The Marvel superhero team-up that's been three years in the making is finally here, but to get the full impact of The Defenders, fans will have to have watched the four standalone series, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. In case you don't have the time to binge four whole shows before jumping into The Defenders on Friday, August 18, or just if you need a reminder on what happened on all those series, I've got you covered. Before you start up The Defenders, here's a quick cheat sheet to let you know what everyone has been up to before joining forces in the new series.
Matt Murdock / Daredevil
The only hero to get two seasons worth of backstory before The Defenders, Matt Murdock's storyline will likely be the most pivotal to the new team-up series given that he's spent most of his time fighting against the big bad, The Hand.
After losing his vision as a child, Murdock's other senses heightened to a supernatural degree, allowing him to sense his surroundings with astounding accuracy. He also trained in martial arts under the tutelage of a blind sensei named Stick, and used his abilities to bring vigilante justice to Hell's Kitchen under the name Daredevil. By day, he attempts to get justice as a lawyer.
When we last saw Murdock, he had come up against the full force of The Hand. At the end of Daredevil Season 2, the mystical ninjas attacked Murdock along with his superpowered pals Stick and Elektra. After it's revealed to Elektra that she's actually a powerful tool of The Hand called Black Sky, she sacrifices herself to save Murdock. However, as the season ends, we see The Hand resurrecting Elektra, so expect to see her back in The Defenders.
The Defenders will be the first time Jessica Jones will go up against The Hand — she's kind of had her hands full with the mind-controlling psychopath Kilgrave up until recently. On Jessica Jones, we met the alcoholic, PTSD-stricken superhero/private eye as she sought to take down the man who had controlled her and used her for his own immoral ends.
When we last saw Jessica, she had finally succeeded in killing Kilgrave by pretending to be under his control long enough to get close and snap his neck. But things didn't end so neatly between her and fellow Defender Luke Cage. The two ended their romantic relationship when Cage found out Jones killed his wife Reva Connors while under Kilgrave's control. Seeing how the two former lovers interact now that they're coming together in a super team is something most fans are really anticipating.
The hero of Harlem, viewers actually first met Luke Cage in Jessica Jones when he teamed up and developed a relationship with Jones before leaving her side when he found out about her role in his wife's murder. Cage has unbreakable skin and superhuman strength as a result of a botched lab experiment while he was in prison. Though he prefers to lay low, he has been forced into the role of a superhero after a drug lord threatened innocent people in his neighborhood in Luke Cage.
When last we saw him, Cage had escaped prison to take down the powerful villain Stryker. He also developed a relationship with nurse Claire Temple, who is the only character to have appeared in all four of the Defenders lead-up series. In the end, Cage is taken back into custody.
Danny Rand / Iron Fist
Like Daredevil, Danny Rand also has prior experience with The Hand. After training with Buddhist monks for fifteen years, Rand became an expert in martial arts and also gained the ability to centralize his chi into his fist to throw superhumanly forceful punches, earning him his name Iron Fist.
In Iron Fist, Rand faced off against an evil businessman named Harold Meachum who took control of his family's lucrative corporation while he was away, and turned it into a front for The Hand. When last we saw him, Danny had defeated Meachum with the help of his martial artist ally Colleen Wing, and the two traveled back to the land where Rand was trained, K'un-Lun. However, when they arrive, they find it littered with scores of dead bodies.