One of the biggest surprises of SDCC 2017 so far had to be the Hall H panel “Netflix: Marvel’s The Defenders.” Opening the show was the Board of Directors of Comic-Con who promised many surprises for the fans. Boy, was he not kidding!
After showing a quick clip of a timer counting down with audio snippets from each of the four heroes’ shows, Jeph Loeb came running out to talk to the audience. The usual SDCC notes to not film the screens and have children leave due to strong language were delivered by Loeb who expressed gratitude at being able to attend SDCC, and more specifically Hall H. “This is the first time Marvel television has been in this hall, for me to be up here I’m so grateful to all of you.” He’s right, as Netflix’s Marvel shows have mostly made appearances at New York Comic Con. Then a surprise, even to Loeb, dropped. Loeb was given the Ink Pot award for his work in comics and television!
“You gotta realize people like Spielberg and Joe Quesada get this, and I’m just a guy who’s here,” Loeb said. The crowd stood to a standing ovation and Loeb gave an emotional speech concluding, “If someone is going to wake you up from something tell them to wake you up from a nightmare, not your dream.”
The show carried on, though Loeb confessed his jokes and setup were all off. Loeb cracked about the first of the Marvel Netflix shows was about a guy “in a bad Ben Affleck movie.” In another quip, Loeb made light of a hero with a glowing fist. Loeb made it clear this would never have happened without Netflix being all in on the project from day one. “We needed someone to believe in us–Netflix said we’re in for 60 [episodes],” Loeb said.
The second surprise dropped at this point, when Jon Bernthal aka The Punisher ran out on stage to the delight of fans. “Frank is very much in my heart and I’m eternally grateful to get another crack at him.” Fans seemed to agree with their cheers as Bernthal said, “We’re going to do our best to get it right and I hope you guys dig it.” The lights dimmed and the audience was given the chance to see an excellent clip from the upcoming Punisher TV show.
Bernthal exited and the stars of The Defenders arrived to great cheers from the audience. The panel featured all the heroes from Netflix’s Marvel shows including Danny Rand, aka the Iron Fist (played by Finn Jones), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), and Matt Murdock aka Daredevil (Charlie Cox). Joining them were Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), Elektra (Elodie Yung) and series villain Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver). Loeb pointed out on the way was season 3 of Daredevil, a second season of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and, in a surprise Loeb said not even the actors knew, an Iron Fist season 2 was on the way. Finn Jones was clearly ecstatic, pumping his fist in the air as if happy to be given a chance to make right with a series so many were not too happy with.
Series show runner and writer Marco Ramirez then pointed out this was the most challenging writing he’s done in his career, “because the characters are so independent and the fan base is there for each one of those shows.”
Loeb proceeded to get thoughts and comments from all the actors on the stage. When Loeb reached Weaver, she was quick to point out her first time meeting the cast was on the stage at NYCC, but that she was already a huge fan of Daredevil. She made it clear the fifth Defender was important to her personally–“I’m a new Yorker and I love that NYC is one of the five Defenders and they also offered me a part I really couldn’t refuse. It’s a very interesting woman, a woman who has a lot of dealings with this lovely young lady, Elektra.” Weaver went on to say the relationship was “unusual and one of the most “interesting relationships I’ve ever had, on screen and off.”
Colter pointed out this show is all about the relationship between the characters, which ended up being a strong bond off screen too. Loeb was interested in how Ritter thought Jones approached working with folks like Daredevil and she made it clear Jones doesn’t get the costume or even his powers. “She takes the opportunity to make fun of what they’re doing, and make fun of Daredevil’s suit. I think Jessica Jones in Defenders brings a little attitude and sass and the funny.”
The conversation seemed to steer towards how this show, and how it utilises heroes, is a lot different from what we’ve seen before. Loeb pointed out this isn’t a team at all and that “They’re not going to a tower where there’s a big A on it.” Ramirez retorted, “This isn’t the kind of show where they have a headquarters.”
And with that—and some banter of course—Loeb teased the clip they’d show the audience. As if putting Jones through agony, Jones attempted to cut Loeb off and make him play the clip. It wasn’t working, but eventually, Sigourney Weaver stood up, put one hand on her hip, and Loeb gave in. The clip ended up being the entire first episode of The Defenders, to which the audience nearly lost their minds in excitement.