How Marvel will cram four, broody superheroes into one miniseries in 'The Defenders'

Move over, Avengers: a new team of scrappy, street smart superheroes is moving into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On Aug. 18, Netflix will unveil the miniseries superhero team-up it’s been building towards for three years, “Marvel’s The Defenders.”

Not familiar with the new good-guy gang? Don’t fret. “The Defenders” aren’t as easily recognizable as the heavily marketed band of “Earth’s mightiest heroes” from the movies. But with an impressive roster of Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) and a ravenous audience already primed thanks to the previous standalone series all leading into this eight-episode miniseries, “The Defenders” certainly have their fair share of buzz.

So whether this is your first foray into the art of the superhero binge-watch or you’re a returning champ, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know from the new team of heroes unrestricted by a PG-13 rating.

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The first Defenders team-up debuted in a 1971 comic and featured Dr. Strange, the Hulk, Namor and — ultimately — the Silver Surfer. From there the group would reassemble with new faces and characters whenever there was cosmic danger (or a need to sell a superhero crossover comic). Now, the new Defenders include all Marvel’s Netflix heroes in one, fairly reluctant team.

Unlike the aforementioned Avengers, who are often steered by the pollyanna protector Captain America, these supers are a group of no-nonsense New Yorkers. “There's no official hierarchy, all that's yet to be set,” co-showrunner Marco Ramirez explained. “We get to lean into the messiness, and the haste, of these four all thrown together dealing and working professionally with each other.”

With no team leader in sight yet, the foursome will have to begrudgingly work together to defeat the new big bad, Sigourney Weaver, who plays the mysterious Alexandra.

Ramirez was reluctant to reveal anything about Weaver’s character, but he did confirm plenty of action for the new villain and recalled a day on set when Weaver shared her thoughts on her fighting style. “[Weaver] said, ‘I’ve never been a martial arts kind of gal, I'm more of a hold-the-flamethrower kind of gal,’” Ramirez recalled, still sounding stunned. “I'd love to tattoo that interaction onto my forehead forever. She was really willing to do things, to really get dirty, it was wonderful.”

The art of fight choreography was very important to Ramirez since the action scenes help define each character during the middle of what has the potential to be a pretty intense — and confusing — brawl.

Working with stunt coordinator Matt Mullins, the showrunner broke down each style from the writers’ point of view. Daredevil, the trained boxer of the group, just wants every punch to be the last. Luke Cage plays defense— “He's the guy who will cover a child, he will use his body defensively” said Ramirez. Jessica Jones just wants the fight to be over, takes no joy in it and detests every part of the act, even the build up. “That, as an attitude, is so much fun to watch once she's fighting.” And finally, the Iron Fist, “Danny Rand is kind of hot-headed, a little more naïve than the others. He's very eager and gets himself into fights and bites off more than he can chew, a lot.”

Fighting styles aren’t all “The Defenders” will be borrowing from the past Netflix shows. The mashup miniseries allows Ramirez to cherry-pick some of his favorite elements: pulling inspiration from the hugely popular “Luke Cage” soundtrack or referencing the noir feel of “Jessica Jones.”

But his biggest joy was just watching the four personalities interact. “Text messaging back and forth with Krysten Ritter, crafting cool one-liner moments for JJ, was one of the highlights of the show,” he said. “It was as exciting as doing big fight scenes. ‘How will JJ make fun of everyone else in the room?’ was a primary focus at all times,” he says. “In some ways she gets to be our Han Solo, the regular grounded person's way into this world. I think one of the great joys of the show is watching them interact.”

So do you need to know everything that happened in the last episode of “Luke Cage” or during the sixth episode of the second season of “Daredevil” to enjoy the new “Defenders?” Ramirez says no; he was tasked by both Marvel and Netflix to craft a story that anyone could drop into.

Whether you need a cheat sheet or a refresher, here’s a quick rundown for each hero and the last we saw of them.

Daredevil

Real name: Matt Murdock

Powers: Human radar, deadly with a baton

Day job: Lawyer

Where we left off: After witnessing the death of long-time love Elektra Natchios, Daredevil reveals his true identity to his friend and new love interest Karen Page. Meanwhile the nefarious group known as The Hand takes Elektra’s body for reasons unknown— presumably to be revealed in “The Defenders” — since she appears in the trailer.

Jessica Jones

Real name: Jessica Jones (because superhero names like Jewel are silly)

Powers: Super strength, biting sarcasm, high alcohol tolerance

Day job: Private detective

Where we left off: After killing off the obsessed, mind-controlling menace named Kilgrave, Jones resumes her private investigating practice— now doubly busy thanks to her heroics— which includes tailing Rand Enterprise Board Members.

Luke Cage

Former name: Carl Lucas

Powers: Impenetrable skin, super strength

Day job: Former bartender, former barbershop assistant, hero for hire

Where we left off: Luke Cage is outed as Carl Lucas and sent back to jail. Cage decides he’s through running and wants to fight his wrongful imprisonment — he’s got work to do.

Iron Fist

Real name: Danny Rand

Powers: Turns concentrated chi into the powerful “Iron Fist” attack, trained in martial arts

Day job: Siphoning money from Rand Enterprises. (He’s rich.)

Where we left off: Last we saw Rand he was raising his Iron Fist in anger at the former entrance to the mystical city of K'un-Lun. Around him lay the bodies of slain members of The Hand. What happened to his blessed city?

meredith.woerner@latimes.com

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