Anyone who knows anything about the Netflix original series Marvel’s The Defenders knows that it’s not about heroism, teamwork or saving New York. It’s about punching. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a highly scientific and completely unbiased list of the best punches from the team-up miniseries. Punches are graded on cinematography, choreography, context and emotional payoff.
Let’s get started. (Very light, punch-related spoilers to follow.)
You probably saw this punch if you watched any trailer for The Defenders. It’s a pretty good punch! Watching Luke Cage get surprised by a punch that can actually hurt him is fun. But it’s Danny Rand doing the punching, so chalk this one up as good, not great.
Madam Gao, one of the five fingers of The Hand—a recurring adversary—from multiple of Netflix’s Marvel series, is an old lady. Admittedly, she can use chi to hit things with incredible force, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a shot of Jessica Jones just whaling on a little old lady. That alone makes this a good punch, even if the actual visuals are little lacking.
This punch is the first time Elektra (the main antagonist of the series, the Black Sky) shows that she isn’t truly controlled by The Hand. Rather than fight Daredevil, she chooses to punch Murakami, a finger of The Hand. For that character development, this punch makes the list.
Danny Rand, by any objective measure, is very dumb. Less a superhero and more a child that can punch real hard, he spends most of this series as a kind of talking MacGuffin. And thank goodness, because otherwise we’d have to watch him make choices, which can result in people like Elektra taking advantage of him and using him for their own ends. Case in point: The one thing Danny wasn’t supposed to do was punch this wall. What does Elektra get him to do? Punch it. Good job, Elektra! Bad job, Danny.
I think you can make the case that this fight is more romantic than the kiss the two characters share moments later. These are two people acknowledging that they relate to each other best through violence, which is a very difficult emotion to convey. But through punching, they find a way. This beautiful moment would rank higher, however, if the cinematography wasn’t quite so dark—it’s a bit hard to see what’s going on.
Look, I shouldn’t have to explain this one to you. Daredevil’s fiery mentor, Stick, cuts off his own hand and then punches one of the main villains of the series with the leftover stub. I repeat: He cuts off his own hand and then punches someone with the stub. Good punch.
As anyone with a pulse will tell you, the main draw of a superhero team-up event isn’t the teamwork, it’s the chance to watch the superheroes fight each other. In this case, it’s specifically the chance to watch superheroes beat up Danny Rand. When I saw Danny start this fight that he couldn’t hope to win (with this very punch) against the rest of the Defenders, I thanked Marco Ramirez out loud.
The only thing funnier than a little old lady getting punched so hard she flies across the room? That same little old lady punching a superhero who is supposed to be good at fighting so hard he falls down.
A very good way to demonstrate the quality of a punch is by showing laughable, weaker punches immediately beforehand. Look at Danny, pathetically failing to hurt Luke Cage. And then gaze upon Luke Cage, who with one excellent punch puts Danny on his ass. Glorious.
No. Don’t speak. You’ll ruin it. Just… breathe it in. That’s Danny Rand getting knocked the fuck out by noted cool lady Jessica Jones. Go ahead, watch it a few more times. Nobody can stop you.
And that’s the list! Now I don’t want to hear any arguments or complaints. As I said before, this list is perfectly unbiased, a product of pure science and reason. Certainly no bias against any specific characters on the show.
But also if I see any of you tweet “Danny Rand isn’t that bad, punches with him on the receiving end didn’t deserve to get extra points” in response to this list, I will call the police.