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A video game for the Defenders

A video game for the Defenders

We saw the new miniseries on Netflix … and imagined the video game that could represent it

Marvel has got a taste for team-ups. Come to think of it, we really live in a magical age: up to ten years ago, seeing certain superheroes in the cinema or on television was an unbridled dream, but today, thanks to technology, it is absolutely normal. Indeed, some might say – and they wouldn’t be completely wrong! – that superheroes are even saturating the market. It’s a bit rarer to see them interact with each other, but even then they are making great strides: on the crossovers Marvel and Disney are basing an entire multi-billion dollar Cinematic Universe and now some characters also appear in films dedicated to a completely different hero. It is a universe that has slowly flowed into television, first timidly with Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, then more blatantly on Netflix with the miniseries dedicated to “street level” heroes: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and, finally, Iron Fist. At a certain point, Marvel has decided to bring together these tormented heroes in a single miniseries entitled The Defenders: eight episodes that debuted on the now famous digital platform and that lay the foundations for their future adventures. We have watched the series from start to finish and, on the notes of the special that we dedicated to Stranger Things a few weeks ago, we decided to offer you our opinion and we imagined what could be a potential video game on The Defenders.

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The television miniseries that you will find on Netflix brings together for the first time the superheroes “by chance” who live in New York and operate especially in the neighborhoods of Harlem and ****’s Kitchen, but in the Marvel comics the Defenders team has very different origins and members. It is in fact Doctor Strange who summons the Incredible Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner to fight the interdimensional technomancer Yandroth in the first issue of Marvel Feature of December 1971: in that adventure the three founded the Defenders and from that moment on they occasionally reunite to face above all supernatural threats together with various allies such as Valkyria and Silver Surfer. The team changes lineups frequently over the years, including numerous heroes and anti-heroes, including Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, albeit at different times and long after founding. Marvel has recently launched a new magazine, entitled The Defenders, to ride the wave of the TV series and in fact the line-up also includes Jessica Jones who in the comics, for the uninitiated, has started a family with Luke Cage. However, the paper versions of these characters are very different from those that appeared on TV.

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In the Netflix series, in fact, it is The Hand that forces the four heroes to fight together: this sect has given Daredevil a lot of trouble in the two seasons of his series and has become an even more concrete threat in the recent first season of Iron Fist. In The Defenders, The Hand is preparing for a decisive attack and our protagonists, together with their allies, must prevent it from destroying New York, but first they must discover its secrets and, above all, settle their differences. Anyone who has seen the anthological series that precede The Defenders, will know that these heroes are decidedly human and have very difficult temperaments, in particular the detective Jessica Jones: unlike the cinema films or other Marvel TV series, The Defenders – as well as the other series on Netflix – it’s pretty violent and over the top. And perhaps this is also why the links with the Marvel Cinematic Universe are minimal: in The Defenders we talk little and nothing about the Avengers or the SHIELD, so you can enjoy the series without having to watch each movie first. If you haven’t seen at least the second season of Daredevil and the first of Iron Fist, however, you will understand very little of the story.

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The fact that no one thinks of calling the Avengers, Tony Stark or the SHIELD – which at this point has been revamped – to defeat a sect of criminals who have dug a giant hole underground is perhaps the minor problem of a miniseries that there. he enjoyed it but he could give something more. The screenwriters have learned to better dose the episodes – eight are ideal, thirteen were too many – but the director arrives tired at the finish line and, after the bang of the sixth episode, shows two slightly subdued endings. The fault is certainly of the antagonists, and in fact it is with them that we want to begin our analysis: The Hand is an enemy that the series has not been able to identify completely, significantly reducing its charisma. Am I ninja? Underworld? Business men? All this and even more? It is above all their leaders, who are also the real villains of the series, who have not convinced us. Madame Gao remains perhaps the most interesting, but the aura of mystery that surrounds her also begins to tire. The others – Bakuto, Sowande and Murakami – are just talk and badges: they conspire, promise who knows what, but then leave the time they find. Alexandra, their not-so-undisputed leader, was perhaps the biggest disappointment: in this case, the legendary Sigourney Weaver (Alien) was completely wasted playing a bland puppeteer to say the least. More convincing Elektra, on the other hand, returning from the second season of Daredevil together with almost all the supporting characters of the other heroes: in The Defenders there is also a bit of space for Foggy, Karen, Patty, Stick, Misty Knight and especially Colleen Wing .

