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In case you haven’t noticed, Netflix has a lot of Marvel Universe shows. If you haven’t yet visited that Marvelverse, you need to add it to your binge list. This applies whether you are a fan of the comics, or not a fan and have no idea who the characters are, or even if you think they sound lame.
You can thank us when you’re sitting on your couch in your underwear days later with eleven empty bags of Doritos and who knows how many cans of Monster scattered on the coffee table. You may even forget what the sun looks like, but don’t worry — it’ll be worth it.
But, don’t just jump in. Because the Netflix shows have interwoven storylines, it is essential to watch them in the right order, so you don’t miss out on something important. If you start with Luke Cage, for example, you will have missed an entire season of Jessica Jones featuring him. If you start with The Defenders, you’re going to have no idea what is going on at all.
It will still be fun to watch, but why cheat yourself?
Let’s take a look at each of these shows so you have some idea what they are about going into this (we’ll tell you in which order you should watch them later).
Of the characters you will encounter on Netflix, Daredevil is perhaps the most “famous” of the bunch (though some would argue that this honor goes to The Punisher). You’ve at least heard of the movie that came out in 2003 featuring the crimson-clad superhero.
The show follows the story of Matthew Murdock, a lawyer-by-day and ass-kicking superhero by night. Blinded by a freak accident involving radioactive chemicals when he was a child, Murdock’s remaining senses heightened to extraordinary levels. He also is an adept martial artist.
As Daredevil, Murdock (Charlie Cox) patrols the streets of Hell’s Kitchen using his superhuman senses to battle criminals. But the action, while impressive, isn’t what makes the show. It’s the story, the writing, and the fantastic performances that make it what it is.
Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is perhaps the best of Netflix’s excellent Marvel lineup. In the comics, Jessica Jones is a relatively minor character with significant connections. While the origins of Jones, a moody alcoholic private detective with superhuman strength, limited invulnerability, and the ability to kinda-sorta fly (sometimes) aren’t covered heavily in the show, she has a fascinating backstory.
She had a crush on Spiderman (well, Peter Parker) in high school. Not to mention Luke Cage’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, and she even punched Doctor Octopus in the face. Jones spent some time as an Avenger.
But the show to date has covered only one of those things — a brief relationship/fling with Luke Cage.
In Netflix’s Jessica Jones, the primary appeal is that she’s complicated. She’s damaged but also one of the strongest women you’ve ever seen (and we’re not talking about her ability to put you through a wall). Her history is rough, and the show doesn’t shy away from the darkness of her past experiences.
In fact, it embraces them because they are, for better or worse, what makes her the woman she is today. She’s damaged, but slowly piecing her life back together.
The show is filled to bursting with strong women, including Jessica Jones’ best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), and high-profile attorney Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss). Temple and Hogarth appear as recurring characters across most of the Marvel shows on Netflix, with Walker making an appearance on The Defenders.
Jessica Jones’ major appeal is that she’s a good woman who has done bad things. The show is about recovery and redemption and the guy who plays the “big bad” in season one once flew around in a big blue box that’s “bigger on the inside” on another show.
We first meet former convict Luke Cage (Mike Colter) during the first season of Jessica Jones, where he’s working as a bartender who can be as dense as his skin, which renders him nigh-invulnerable (he also has superhuman strength and stamina).
For his show, he moves away from Hell’s Kitchen (and Jessica) and into Harlem.
In the comics, Cage (also known as Power Man) is another “who’s that?” hero, though he did form his own partially for-profit supergroup with his buddy Iron Fist.
On Netflix, Luke Cage makes a strong showing and is worth checking out — though it is unclear if we will ever see him in “Heroes For Hire” with Iron Fist as he did in the comics.
When we first meet billionaire Danny Rand (Finn Jones), he’s dead — well, presumed dead anyway. Rand spent many of his formative years away in the mystical land of K’un-Lun, where he trained to become the “immortal” Iron Fist. He even fought a dragon.
How cool is that?
But he abandoned that post and returned to New York, where he found that evil had overrun his father’s company. The first season follows his struggle to gain control of his rightful inheritance and defeat a criminal group known as The Hand.
The Defenders is where it all comes together. The show features all of the heroes mentioned above teaming up to do battle against an evil that threatens all of New York. It’s also where we see Luke Cage meet his lifelong BFF Iron Fist.
The four heroes (don’t call them that if you don’t want a fist to the mouth) spend more of their time arguing (and fighting amongst themselves in hallways) than battling evil, but that’s OK. While these four characters have little to do with The Defenders in the comics, that theme is persistent among every incarnation of the supergroup throughout Marvel’s history.
The Defenders is thoroughly enjoyable, but make sure to watch the first season of everything else (and the second season of Daredevil) first, or you might be a little lost. As we have learned over the years, Marvel likes to assume you have seen everything else they have made.
The Punisher enters the story in the second season of Daredevil, where he is portrayed (correctly) as an anti-hero; fighting bad guys on his terms as he works to avenge the murders of his wife and child.
Former Marine Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is wonderfully complex and conflicted. Though the show suffers some pacing issues, it’s something you don’t want to miss.
How to Get Started in the Marvel Universe
With so much going on and so many integrated storylines and characters existing across all of the shows, the task of making sense of it all can be daunting. So here’s a handy guide to help you know in which order you should watch these excellent Marvel shows to maximize your understanding and enjoyment:
- Daredevil season one
- Jessica Jones season one
- Daredevil season two
- Luke Cage season one
- Iron Fist season one
- The Defenders
- The Punisher season one
- Jessica Jones season two
- Luke Cage season 2
- Iron Fist season 2
- Daredevil season 3
- The Punisher season 2
- Jessica Jones season 3
What’s Next on Netflix
If you’re already a fan of Marvel’s Netflix shows, you’re sure to continue to enjoy them. If you like comics but haven’t yet taken the plunge, you need to get on that right now. What makes these shows awesome isn’t fun costumes and fighting — it’s the colorful and unique characters and storylines.
They focus more on the “human” side of superheroes than anything else, so there’s definitely something for everyone.