On August 18th, Netflix will be introducing their version of The Avengers to the world in the form of The Defenders.
This eight-episode, limited series brings together Charlie Cox's Daredevil, Mike Colter's Luke Cage, Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones and Finn Jones' Iron Fist in an adventure that sees them going up against The Hand and Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra.
Jeph Loeb is the guy who oversees a number of Marvel properties airing on broadcast and streaming services, including, of course, the Netflix series. In this interview, he looks at the tracks that had been laid on their individual series to bring the four characters together.
FHM: When you were producing these various shows, is The Defenders something you always kept in mind or did you keep the focus strictly on the series at hand?
Jeph Loeb: "Well, first of all, it isn't just my responsibility. It's the responsibility of a lot of very talented people, like Alan Fine and Dan Buckley and Joe Quesada in New York. And then our own team which just starts with Jim Chory, who's our head of production, and Karim Zreik, who looks after the day to day on the shows. But the short answer is everything is done with purpose. We are telling a very large canvas story that in many ways will culminate in The Defenders, but in many ways have to exist in their own world."
"And so we're expecting that people who are watching Luke Cage have maybe seen Jessica Jones, but we can't bet on that. We have to be able to tell a story which feels like it's of it's own world. Mike Colter said something really interesting, which is what you saw on Jessica Jones is Luke Cage from her POV. In his own show you see Luke Cage from Luke Cage's point of view. Which is why we moved the show to Harlem and why the show had such a diverse cast and why the show spoke about different things than Jessica Jones spoke to."
"So when we do get to The Defenders, it's going to feel different. But make no mistake about it, there is an engine that is driving towards that story. If you've been with us and you've watched all four series, after that you've now met all of them. So the next question is, what happens when they meet? That's the part that's interesting to us."
"It's not who's the big bad or how are their powers going to work or what's the action sequence that we're going to figure out. It's these are four people who have very different ways of looking at their lives. Now let's put them together and see what happens. And that's sort of the next adventure that's out there."
FHM: To expand on that then, when you set those shows up did you always think initially that it would be one season of each to get to The Defenders? Or did you think that you would need some room to breathe, maybe a second season here or there?
Jeph Loeb: "Oh no, I've been very clear about this. I went to Netflix and told them we we're doing a season of each show that would culminate in The Defenders. And they did something that was unprecedented in the history of television: they bought sixty hours of television. Five different series. And we walked out and went, 'Okay, now we've got to make them.'"
"The only thing that surprised us even more than that is when, after Daredevil appeared, we got a phone call that said, 'We want to do a second season of Daredevil and I said, 'Fantastic. See you in 2017.' And they were, like, 'No, we want it now.' We responded, 'No, we're telling one story that's going to go here,' to which they said, 'Well, now you're going to tell more story.'"
"So, knock wood, I am now hoping that everyone gets to tell their own stories. Very much like the Marvel movies, you can follow Captain America's story without ever seeing any of the Avengers films. It's just they're much richer if you do. Because look, let's be honest, if you're going to have two and a half hours to tell a story and you've got fourteen characters, not everybody is going to get to have their own story. What Netflix has afforded us is a chance to be able to tell individual stories about each of these characters. Each with their own casts. And then at the point where do finally get them together, hopefully you've come along for the ride. Or hopefully you're going to enjoy that particular event."