In the shadow of the successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, Netflix developed its own interconnected world of Marvel adaptations. The Defenders Saga collected television series featuring street-level heroes from the Marvel comics. First launched in 2015, the saga included six different television series with thirteen seasons altogether.
Netflix canceled each series by early 2019, but it didn’t spell the end for the saga. The Defenders Saga is now available to stream on Disney+, and the characters are slowly being assimilated into the MCU. Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onfrio have both reprised their Netflix roles within the MCU, and a reboot series for Daredevilis scheduled for release during the MCU’s fifth phase.
13 Daredevil Season 1 Introduces The Devil Of Hell’s Kitchen (April 10, 2015)
Netflix’s first Marvel series was Daredevil, which premiered on April 10, 2015. Starring Charlie Cox as the titular hero, the first season pitted the blind vigilante against the villainous Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onfrio.
Matt attempted to conceal his superhero alter-ego while maintaining his career as a lawyer alongside his legal partner and best friend, Foggy Nelson. With a much darker tone than any MCU project, Daredevil quickly established the more serious and violent nature of Netflix’s take on Marvel characters that carried throughout the following series.
12 Jessica Jones Season 1 Is A Chilling Psychological Thriller (November 20, 2015)
Released in November 2015, Jessica Jones became the second series in The Defenders Saga. Played by Krysten Ritter, private investigator Jessica Jones became a reluctant hero after a dark figure from her past makes an unexpected return.
David Tennant gives a chilling performance as Kilgrave, one of the darkest characters in the Marvel Universe. The first season also introduces Luke Cage, portrayed by Mike Colter, as a love interest for Jessica. Luke would star in his own series the following year.
11 A Fan-Favorite Vigilante Debuts In Daredevil Season 2 (March 18, 2016)
Daredevil‘s main cast expanded during its second season, introducing Élodie Yung as Elektra Natchios and Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle. The parallels between Frank and Matt’s vigilante justice contributed to the series’ complex moral narrative and made one ponder what it truly meant to be a hero.
As Matt, Foggy, and Karen worked together on Frank Castle’s legal case during his trial, the season also explored the Hand, a villain organization seeking immortality. The Hand would return and play a significant role in The Defenders.
10 Luke Cage Season 1 Showcases A Harlem Hero (September 30, 2016)
After his introduction in Jessica Jones, Luke Cage received his first solo outing with the release of Luke Cage season one in September 2016. Like Jessica, Luke proved a reluctant hero, attempting to maintain a normal life despite his superhuman strength and unbreakable skin.
Played by Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali, Cottonmouth established himself as the season’s main antagonist. Willis Stryker, aka Diamondback, and Mariah Dillard served as opposition for the titular hero. First appearing in Daredevil‘s season one, Rosario Dawson returned as Claire Temple, further developing the interconnected nature of the series.
9 Iron Fist Season 1 Has A Disappointing Debut (March 17, 2017)
Iron Fist became the final solo project prior to the superhero team up in The Defenders. Starring Finn Jones as Danny Rand, the series followed Rand’s return to New York a decade after the plane crash that killed his parents.
While everyone in New York had presumed him dead, monks found Danny and took him in after the crash. Danny pursued training in martial arts and ultimately earned the power of the Iron Fist. While audiences largely criticized the first season of Iron Fist for poor pacing, acting, and fight choreography, it delivered some memorable scenes and introduced Danny before The Defenders.
8 The Defenders Finally Brings The Heroes Together (August 18, 2017)
The Netflix heroes’ highly anticipated team-up took place during The Defenders, an eight-episode miniseries released in 2017. The super-powered foursome partnered to bring down the Hand, the villainous group featured in Daredevil and Iron Fist. Besides the heroes, the miniseries highlighted many supporting characters from each individual series.
Although audiences criticized some elements of the miniseries’ storyline, The Defenders‘ incorporation of distinct elements from each series delivered a satisfying team-up overall. The heroes’ unique dynamic, particularly between Matt and Jessica, also made for some unexpectedly hilarious moments.
