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The next Marvel Netflix series to debut will be Luke Cage later this month. This is on the road to The Defenders, which will unite Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. It’s possible that those four characters will be the only Marvel superheroes to appear during The Defenders. However, there is also a chance of others showing up. Those odds increase if The Defenders gets a second and third season (especially if not all four of the original actors want to continue). So who are the Marvel Comics characters who would most likely appear on The Defenders, either in its debut season or later ones?
There are many mainstays of The Defenders comic book line-up who will definitely not appear. It’s unlikely that any of the original group of Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor and Silver Surfer will appear. The rights to the last three are fully or partially controlled by other studios. The same applies to the mutants – Beast, Iceman and Angel – who have been longtime members of the Defenders in the comics. So let’s take a look at 10 superhero characters who I think could eventually make their way to The Defenders on Netflix, in order of their likelihood of appearance.
We know that the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider is set to make his MCU debut this fall on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Additionally, Ghost Rider has been a member of the Defenders in the comics (though that was the Johnny Blaze version). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a part of the TV branch of Marvel Studios, under the auspices of Jeph Loeb. Loeb also is in charge of the Marvel Netflix shows, so a crossover is possible, but we have not seen anything of note transfer from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the Netflix shows so far. So it doesn’t seem likely. For one, logistics such as scheduling make it difficult. If Ghost Rider is a break out hit of AoS, though, there is a chance that he could be the exception. However, I still think the odds of Ghost Rider being a member are somewhat remote.
Dane Whitman was a regular member of the Avengers during the comics’ 1980s run (and appeared periodically before that). He was also a member of the Defenders for a time. The character seems unlikely to appear in the Avengers movie universe anytime soon. So he could be used for the Defenders. His powers do not require a lot of CGI, so he would fit The Defenders’ TV budget. However, he also seems somewhat unlikely because the hero is based on a modern version of a medieval knight. So that doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the Marvel Netflix shows. While there is still the possibility of a revamped take on Black Knight, I don’t think the chances are especially high.
Valkyrie was one of the longest serving members of the Defenders in the comics, so her appearance in the show at some point would be a nice tribute to the source material. She is a part of Asgardian mythology in the comics, so she would actually seem to be a great character to debut in Thor: Ragnarok. However, there has been no news of her inclusion. Given that we do not know that much about the movie, it still seems possible that Valkyrie would appear there. If she does, there is still chance she could appear in The Defenders on Netflix at some point. Still, given her Asgardian origins and possible future in the movie side of the MCU, I don’t think we can expect to see Valkyrie in the Defenders, even though she was an important member of the comic book team.
This is something of an “out there” choice, but it makes some sense in terms of what’s happened so far in the Marvel Netflix shows. In the comics, Kara Killgrave is the daughter of Zebediah Killgrave and developed many of his mind-control powers. She went by the names of Purple Girl, Purple Woman and Persuasion. She was never a member of the Defenders and was mostly affiliated with the Canadian hero team Alpha Flight. So she’s not someone who fits the “Defenders” history box. However, after Kilgrave memorably appeared in Jessica Jones, it seems entirely possible that he could have a daughter out there. Plus, her inclusion in The Defenders would create some interesting tension with Jessica, even if Kara has the right intentions. So while I wouldn’t say Purple Woman’s appearance is at all likely, it would be a cool and unexpected choice.
Like Purple Woman, Jessica Drew doesn’t have a history being on the Defenders in the comics. So that lowers her chances. She has mostly been associated, especially recently, with Avengers teams. Still, there is only an Avengers movie every couple of years, so while Marvel Studios may have future plans for Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman, there is a possibility that she could get utilized by one of the other live-action Marvel properties, such as The Defenders. Jessica Drew has a history with S.H.I.E.L.D., so Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might seem like the more probable destination. However, that show has used Mockingbird in a similar fashion, so that might make Jessica Drew head to the Defenders. I think if Drew did appear, she probably wouldn’t go by “Spider-Woman” since Spider-Man still isn’t a firmly established part of the MCU.
Many might expect the Punisher to appear higher on this list. After all, the character has already appeared in The Netflix Daredevil season two. Jon Bernthal was lauded for his portrayal of the role and earned a solo series for the Punisher. However, I think that series might make the Punisher’s inclusion in the Defenders less likely. There may be scheduling issues and the desire from Marvel TV brass to pursue Frank’s own stories. There certainly might be a cameo by Frank Castle at some point in the first season of The Defenders, but I wouldn’t really expect him to be a huge part of the team. The Punisher could be a bigger part of The Defenders in future seasons, but Frank really isn’t much of a team player. So I put him in the mid-point of the list.
Moon Knight isn’t a household name character, but he does have a devoted fan base. Also, it isn’t like Luke Cage or Iron Fist were hugely popular characters either prior to them getting Netflix shows. The reason I would rank Moon Knight so high, though, is that the character would seem tailor-made to fit the visual and storytelling style of the Netflix shows. Marc Spector is a wealthy playboy who battles crime without powers (sound familiar?), but he also struggles with a personality disorder. So there would not need to be much budgeted for Moon Knight’s powers. While his all-white costume might not really fit the aesthetics of The Defenders, some tinkering with the outfit could make that a non-issue. A central or tangential appearance in The Defenders could also set Moon Knight up for a solo Netflix series.
A great deal of what I said about Moon Knight could apply to Nighthawk. They are similar heroes, so it’s probably an either/or scenario with Moon Knight and Nighthawk on The Defenders. Both would be redundant, and the similar names might be confusing for a non-comics viewer if they both appeared. Both also have current solo series with Marvel Comics. While Moon Knight has a slightly larger visibility within the comics world, Nighthawk has some advantages, too. Nighthawk is one of the longest-serving member of the team, and he is mostly associated with the Defenders team. So he has a close connection to their legacy. Plus, there is little chance that any other show/movie is going to use Nighthawk, so he is also a character that the Defenders could have total autonomy over. Still, Nighthawk is a pretty fringe character, so there might be more chance that he (or his secret identity Kyle Richmond) appears in an Easter-egg type background character or detail.
Misty Knight is appearing in the upcoming Luke Cage series (played by Simone Missick). She might not at first seem like a central character to a superhero team. In the comics, though, Knight has a bionic arm that gives her increased strength. It does not appear that Knight has that arm in Luke Cage – at least in the promotional material or previews. Perhaps she has an incident during the season and loses an arm. If she gets a “super” arm, her strength and background in the police could make her a valuable part of the Defenders. Even if the producers of The Defenders do not go the direction of the super arm (perhaps thinking it too similar to Coulson’s robot hand in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), I still expect to see Misty Knight a fair amount in The Defenders series, whether she is a “member” of the team or not.
Trish Walker was a major part of season one of Jessica Jones, where she was played by Rachael Taylor. She also has a secret hero identity in the comics as Hellcat. Hellcat had a long run as a member of the Defenders, so she seems to check all of the boxes that appear. Also, the current line-up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones skews male heavy. Having Hellcat could balance the gender make-up of the team. I think there is a very good chance that Trish Walker appears in The Defenders. However, the producers of the shows may choose to save her transition to Hellcat until Jessica Jones season two. If so, then I would expect that Hellcat would be a major part of a second season (if ordered by Netflix) for The Defenders.
What do you think? Do you agree that any of these could make their way to The Defenders on Netflix? Which other Defenders (or non-Defenders Marvel characters) could make an appearance at some point?