Who are Marvel’s Defenders and what are the origins?

The cast of Marvel's The Defenders on Netflix
The Defenders on Netflix features Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist

Today saw the launch of Netflix’s fifth Marvel-inspired series The Defenders, but who are they and what are the origins?

As has been very much publicized, The Defenders is an urban crime-fighting team made up of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist — but interestingly this isn’t the original line up from the comics.

In fact, the only character to have ever have been a Defender in the comics from this line up is Luke Cage.

The very first comic of The Defenders was launched December 1, 1971. The original line-up for The Defenders was made up of Dr Strange, Namor and Hulk.

The very first issue of The Defenders featuring the original line-up led by Dr. Steven Strange

In the original comic Dr. Strange formed the group in order to defend the earth from the extra-dimensional, demonic undying ones. To this end he manipulated Namor into aiding him and then recruited the Hulk.

Eventually The Silver Surfer would join the line-up.

In the intervening years between 1972 and 1986 the comics line-up of characters rotated and included the likes of Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hellcat, Gargoyle, Beast, the Son of Satan and Luke Cage and a huge number of part-time members.

The comic was retitled toward the close of its run to The New Defenders.

The concept got modified in 1993 to Secret Defenders. This new take on the title saw Doctor Strange assemble different teams for different missions.

The Defenders comic was created by Roy Thomas.

The last comic book run to feature The Defenders until recently was in 2011 and was written by Matt Fraction and included art by Terry Dodsen.

The original comic book run of Defenders saw the team fending off supernatural threats.

Despite its urban feel and grittier characters, the television incarnation will also have supernatural elements to it, which will have grown out of the individual shows.

For example we saw Electra brought back to life toward the end of Daredevil’s second season. She will feature in The Defenders as will The Hand, which is the criminal organisation that Iron Fist went up against.

To precede the Netflix series, Marvel Comics started a new run of The Defenders comic, which features the television shows line-up of characters.

It is getting close to its fifth issue as of writing and is penned by the fantastic Brian Michael Bendis.

The television series which launched today features Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Daredevil and will also have appearances by much-loved characters such as The Punisher, Electra and many more.

The big bad of the new series is played by the fantastic Sigourney Weaver.


Marvel’s The Defenders is streaming now on Netflix. 

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