There's no such thing as a vacation when you're a caretaker of New York City. Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand have had their fair share of individual struggles, but nothing compares to the threat that brings them all together for their team-up series, The Defenders. They'll have to set their individual struggles aside, which range from getting thrown in prison to finding out that the mystical hidden city that gave Iron Fist his hand power has vanished. When The Defenders takes place, the wounds from the heroes' individual struggles are still fresh. But with a larger threat looming over New York, there's no time to worry about what brought them to this point.
The mini-series crossover event has been confirmed to take place a few months after the various series leading up to it — but that doesn't really solidify any timeline. A couple of actors from the series have revealed the length of the time jumps between when we last saw them and when The Defenders begins, which could provide an accurate starting point. Assuming that all of the Defenders series take place in a chronological order — which it seems that they do — Jessica Jones has had a very long break and Iron Fist has barely had time to catch his breath.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Iron Fist's Jessica Henwick revealed some details about where her character Colleen Wing will be in The Defenders. "We find [Colleen] a month after we left her," she said. "It’s really interesting she hasn’t been able to deal with the emotional trauma she dealt with in Iron Fist." So while The Defenders takes place only a month after the events of Iron First — the most recent solo series — other heroes have had some extra time to get their own lives in order before having to save New York... again.
Charlie Cox, who plays Matt Murdock, explained in a separate Entertainment Weekly interview that although Daredevil has had a few extra months to himself, he's still reeling from trauma. "Well, it’s been a few months since the end of Season 2," he explained. "I think it’s been quite a challenging few months for him. He took the death of Elektra very badly — I think he feels responsible for that."
While Daredevil's most recent season dropped in March of 2016, less time than that has passed for the characters. That suggests that, though these Marvel series may have been spaced out over the course of over two years, all the action may have happened within a year's time.
The Defender who has had the longest break from the screen is Jessica Jones, who was last seen in her own series in late 2015, preceding Daredevil Season 2. It's not clear exactly how long ago Luke Cage Season 1 took place, but when The Defenders begins, he'll still be serving time in Seagate. So again, The Defenders is not making much of a time jump.
But there's no more time for rest and recuperation. Whatever traumas these heroes are carrying from their past — whether they're from their childhood or last week — they're going to need to set them aside when evil brings them together.