Netflix kept the identity of Sigourney Weaver's Defenders villain top secret in the promotional run-up to the premiere of its superhero mash-up miniseries. Although fans knew the name of the show's antagonist — Alexandra — that was about it. Is Alexandra a pseudonym for a villain from the Marvel comics? Is she a brand new creation for the screen? What does she want? Spoilers for the first three episodes of The Defenders after this point! Now, several episodes into The Defenders, viewers finally have all of the answers. Just kidding! Still basically nothing is known about Alexandra other than her penchant for duvet-like jackets, classical music, and Turkish cuisine. But actually, those latter two attributes bring up an intriguing question about the big baddie: How old is The Defenders' Alexandra, exactly?
The first hint that the leader of The Hand isn't just the stylish, contemporary businesswoman she appears to be comes in the series' second episode, when Alexandra is treated to a private concert of a string quartet performing a piece by Brahms. The curator foolishly tries to educate Alexandra on how Brahms' choice of key was influenced by Beethoven, but Alexandra contradicts her: "It's not influence; it was a direct response. All Brahms wanted was to prove that he could do it, too. He was petty like that."
The surety with which Alexandra corrects the other woman, and the way she phrases her response, almost make it seem like had first-hand experience of the circumstances surrounding Brahms' composition; almost like she was there. "It's just stuff I picked up along the way," she shrugs when praised for her knowledge of music history. But viewers probably suspect that this isn't just a figure of speech on Alexandra's part.
In the third episode, another curious line that seems like a throwaway could indicate Alexandra's great age. When she compliments a Turkish restaurant owner, she tells him the dish is even better than the food she ate in Constantinople itself. "I think you mean Istanbul, ma'am," the man replies. "Constantinople… this is its ancient name." Alexandra acknowledges her "mistake," but fans must know that her specific use of terminology was no mere accident or ignorance on her part.
So how old would these anachronisms make Alexandra? It's impossible to be certain at this point, but I can definitively place her somewhere in the 19th century based on her comments about Brahms. The German composer reached his pinnacle of fame late in that century, from about 1876 (when he completed the C-minor symphony Alexandra was listening to) through about 1890. 1876 was 141 years ago now, which means it's safe to assume that Alexandra is at least 200 years old in The Defenders — but she could be much older.
The Constantinople reference is harder to pin down; it could corroborate the age range set down by the Brahms comment, since the name wasn't officially changed to Istanbul until 1930. But it could also imply a much greater life span than that, given that the city had been known as Constantinople ever since 330 AD, when it was first changed from its original name, Byzantium (as it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans).
Forget a couple of centuries; by the sound of it, Alexandra may have been around for closer to a millenium. The reference to Constantinople certainly seems to imply that she has been around since at least the Middle Ages, if not before. If that's the case, then Alexandra will be a much more formidable opponent for the Defenders than they may assume based on their first impression of her. They should underestimate Alexandra at their own peril.