7 The Punisher Season 1 Expands Beyond The Defenders Team (November 17, 2017)
Following the positive fan response to Frank Castle’s role in Daredevil season two, Jon Bernthal reprised the role in a spin-off series, The Punisher, debuting in November 2017. The thirteen-episode series explored Frank’s struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder following his military service and didn’t shy away from the character’s violent nature as a vigilante.
The Punisher also starred Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman and Ben Barnes as Billy Russo. Deborah Ann Woll reprised her role from Daredevil, bringing Karen Page into the spin-off as well.
6 Jessica Jones Season 2 Digs Deeper Into The Character (March 8, 2018)
Krysten Ritter returned as Jessica Jones for the show’s sophomore season, which debuted in March 2018. Following Kilgrave’s defeat in season one, season two delved deeper into Jessica’s character. Jessica learned the truth about her mother, which shed additional light on her past.
Despite being celebrated across the city as a hero, Jessica continued to express dismay at the notion of fully adopting a superhero mantle. The second season also featured a small crossover by including Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock’s best friend in Daredevil.
5 Luke Cage Season 2 Includes Many Familiar Faces (June 22, 2018)
Luke Cage‘s sophomore season followed the character’s return to Harlem following the events of The Defenders. Now a local celebrity, Luke faced a new enemy, John McIver, also known as Bushmaster, who sought vengeance for his family’s murder.
Much of the first season’s cast reprised their roles for Luke Cage‘s sophomore season. Besides the returning Luke Cage ensemble, Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick reprised their Iron Fist roles as Danny Rand and Colleen Wing, respectively. Daredevil‘s Elden Henson made another appearance as Foggy Nelson.
4 Iron Fist Season 2 Makes Up For Its Predecessor’s Mistakes (September 7, 2018)
The second and final season of Netflix’s Iron Fist debuted in September 2018. Following the events of The Defenders, Danny Rand sought to protect the city of New York amid Matt Murdock’s absence.
The season continued developing Danny Rand’s character and made up for many of the first season’s missteps. Even though the season continued to receive mixed reviews, audiences praised the improved fight sequences thanks to Clayton Barber’s work as the show’s fight coordinator, following his work on the MCU’s Black Panther.
3 Daredevil Season 3 Is The Show’s Best Yet (October 19, 2018)
After Matt nearly died in The Defenders, he’s taken into Sister Maggie’s care and let the world continue to believe he died in the building’s collapse. Continuing to fight as Daredevil, he felt ready to leave his life as Matt Murdock behind.
However, Matt ultimately returned in order to protect those he loved from danger. The ensuing drama made the season the show’s best yet, including unforgettable twists and turns and interesting conflicts, both internal and external. Even though Netflix canceled the series after this final season, Disney+ announced a reboot of the show, titled Daredevil: Born Again.
2 The Punisher Season 2 Continues Frank’s Story (January 18, 2019)
Frank Castle continued to wrestle with the morality of his Punisher role during the show’s second season. The sophomore season featured the return of Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, and Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle. Giorgia Wingham joined the series as Amy Bendix, the young woman Frank saved from being murdered.
Deborah Ann Woll appeared once again as Karen Page in a guest role. The Punisher was canceled in 2019. Like the other entries in The Defenders Saga, the series became available on Disney+, but it remained unclear whether Frank would appear in the MCU.
1 Jessica Jones Season 3 Is The Final Entry In The Defenders Saga (June 14, 2019)
Jessica Jones joined Daredevil as the only Marvel Netflix series to receive a third season. The show’s final season centered on the complicated dynamic between Jessica Jones and Trish Walker as they worked together to take down serial killer Gregory Salinger, played by Jeremy Bobb.
Besides the show’s main cast, Mike Colter returned as Luke Cage in the season’s final episode. Although their return in the MCU was yet to be confirmed, Mike Colter and Krysten Ritter excited fans with a reunion shared on social media.