As production on Marvel’s Netflix series The Defenders looms closer, the directing team is being assembled, and they’ve chosen a terrific filmmaker to kick things off. Per Marvel, S.J. Clarkson will be helming the first two episodes of The Defenders and will serve as an executive producer on the first installment of the eight-episode miniseries. The filmmaker is no stranger to Marvel series, as she did a terrific job directing the first two episodes of Jessica Jones, which still stands as the best show Marvel has released thus far. Clarkson has also helmed episodes of Vinyl, Orange Is the New Black, and Dexter, but giving her the reigns of the first two episodes of The Defenders is a pretty terrific choice, as she’ll get to set the aesthetic tone of this Avengers-style miniseries.
Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie, the showrunners of Daredevil Season 2, are serving as the showrunners of The Defenders and are executive producing alongside Drew Goddard and Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb. Over the course of these eight episodes, The Defenders will bring together the stars of the individual Netflix shows—Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones)—as they team up to defeat a looming threat.
It’ll be interesting to see how these characters mesh together in The Defenders, and even more interesting to see just how long it’ll take to get them to team up. The Avengers only had two hours to have the group meet, break up, and become a team, but The Defenders has eight hours’ worth of storytelling. Will we get a slow burn buildup to the moment when they become The Defenders, or will we get a lot of Defenders action up front followed by drama?
The quality of Marvel’s Netflix series has varied, and it’s hard to argue that every show could’ve been improved by shortening to 10 or even 8 or 9 episodes. Each season feels like the story’s being stretched too thin, and things start to peter out long before the season concludes. With a shorter episode order, we may get much tighter storytelling on The Defenders, and in the hands of Clarkson we at least have some reason to be confident about the show’s direction.
The Marvel Netflix shows don’t normally traffic in high-profile movie directors, so I’d be surprised if they announced a big “name” for any of the rest of the episodes. Odds are the roster will be filled out by those that have already helmed episodes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or Iron Fist.
We do know that The Defenders won’t be the end of the road. Daredevil and Jessica Jones have each been renewed for new seasons, with the latter recently announcing that it’ll feature an all-female roster of directors. And currently in production is the first spinoff series, The Punisher, starring Jon Bernthal.
Iron Fist debuts on Netflix on March 17, 2017, and while The Defenders doesn’t have a firm release date just yet, it’s slated to hit Netflix sometime next year—likely in the fall.