created a doomsday device called Omegatron that would destroy the Earth five minutes after its activation. Acting quickly, Doctor Strange persuaded lone-wolfs Namor and The Hulk, heroes with whom Doctor Strange had teamed up before, to help him save stop the doomsday device. After the threat was dealt with, Doctor Strange declared that if they had to team up again, they would call themselves the Defenders.
And so, the Defenders were born. Unlike other superhero teams, the team didn’t have an official roster or headquarters, and team members didn’t share a special relationship and even were at odds with each other at times. This prompted many superheroes to join the team, often for brief amounts of time. Any superhero who aided the team could be considered a defender, but only a select few were considered official defenders because they called themselves so and because they were accepted by the core team.
Examples of official members include the alien Silver Surfer, the Asgardian warrior goddess Valkyrie, Nighthawk the former member of the villainous Squadron Sinister and head of Richmond Enterprises, the half-demon Daemon Hellstrom, the dissident Russian super-heroine Red Guardian, Hellcat the former model turned super-heroine, and the Gargoyle, the spirit of an elderly man trapped in a demon’s body. There was also Clea, Doctor Strange’s disciple, who helped the team on an irregular basis.
Other recurring members included Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Yellowjacket (Hank Pym, the original Ant-man) and many other heroes who didn’t usually didn’t work with each other or anyone else for that matter.
This ever-changing roster of characters fought against menaces like Dormammu, Xemnu the Titan, the Headmen, Egghead’s Emissaries of Evil, Null the Living Darkness and the Undying Ones. These threats were usually known only to the Defenders and as such, they remained a secret for a long time.
There have been many iterations of the Defenders such as the New Defenders, the Secret Defenders and the Fearless Defenders. Due to the team’s long history and numerous comic book iterations, the Defenders got their own television series titled The Defenders. The roster of the team (consisting of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist) may be different from the original but, the spirit of the team is the same as the original team and other iterations: when a threat calls for it, heroes that don’t usually work with each other or anyone else must learn to work together to become the world’s Defenders.
The Defenders, created by Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez, is a live-action television mini-series starring Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Finn Jones (Iron Fist), and Sigourney Weaver as the series’ antagonist. It will be the culmination of the previous Marvel Netflix TV shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It is set to release on August 18, 2018 on Netflix.