By: Bill Sheary
With projects like Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 due out it’s going to be a busy year for Marvel at the movie theatres. But just as the MCU continues to rolls on the big screen, the studio’s Netflix series are also marching on. Iron Fist, the latest show, will debut in March, to be followed by The Defenders, a sort of mini-Avengers project that will unite Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist as a crime-fighting team. There could be other characters involved as well, such as Elektra and Punisher, but the bigger questions about the series concern the villains.
We don’t know too much about which Marvel comics bad guys the Defenders will be taking on, but these are a few candidates.
Wilson Fisk was the head villain in the first season of Daredevil, and the portrayal by Vincent D’Onofrio earned raves from critics. And since the character wasn’t killed off, many have expected that he’ll return to the Netflix branch of the Marvel empire at one point or another. It’s been reported that there seems to be a growing chance that he will be involved with the third season of Daredevil (likely in 2018), though it’s always possible that he could be part of an effort to combat the Defenders as well. D’Onofrio has tweeted that there is “no chance” of this happening, but it’s not as if we’d expect him to confirm his involvement before the news became public anyway.
It’s a surprise we haven’t seen Bullseye yet. Charlie Cox, who plays Daredevil, has lobbied for the character to appear given that he’s an iconic Daredevil rival. Bullseye was played by Colin Farrell in the 2003 Daredevil film with Ben Affleck, and an online slot game based on the movie still puts the character in front of countless fans. Daredevil has never been as popular as he is now so it isn’t surprising to see him featured on online gaming platforms. Having popular heroes like Daredevil along with their greatest villains is a huge draw for fans and is one of the reasons why these slots are among the most popular and entertaining games around. While gaming companies realize the importance of including Bullseye, we can only hope the show runners will see it as well. Having Daredevil and The Defenders without Bullseye feels a little bit like a Gotham franchise without the Joker. If he eventually arrives it’s likely that he might also be destined for Daredevil’s third season.
Cheng will be played by Lewis Tan as the primary villain in Iron Fist, although it has also been stated that this series will have the most villains of any Marvel Netflix show to date. He’s expected to be a pretty direct counterpart to Iron Fist, and in the comics plays the role of a sort of focused hunter who wants to take down the Iron Fist and deliver him to the mysterious, monstrous master named Ch’i-Lin. This makes it possible that Ch’i-Lin will also be a villain as we move toward The Defenders, though the creature is a bit more supernatural than most of what we’ve seen in the Netflix series so far.
One thing we do know about The Defenders is that the head villain will supposedly be played by Sigourney Weaver. That doesn’t mean these other male characters might not be in play, but it means we should expect a female menace as well. Viper, a one-time head of Hydra known for assassinating her enemies with both poison and martial arts, has been suggested as the likeliest role for Weaver. This is partly because she would serve as a nice link between the cinematic MCU projects and the Defenders (given her ties to Hydra) as we head into Infinity War, which is expected to rope in characters from across the MCU.
To finish with a popular pick, Mephisto has been mentioned as a likely villain to take on the Defenders for various reasons. For one thing, TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced Ghost Rider, to whom Mephisto is closely linked in the comics. For another, Iron Fist is expected to touch more on mystical and supernatural elements than previous Netflix series, which opens the door for a demonic presence capable of performing magic. Finally, Mephisto’s appearance as a Satan-like figure from a sort of underworld might just make for the ideal adversary for heroes who are primarily defending Hell’s Kitchen in New York. Mephisto may be the likeliest of this bunch to appear, with some having suggested that the character could even be made female and played by Weaver.
Look for Marvel’s The Defenders to run on Netflix sometime soon in mid-2017.