For some reason, the energy just felt different. There was this sense that we were about to see something very special in Hall H and the energy from the crowd was palpable even before anyone came out to announce that the panel was about to begin.
The panel in question was for The Defenders, Marvel’s mashup of the heroes they debuted on their individual Netflix series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist). Each show has seen a high level of success but this team up has been long awaited and the crowd was ready for their sneak peek.
Jeph Loeb, Executive Vice President of Marvel Television, moderated the panel but before he began he was presented with a special award for all that he has contributed to Comic-Con and his overall legacy within the industry. This wasn’t a moment he was expecting and he becomes visibly choked up. As he’s being given his award the crowd gives him a rousing standing ovation, one of many that would be happening through the panel. After the roars die down he promises that we are in for many surprises and after he makes this statement the first of his surprises walla out on stage.
Jon Bernthal, The Punisher himself, comes out on stage to thunderous applause. It’s clear he’s already earned his fan favorite status. After greeting Jeph Loeb and thanking him for the opportunity to play the role, he tells him “I think we have something we need to show these guys.” It’s clear from there that we are about to get a scene from the upcoming Netflix series, The Punisher.
The scene plays like a greatest hits of kills. It displays how lethal he is and gives us a sense that this series will not be holding back. Not much is given away about the plot but it’s a fine introduction to what is destined to be a cool series.
After the clip is over, Bernthal exits the stage and now it’s time to introduce the players that make The Defenders happen. First on stage is showrunner Marco Ramirez and followed by Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing. Deborah Ann Woll who plays Karen Page and Elodie Yung who plays Elektra in Daredevil come on stage next.
The next guest to come on stage get a resounding and roaring standing ovation from the crowd – Sigourney Weaver. She takes it all on with as much humility as you would expect from a professional. From there, we get our 4 Defenders. Up first is Finn Jones (Iron Fist) followed by Mike Colter (Luke Cage), with the heaviest applause for Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and Charlie Cox (Daredevil).
Now begins the Q&A. Jeph lets us know that Daredevil is set for season 3. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are gearing up for season 2 and Finn Jones got the good news that Iron Fist was officially renewed for season 2. The actor is very exuberant about the news and receives a high five from Colter after the good news.
During the line of questioning it’s very clear that New York is the fifth Defender. They express their love for the area and that it acts as its own character because it’s very much in the DNA of the show. All of the actors seem to share this sentiment about being able to work there.
The questions were a bit routine (how do you feel about your character, what is up next for you on this show, where are you headed, etc) but it’s soon clear that the line of questioning is a ruse to cover up another surprise. When Loeb asks the four leads what it’s like working together, Finn Jones deflects by saying can’t we just show these guys something from the show? Loeb hesitates and then Charlie Cox chimes in by saying Jon Bernthal introduced a surprise so why can’t they? Loeb hesitates some more and this leads to Sigourney Weaver standing up with her hands on her hips as of to say, I’m the vet so you better give these people what they want. Her action gets roars from the crowd and finally, Loeb relents. He tells us we are about to see a clip from the show and that clip happens to be the same length as the first episode of The Defenders.
This announcement makes the crowd lose their minds and while we’re all still reacting he says to roll the clip, the lights go out and before you know it the Netflix logo is on the screen and the episode is about to begin.
I’m not sure I can give too much away about what I saw. It was a fun but very strict panel in terms of secrecy but I will say fans won’t be disappointed. The cool thing is the individual shows are so tonally different from each other and it shows during their particular scenes of this episode. When Jessica Jones is on screen, you feel you are watching her show, and when Matt Murdock is on, you feel like you’re back on Daredevil. It’s clear these styles will merge but I definitely loved that each character still maintained their own identity.
The pilot sets up things nicely by showing their individual stories before an event at the end of the episode makes it clear why their paths will cross. The final moments are wonderfully executed and actually gave me goosebumps. I’m already eagerly anticipating August 18.
When it was over we were in for one more surprise and that was an extended trailer for the series, which has since been released online. If you’ve seen it, you already know what you’re in for but after it was over it was another moment that had the crowd on their feet.
In terms of genuine surprise and excitement, this was the best panel of the convention so far. The crowd reaction to the first episode was overwhelmingly positive and I think you will share this sentiment when you set off to binge The Defenders on August 18th on Netflix.