Thanos and his lieutenants – Cull Obsidian (Notary, playing a character known as “Black Dwarf” in the Comics), Ebony Maw (Vaughan-Lawlor), Proxima Midnight (Coon) and Corvus Glaive (Shaw) – begin Infinity War by intercepting the Spaceship carrying refugees from the destruction of Asgard at the end of Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Thanos subdues Thor and hurls Hulk (Ruffalo) across space before murdering a sneakily recalcitrant Loki, thereby successfully making off with the Space Stone that was the Power Source for the Tesseract that fuelled the Invasion plot at the heart of TheAvengers (2012). This forms one of the six infinity stones that Thanos requires for full mastery over the governing principles of the Marvel Multiverse. Ebony Maw captures Strange (who is using the Time Stone as a focus for his own Superpowers) during a confrontation at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York (see Doctor Strange (2016) for more on the sanctums and the Cities to which they are connected) and is pursued by Iron Man (Downey Jr) and Spider-Man (Holland), who stow away aboard Maw’s vessel at it leaves earth. A bout of fisticuffs in Edinburgh sees Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive ambush amorous runaways Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and Vision (Bettany) in pursuit of the Mind Stone inserted into Vision’s forehead during Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): World War Two veteran Captain America (Evans), along with loyal members of his faction of Avengers (see Captain America: Civil War (2016) for more on the cause of this schism) rescues Scarlet Witch and Vision and suggests they all travel to Wakanda (for which see Black Panther (2018)) in hope that Wakandan Scientist Shuri (Wright) has the Technology to remove the stone from Vision without destroying him in the process:-
Vigilante lawyer Matt Murdock, protagonist of Daredevil (2015-current), persuades binge-drinking private investigator Jessica Jones (2015-current), former Prison inmate Luke Cage (2016-current) and billionaire martial arts expert Danny Rand from Iron Fist (2017), to combine their efforts against the perfidious Asian Crime syndicate “The Hand”, the Secret Masters behind a series of earthquakes that begins to afflict contemporary New York.
The original line-up of The Defenders from Marvel Feature #1 (December 1971) included the man from Atlantis Namor, the Alien emissary the Silver Surfer, and TheIncredible Hulk, central character of both the US tv series (1977-1982) and the film of the same name (2008); this was coordinated by Comic-book HeroDoctor Strange, most recently given the big-budget treatment in Doctor Strange (2016). The membership of the four-strong team of Superheroes changed frequently, however, over the course of its run in Marvel Comics from 1972 until 1986, as it did on a mission-by-mission basis under the name The Secret Defenders (1993-1995), and was always subject to the kind of contractual availability and convenience that made it suitable for current-day aims of the Television arm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
“Since being incarcerated I’ve developed empathy with those who’ve suffered at the hands of the law,” Wilson Fisk tells Frank Castle/The Punisher in episode nine of season two of Daredevil, inviting comparison with the character who may be the prototype of the modern Superhero, Edmont Dantès, the protagonist of Le Comte de Monte-Christo (28 August 1844-15 January 1846 Journal des Débats; 1844-1845 18vols; trans as The Count of Monte Cristo1846 3vols) by Alexandre Dumas. “Everyone warned me about Prison but I find it refreshing,” Fisk continues: “It’s the perfect microcosm of the animal world.” (See Social Darwinism.) What prison, in fact, reveals in both Daredevil and The Count of Monte Cristo is the dirty secret of free-market democracy: corruption. All four of The Defenders witness the effect of criminal exploitation on the Media Landscape of New York and the Economics of their local communities. “The City you’re sworn to protect is Ground Zero in a War it doesn’t even know is happening,” insists Daredevil’s mentor Stick (Glen). If the Pulp traditions of storytelling from which Daredevil and Iron Fist inherit many of their Clichés and visual tropes used Western Paranoia about the Yellow Peril to convey fears about the consequences of Imperialism in Asia, here the Secret Masters “The Hand” relay domestic concerns about the war on Drugs and the United States’ role in geopolitics since World War Two, albeit in a way that does not quite call the American way of life into question. Societal anxieties are instead called forth in the courtroom trial of murderous war veteran Frank Castle/The Punisher, who seems to epitomize everything the United States fears about its militarism and dependence on the family unit as the basis of social cohesion. “This trial isn’t about vigilantes, it’s about the failure of the justice system,” Foggy Nelson tells the jury. “New York needs heroes,” pleads Matt Murdock. “All I want is the truth about something,” says Karen Page, frantic about the impurity of the motives of everyone around her. “Kill your way to justice!” bellows Wilson Fisk:-