The Defenders finally debuted on Netflix last weekend, and the gritty MCU team-up certainly delivers a lot of the action and drama that fans expected from this dark and violent landscape. (All those fights, amirite?)It's a fast-paced crossover that brings all of our favorite street-level heroes together, but one of the most curious aspects of the show is that it's only eight episodes long, as opposed to the usual 13 installments the standalone shows get. For the most part, according to executive producer Marco Ramirez, the shorter season was simply due to conflicting schedules with Netflix's other Marvel series. He explained:
It was actually also a lot about schedule, which is another thing that eludes people. We knew that we needed to have Mike [Colter] in the chair in his own show, and we knew we needed to have Krysten [Ritter] on her own show by a certain date, so we knew that we had this much time to shoot, no matter what we shoot and no matter how many episodes we needed to shoot. That was one factor.
These characters and actors have their own shows to get back to, and Marvel has thus far done a commendable job of giving audiences a new season of vigilante content twice a year -- typically once in fall and once in spring. Fans have waited quite a while to see The Defenders assemble for the very first time, but it doesn't change the fact that shows like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones still need to continue slotting production starts to maintain that release schedule. With only a set amount of time to make The Defenders happen, Marco Ramirez thought eight episodes seemed like the right amount to tell this one cohesive story.
That said, it doesn't look like the folks at Marvel or Netflix had any issues with the shortened Defenders season length, which had to be nice. In Marco Ramirez's interview with Collider, he also explained that the number eight was ultimately decided upon because it was the best way to serve the story, from a written perspective, saying:
Netflix and Marvel were both very flexible, in terms of how many episodes I pitched them. I actually had the writers' room for a while before we came up with the number eight. And then, we went in and said, "We can do this in eight episodes," and they were all systems go on it. That was really a testament to them, to be honest. There was never a quota we were trying to fill. We just wanted to tell a story that was satisfying, and I think these eight episodes are satisfying.
Of course, the abridged season had another beneficial impact on The Defenders' story. Ramirze explained that one of the keys to pulling off a show like The Defenders involved maintaining high stakes for the characters -- even the ones we knew would survive. With less downtime for characters in the ensemble-filled eight episodes, the story has a ton of moving parts when compared to the other Marvel series, which helped keep the stakes higher for a longer period. After all, at the end of the day, this is a drama about superheroes, and it needs intensity to work.
The Defenders is now available to stream on Netflix, along with Daredevil, Iron Fist, and the rest of the Defenders solo shows. Let us know what you guys thought of the episode count on the next page, and check out what that big ending meant, as well as some of the season's most WTF moments. if you're looking for more up-to-date information on the major TV debuts coming in the next few months, then make sure to check out our summer TV premiere guide, as well as our fall TV premiere guide!