Marvel’s Defenders: The Defenders’ Netflix Series Origins
The Defenders are coming to Disney+! Recently, Marvel announced that the Netflix original series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders will be switching streaming platforms. Following the character Daredevil’s reintroduction into the MCU, this is a huge and important step in consolidating a canon timeline for Marvel Cinematic Universe content.
Whether you’re sitting down for another rewatch or seeing these shows for the first time, you could probably use a refresher on who’s who, who they are fighting, and why they are fighting before tuning in on March 13. Below we’ll break down the origins, antagonists, and basic motivations for Marvel’s most down-to-earth heroes.
Matt Murdock / Daredevil
Matt Murdock was born to the nun Maggie Grace and a boxer named Jack Murdock. Matt’s mother left early in his life due to her postpartum depression, and so Matt was raised by his single father who encouraged him to study hard and go somewhere in life. Sadly, at only 9 years old young Matty was exposed to hazardous chemicals that spilled from a wrecked Rand Oil & Chemicals truck. While this exposure blinded him, it also granted him heightened senses such as a higher sensitivity to sound.
Not long after, Matt was orphaned and lived in a Catholic church’s care. There he met an old blind man called Stick who trained Matt to become a skilled fighter. However, Stick left Matt when Matt demonstrated that he still cared deeply about other people. Thus Matt pursued intellectual justice instead, attending law school with his best friend Foggy Nelson. Even though Nelson & Murdock created their own law firm, Matt couldn’t sit by and listen to suffering in Hell’s Kitchen, so he donned a basic black mask and suit to work as the vigilante Daredevil. Daredevil fought most often against Wilson Fisk AKA Kingpin, and only much later donned the classic red suit that earned him the nickname “Red.”
Jessica Jones was orphaned at a young age. She was the only survivor of a family car crash — although she did die on the table, which caused her to go into a coma. While she was unconscious, the organization IGH put her through experimental gene editing therapy which later resulted in Jessica developing impressive physical abilities. These abilities included super strength, enhanced mobility and resilience, and a limited form of flight. Despite being powerful, Jessica never wanted to be a hero.
In her adult life Jessica was suffering from unresolved trauma and depression that led her to become dependent upon drugs and alcohol. She went through a series of crappy, dead-end jobs just to make ends meet. While working one of these jobs she saved a little girl from getting run over by a taxi. This event completely changed Jessica’s mind about being a hero. She resolved from that day forward to use her powers for good — though she would still be cynical while saving the day. However, Jessica refused to take on an avenging alter ego like “Jewel” and instead fought crime as both a private investigator at Alias Investigations and a casual vigilante.
Carl Lucas was born in Harlem. While serving as a policeman in his adulthood, Carl was wrongfully convicted of a crime and sent to Seagate Prison. There, Albert Rackham tried to kill Carl. In order to save his life the prison doctor Noah Burstein subjected Carl to a dangerous medical experiment. The experiment gave Carl superhuman strength as well as unbreakable skin. After this event, Carl escaped prison, changed his name to Luke Cage, married Reva Connors, and moved to Hell’s Kitchen. He opened his own bar — Luke’s — and lived there happily until Reva died in a bus crash.
Later, Luke and Jessica Jones were entangled romantically until Luke discovered Jessica had inadvertently caused Reva’s death while under the influence of the villain Kilgrave. In order to escape his painful past, Luke returned to Harlem and worked at Pop’s Barber Shop. In this city he fought against Cottonmouth, earning a reputation for himself as Power Man, the hero of Harlem and the only man who would stand up to organized crime or self-appointed despots.
Danny Rand / Iron Fist
Danny Rand was born to a wealthy, privileged family from New York City. While on a plane together, the family crashed in the Himalayas. At 10 years old, only Danny survived. He was rescued by monks and taken to K’un-Lun to become an elite warrior called Iron Fist. Once Danny was ready, he returned to the city to reclaim his title as heir to Rand Enterprises. Unfortunately, his company was being used to funnel a new type of heroin throughout the city.
Thus, Danny fought on both fronts to save his legacy. As Iron Fist he confronted the Hand and its leader Madame Gao. As Danny Rand he contended with businessmen in league with the Hand. During this time, Danny’s only ally was Colleen Wing.
Frank Castle / The Punisher
Francis David “Frank” Castiglione Sr. was born in Hell’s Kitchen. He often struggled to control his urges to hurt people when he was angry. When he grew up, he joined the Marines and fought in Afghanistan. Frank was so proficient at being a soldier that he was inducted alongside his best friend Billy Russo into the ranks of Marine Force Recon, putting him behind enemy lines for classified, dangerous, and often morally questionable missions. As a result, Frank developed severe PTSD.
He returned to his wife and children in New York City only to lose them to a mass shooting. Abandoning his former identity, Frank legally changed his name to Frank Castle and assumed the vigilante identity of Punisher, who aimed to rid the streets of crime by any means necessary.
Elektra was raised by Stick as a member of the Chaste. She was an extremely skilled warrior even at age 12, but her anger controlled her during fights. She did not feel bad when she almost beat a man to death, as he had harassed her and she did not see value in his life. Eventually another member of Elektra’s organization attempted to assassinate her, so Elektra cut his throat. Elektra was forced to leave the Chaste to go into hiding, which is when she was adopted by ambassadors.
Later, Elektra was sent to seduce Matt Murdock. The pair fell in love, however, and Elektra tried to turn Matt toward his darker impulses. When he refused she left, disgusted with him, and only later would she return to help Daredevil fight against the Hand.
Who is your favorite Defender from the Netflix Marvel shows? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!