Finally, after four Marvel comics heroes rose up on Netflix in new adaptations, they are finally colliding in a highly-anticipated team-up series. For those who have stuck with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist there are plenty of hints and nods in this new series that serve as fun rewards. The Marvel easter eggs in The Defenders harken back to the origin stories, the original comics, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are spoilers for The Defenders Season 1 below, so hang up your cape and sit back down on the couch if you haven't finished the episodes yet. That said, the references are broken down below by episode, so scrolling with caution is an option if you want to read along.
Unfortunately, there is still no mention of Peter Parker — though I suppose the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming might explain why the New York native might be uninvolved. Plus, anyone who lives in the area knows that NYC public transportation has been a disaster this summer, and that might make getting to and from Queens a hassle.
As early reviews warned, the four heroes do not team up immediately. Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, Matt Murdock, and Luke Cage are reestablished at the beginning of The Defenders, and then one-on-one interactions build to the first group fight. Those early meetings are a highlight of the first few episodes, as they allow for more character development.
As for references that only the most savvy Marvel fans can catch, here are all the Easter Eggs you can spot in the new series:
Episodes 1 & 2
In the very first moments of the new series, Danny and Colleen fight a woman whose identity is hidden at first — but turns out to be a newly resurrected Elektra.
When Luke Cage comes home from Seagate, characters from his world like Bobby Fish and Candace Miller are mentioned. Two characters from previous series, Marci and Turk, make an appearance in Episode 2. Luke questions Turk while looking for someone connected to both crime in Harlem and The Hand. Meanwhile Marci (of Daredevil) is still with Foggy, which is delightful to hear.
After what appears to be an earthquake, someone calls in to Trish's radio show and says that he worries it was "the Incident" again. He's talking about the Chitauri invasion from The Avengers. Do you think everyone thinks that aliens attacked the Staten Island Ferry during the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming as well?
Episodes 3 & 4
The ball really starts rolling as our heroes start meeting in the next two episodes. "Let me know when they fit you for a costume," chaffs Jessica. Even Luke sarcastically refers to the group as "superfriends" — which would be a DC reference rather than a Marvel reference, but still funny.
The best Easter Egg comes in the form of the main man himself. While Jessica is pursuing Matt in Manhattan, Stan Lee's face can be seen on a Link NYC kiosk advertisement. Those are our new phone booths, essentially, if you haven't been to New York in a few years.
Not only does Elektra don something that resembles her comic book costume, but she is referred to again as a/the Black Sky.
When the group first meets, it's at a company called Midland Circle, which has been mentioned before on Iron Fist and Daredevil. They are affiliated with both The Hand and Roxxon Oil, another organization that lurks throughout the MCU as well.
Episodes 5 & 6
Bakuto, the Hand leader and former sensei to Colleen Wing, returns from the dead in this episode. His colleague Sowande mentions Killgrave in this episode. Episode 6 closes up a literal plot hole from Daredevil Season 2 — the endless pit in the ground that became the building site for Midland Circle.
At Karen's office, the framed newspaper from the "Battle of New York" (the Chitauri attack again) is still displayed on the wall. There's also a lovely meeting of the minor characters that begins as the four heroes start to gather their loved ones for protection. Trish, Karen, Misty, Malcolm, and Foggy are suddenly all in a room together. Claire jokes about being a sidekick.
Then, when Elektra kills Alexandra and takes over, she uses her signature weapons. Are you geeking out yet?
Episodes 7 & 8
In the final stretch, things really get popping. First of all, there's a dragon under New York City. The very same dragon that Danny defeated, allegedly. DA Blake Tower, who appeared in Daredevil and Luke Cage, is briefly mentioned. The Captain says that vigilantes don't have jurisdiction — which can be a Captain America: Civil War reference if you want it to be.
While the team is fighting the final fight, Karen and Trish bond over previous battles from Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Karen also get a call from Mitchell Ellison, her boss at the Bulletin.
Colleen dons her signature white attire to face off against Bakuto. One of the biggest things to happen, in terms of comic book lore, is Misty Knight losing her arm. The Marvel character famously has a bionic replacement, so look forward to that in future series.
The last few sequences of Episode 8 show Jessica finally restoring her Alias Investigations window sign. She's back in business. Misty is recovering at a hospital that Danny owns — do you think someone there knows anything about bionic arms? She and Colleen bond, foreshadowing their friendship from the comics. Meanwhile, Danny is perched on a building the way Matt used to, wearing jacket that nods to his yellow and green comic book costume.
Finally, stick around through the credits for a first look at The Punisher.