Quick Answer: The Defenders is a forthcoming show from Marvel that is set to be released on Netflix in 2017. The series will follow Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist—all of whom have or are projected to have their own Netflix shows—as they unite and fight against a threat to New York City. Imagine The Avengers, only grittier and more jaded. Although The Defenders will be a culmination of Netflix's Marvel shows, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb says it won’t be necessary to watch all four series. He said in an interview, "We have to tell a story that feels like it’s of its own world."
Back in 2013, Marvel announced its plan to roll out several Netflix series over the next few years: Daredevil (2015 - ), Jessica Jones (2015 - ), Luke Cage (2016), Iron Fist (2017), and The Defenders (2017). So far, two seasons of Daredevil and one season of Jessica Jones have been released to glowing reviews. During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel finally released trailers for Luke Cage and Iron Fist, as well as a teaser for The Defenders.
While all these shows exist in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe, the characters will interact with each other for the first time as a team in The Defenders. But which superheroes will be included?
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
The first Marvel series that Netflix released was Daredevil. Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a blind attorney who becomes the masked vigilante Daredevil at night to protect his neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen. Although he is blind, he can “see” with his heightened hearing. He uses this sensory skillset to his advantage and can “see” more than the average person. When he was a young orphan, Matt trained under the instruction of a mysterious man named Stick, who taught him how to control his senses and fight. Years later, Matt uses the identity of Daredevil to protect Hell’s Kitchen from the crime lord Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), the deadly vigilante known as the Punisher (Jon Bernthal), and the secretive organization called “The Hand.”
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones
Up next is Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), a former superhero with superhuman strength and abilities who retired after a traumatic incident involving Kilgrave (David Tennant), a manipulative man who can control minds. Now, Jessica Jones works as a private investigator for her agency, Alias Investigations. However, when Kilgrave returns to haunt Jessica, she is forced to return to her superhero lifestyle as she protects New York City and herself from the dangerous Kilgrave while continuing her work as a P.I.
The next Defender is Luke Cage (Mike Colter), whose Netflix show will premiere in September, 2016. Cage first appeared in Jessica Jones as part of one of Jessica’s investigations. Luke Cage will focus on Luke’s attempt to rebuild his life after a sabotaged experiment leaves him with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. Now he must fight crime as he confronts the dark past he tried to get away from.
The last member of the Defenders is Iron Fist. Iron Fist is the superhero identity of Danny Rand, a billionaire and martial arts expert who gained the powers of the Iron Fist after extensive training in the mystical city of K’un-Lun. When Danny returns to New York after a long absence, he uses his skills in kung fu and the power of the Iron Fist to fight against corruption.
Iron Fist will join Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage to become the Defenders. Unlike their cinematic counterparts the Avengers, the Defenders will fight against local threats to New York, not the world. Just as the Avengers found an adviser in Nick Fury, the teaser for The Defenders suggests that Daredevil’s Stick will return as a mentor for the ragtag team of superheroes. The Punisher will also get a solo Netflix series, but the release date has yet to be announced, and it remains to be seen whether the Punisher will make an appearance on The Defenders.
Although The Defenders will be a culmination of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, it won’t be necessary to watch all four series. In an interview with Collider, Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel TV and the executive producer for all of Marvel's Netflix series, said, “We expect that people who are watching Marvel’s Luke Cage have maybe seen Jessica Jones and have met Mike [Colter] and Luke Cage, but we can’t bet on that. We have to tell a story that feels like it’s of its own world.” Loeb thinks that the most interesting aspect of the miniseries will be the way the four very different superheroes will interact with each other, but we’ll have to wait and see until The Defenders comes out on Netflix in 2017.