Krysten Ritter. Èlodie Young. Rosario Dawson. Jessica Henwick. Rachael Taylor. Debra Ann Woll. Simone Missick. Sigourney freaking Weaver. These are the women of Marvel and Netflix's The Defenders, and living proof that Marvel might finally be listening to its female fans. Yes, Tessa Thompson kicking ass in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer is promising. Of course female Marvel fans are champing at the bit for Brie Larson's Captain Marvel. And hell yes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's secondary plot about the bonds of sisterhood was a fantastic amuse-bouche. But the women on Netflix's latest miniseries are walking the walk and the talking the talk — right now.
"I think what’s shifted somewhat is that the female audience is now standing up and saying I want to be heard," says head of Marvel TV, Jeph Loeb, when we speak at San Diego Comic-Con. "There was always belief in that audience. And so, I think more and more the people who might look at comics as a boy’s club should really understand it’s not a boy’s club, it’s not a girl’s club, it’s a human club."
Sure, it's a "human" club — but it's one that could use more than a few more complex, kickass women in its ranks, on both the big and small screens.
And to be fair, Marvel TV is already leaps and bounds ahead of the film scape, having delivered Jessica Jones, a series about Ritter's acerbic, fierce, and utterly fantastic female superhero and a woman who quickly became the face of feminism in the fandom. But now, The Defenders is bringing together the beloved Ms. Jones alongside fantastic supporting characters like Missick's badass detective Misty Night (first seen in Luke Cage), Colleen Wing (widely regarded as the only good thing about Iron Fist), and Dawson's Claire Temple to help the titular Defenders face off against The Hand. On the more evil side of the coin sit Young, returning as Elektra (via means you'll have to watch the series to understand), and the woman, the myth, the legend, Sigourney Weaver, pulling the strings that eventually force the Defenders to band together.
Though The Defenders is, at times, a bit difficult to follow because it has so many damn characters, the sheer breadth of female characters is still extremely exciting (and so is one scene in which Weaver drops her decorum to throw a few kicks and punches herself). And it would seem that the actors working on the series tend to agree.
"I worked with [Krysten] on Vamps and Elodie, I worked with almost every day [on The Defenders]," says Weaver. "I think they’re both such amazing actors and people, and I really applaud Marvel for having so many strong women characters in their universe, and particularly, I think, in these shows."
For Young, getting to work on a series with characters like Jessica Jones is basically a dream come true.
"It’s [Jessica's] attitude — it’s almost French," she says with a laugh. "It's like, 'I’m not happy to be here and I’m not going to hide it I’m just going to say it.' So I like that about her character, and she’s got her own agenda. I like this side of a woman."
And while this series and its deep bench of kickass ladies (both good and evil) is a something to be admired, women who love Marvel are no doubt hoping that this group is only the beginning.