The One Evil The Defenders Couldn’t Conquer



Chuck Sipps, Arts and Life Editor

You may have heard that Phase 3 of the MCU has come to a close with the release of ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’. Another ending has come to Marvel as Season 3 of ‘Jessica Jones’ was the swan song for the partnership between Netflix and Marvel. The reason? Well, there are many. It could be boiled down to two main factors. The Head of Marvel’s Movie Division and their Head of TV division did not get along and the announcement of parent company Disney’s new streaming service Disney+. The now rival companies have agreed to part ways leaving the beloved characters of the Netflix verse behind. Rather than lament the ending of these shows, this article will celebrate them with a stroll down memory lane. Let us look at some of its most awesome movements and contributions.

The Villains- The true death knell for the NCU didn’t necessarily come with the cancellation of its shows, though that didn’t help. The true death came when it was revealed that Marhershala Ali would be portraying Blade in the MCU. The problem is that Ali had already portrayed the villain Cottonmouth in ‘Luke Cage’. If there was any more obvious way to solidify that the NCU wasn’t part of the MCU, this is it. Ali did a wonderful job playing the ambitious Cottonmouth and he wasn’t the only standout villain. Unlike the MCU and its oft-maligned villains, the NCU villains are given more time to shine and develop. This is also true of David Tennant’s Killgrave who maliciously chewed the scenery of season 1 of ‘Jessica Jones’. Despite the tremendous performances of both actors, there is only one Kingpin. Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Kingpin is amongst the grandest villain performances in all of cinema. He is as compelling as he is repulsive and carries himself with a menace and gravitas that is unmatched. If you have not seen his Good Samaritan monologue, it is chilling.

The Heroes- It’s funny to think about but if you’ve seen all of Marvel’s content you’ve spent more time watching Charlie Cox’s Daredevil then Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark. Sometimes the stakes of the MCU can be too grand to properly invest in. The NCU significantly lowered the stakes but thanks to extra time afforded to TV are able to increase the drama and character development. For example, in the MCU we know that the Winter Soldier changes from a villain to a hero. This transformation happens off-screen. In the NCU the Punisher is first introduced as a foe of Daredevil before transitioning into an anti-hero and headlining his own NCU show. Characters are given time to develop and change and grow. Each hero of the NCU has carried their show for multiple seasons and largely succeeded. While I won’t make the claim that they stand above the heroes of the MCU, they do deserve to stand among them.

The Representation- Unlike the MCU which has been predominantly straight-white-male driven, the NCU has never been afraid to show the different elements of society. ‘Jessica Jones’ was the first female-led Marvel project, ‘Luke Cage’ the first project led by a person of color, and there is LGBTQ representation throughout the series. The NCU shows the more human side of society and tackling the big issues and prejudices that are all too common in society. Never falling into tokenism, a gay character’s entire arc doesn’t begin with their queerness. Instead, that is one aspect of who they are. The MCU is increasing its representation and it will hopefully continue to do so but the NCU did it first.

The NCU is indeed over, but its contribution to the genre deserves recognition. While at this point it seems unlikely that any of the NCU characters will enter the MCU, one can only hope. No matter how it shakes out, the NCU deserves a fond farewell.