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The latter could be considered almost a member of the team, given the decisive role it plays throughout the series, but after all, Iron Fist is the real prequel to The Defenders, as the petulant Danny Rand constantly reminds us. To be honest, in the new Marvel miniseries he has adjusted the shot on the highly criticized character of Iron Fist and here the immortal warrior of K’un-Lun takes on a more mature starring role, even if the actor who plays him – Finn Jones, the Loras Tyrell from Game of Thrones – doesn’t quite fit the bill. However, it is the interactions between the four heroes that make The Defenders a very enjoyable and special miniseries. The writers skilfully worked on the bond between Danny and Luke, great friends in the comics, and played with character differences – and martial! – by Iron Fist and Daredevil. However, it was the sparkling exchanges of the three protagonists with the sarcastic Jessica Jones (an increasingly fit Krysten Ritter) that really amused us, as was to be expected. Also good Charlie Cox – now perfectly at ease in the role of the blind lawyer and tormented with a double life – and Mike Colter, even if the director could avoid the stereotypical hip-hop songs every time Luke Cage enters the scene. On the action front, however, we lacked the choreography of the first two seasons of Daredevil a bit, but we are light years ahead of the dull one of Iron Fist, a series that we can officially consider the weakest of the bunch in every respect. As we said, however, the series loses a few hits in the final episode, where fights abound instead of common sense: after the inevitable final clash, The Defenders lays very interesting foundations for the next adventures of our heroes, even if chronologically the next series to appear on Netflix will be the one dedicated to the controversial Punisher.

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Well, if The Defenders were a video game, it could be nothing more than a scrolling fighting game. We have thought about it and rethought it, but it seemed to us the most apt genre to videogame the exploits of the four anti-heroes seen on Netflix. The scrolling fighting game genre unfortunately belongs to the past and in recent times it has been substantially replaced by frantic third-person action games: sure, give Daredevil to Iron Fist in the hands of Platinum Games and see what they combine, but still we could not say it for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, as they are far less agile. Even in television series, their super strength is represented through slow, clunky fighting styles that wouldn’t lend themselves to an action game at all, but would fit neatly into the archetypal dynamics of the old two-dimensional scrolling fighting games where players could choose between lesser characters. lethal but very agile and others very slow but tremendously powerful. Sure, a 2D scrolling brawler in 2017 might seem out of place, so we thought of one of the latest genre video games we’ve really enjoyed: Gekido. The game, developed by the Italian studio Naps Team, was released in 2000 for PlayStation and excellently represented the genre in an only partially three-dimensional setting.

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Players could fight by chaining various types of attacks, picking up weapons or other objects to hit enemies, and charging a special indicator that allowed the use of a devastating special move. By improving the mechanics – Gekido had its nice flaws, while still being a lot of fun – and by adapting the structure and gameplay appropriately, we would have a great foundation on which to build a video game inspired by The Defenders. The story mode could resume the events of the TV series or tell a completely new story, perhaps changing some stages depending on the hero chosen. In multiplayer mode, then, you could dynamically connect the attacks and, perhaps, use some specific combined special shots, a bit like what happened in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers or in the recent Mutants in Manhattan, the Platinum Games title dedicated to Ninja Turtles. It would not be bad if each stage guaranteed a minimum of alternative exploration, perhaps with secret bosses to fight by satisfying certain requirements; moreover, as happened in Gekido, there should be a competitive mode in which you can face the CPU or friends in a sort of brawler to encounters. Obviously we are imagining a video game that may never see the light of day, but hoping costs nothing, and so we ask you: what would be your ideal Defenders game?