#TypesTuesday – The Defenders: The Appeal of Crossovers
by Guest Contributor Oscar Harding
Three of the highest-grossing films of all time are The Avengers and the two most recent installments of the Fast & Furious franchise. Besides a blockbuster budget and total abandonment of reality, they have something in common- they are ensemble pieces featuring much-loved characters interacting with each other.
Audiences have made it clear they want very different characters to come together for massive summer events. On the smaller screen, the latest attempt at capitalizing on this success has been Netflix’s The Defenders, bringing together the main characters from their 4 original series so far. The ratings aren’t believed to have been stellar, but critically it has received mixed reviews. It is an excellent opportunity to examine how different character types interact with each other when forced together by extraordinary circumstances.
Daredevil – Power of Love
Daredevil, the heroic alias for blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is all-too-human, his decisions- rather ironically- blinded by his love for his friends, his city, his religion and the troublesome Elektra (Elodie Yung). He can never truly be a perfect superhero, despite his incredible skills and decades of training, because he lets affection get in the way.
Daredevil has been compared to Batman, but whilst both are motivated by justice, Batman is not held back by love (he is a Power of Truth character) and trusts few people. Matt, however, regularly ignores his calling because he knows it will put people in harm’s way. The only reason he teams up with Jessica, Luke and Danny is an entire city of innocent people is at stake.
Power of Love characters can be undone by there constant need to be relied on, indulging in self-pity as they believe they go above and beyond for those they love and their devotion is not returned. The more attached Daredevil gets, the more he sabotages himself, and in The Defenders his love for the antagonist constantly hinders the team’s efforts to save New York City.
But it is this personality that means he is equally reliable and will always protect his fellow teammates. In the dire situation that The Defenders find themselves in, Daredevil’s Power of Love traits are their greatest strength as well as their greatest weakness.
Jessica Jones – Power of Reason
Private eye Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is the polar opposite to Daredevil- the cynical alcoholic has little emotional attachment to anyone, driven only by the need to solve mysteries- it’s what she’s best at.
She is not obsessed with justice or love, and wants to defeat The Hand as soon as possible so she can be left alone. Everything but the mission at hand is a distraction.
Like all Power of Reason characters, be they detectives or not, Jessica sees the world as a series of puzzle to be solved, questions to be answers and codes to be cracked. The world has to adhere to set rules, and any deviation from that presents a problem. She also lacks the charm of other Private Eyes- Rick Deckard and Jake Gittes are Power of Truth characters who can use their charisma to achieve their objectives, but Jessica can’t rely on that.
Jessica, as reluctant as she is, is a vital part of The Defenders because … Luke is the emotional anchor, Daredevil is the defacto leader, and Iron Fist is the muscle, but Jessica is the one who drives the others to stay focused. Once she knows she has been proven right about this mystery that threatens New York, she is totally dedicated to the cause and never wavers. This cobbled-together team is an uneasy alliance, and when Jessica knows they are vital to restoring order, she is ruthless in making them stick to their objective.
Luke Cage – Power of Conscience
Bulletproof hero Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was once described by a nemesis as “Harlem’s Captain America”, and it’s an apt description. Like Captain America, Luke is a Power of Conscience character.
These characters believe they have to look out for others. They have a profound sense of right and wrong. Luke is no exception- He fights for what he believes to be moral and right. He will sacrifice everything to be Harlem’s hero, looking out for the residents of the borough because he thinks no one else will.
He encounters the rest of The Defenders whilst on a mission to deliver justice for a resident of Harlem who has been ruined by the secret organization, The Hand. The others cross paths whilst undertaking a quest or to solve a mystery- only Luke is acting out of the interest of someone else. This action speaks volumes about his character.
As part of an ensemble, he is the real anchor of the group. Jessica is reluctant to be part of the team every step of the way, Daredevil is blinded by his love for the enemy. Danny is unfocused in terms of who he is, and his mission. Luke has to remind them why they are fighting, who they are fighting for, and what is at stake. Like Jessica, he is reluctant to be part of The Defenders but understands it is necessary for them to stand to together. He is their moral compass and their steadying influence is essential with a group of such wildcards.
Iron Fist – Power of Ambition
Danny Rand (Finn Jones) refers to himself by the mouthful of a title “The Immortal Iron Fist, Protector of K’un-L’un and sworn enemy of The Hand”. It’s pretty obvious that he puts up a front to impress others.
He thinks that focusing on the mission will make him impervious to criticism, and will gain him the respect of others. Power of Ambition characters like Danny seek approval and often put on a facade to make themselves seem worthy of that approval. Whether they be ninjas with a magic hand or more pedestrian characters like Michael Scott or David Brent.
Danny has a reason for this behavior that does evoke empathy- the only survivor when his family’s plane crashed in the Far East, the young Danny was taken in by an ancient order of Monks and trained to be a weapon. He effectively has been brainwashed rather than having developed true conviction. Such a tragic childhood means he is searching for people that will accept him and give him the love he hasn’t received since his parents’ death.
Danny is the one that brings together The Defenders- since he has the most knowledge of the enemy and their evil plan. He becomes the key to The Hand’s scheme which has been centuries in the making. Danny finally becomes the center of attention for good and bad reasons. He gets what he wants but has to learn humility and realize he has found, in The Defenders, the honest acceptance he has craved since he was an orphaned child.
For more examples of all the character types, you can purchase my in-depth e-books at the ETB shop, or you can read more articles on all the “Power Of…” types including James Bond, Doctor Who, Batman and Sherlock Holmes, every Tuesday.
There are also 9 pinterest boards full of character examples online. Check them out and let us know at ETBHelp@gmail.com if you have any other suggestions.