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The era of Marvel's TV shows on Netflix Marvel is going to need a new name. All six of the Marvel shows that originally debuted on the service (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders) will now be at home with (most) of the rest of Marvel over on Disney+.
Things just got a little more violent over at Mickey’s house. Jessica Jones is gonna rip Goofy in half.
We don’t know how much material from these series is going to weave itself into future shows and movies; but we do know that both Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) have already shown up in the MCU proper. The former appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home (before all of the multiverse stuff went crazy), and the latter showed up on Hawkeye.
Who’s next is anyone’s guess, but if you’re new to the era of Marvel that formerly had the word “Netflix” associated with it, then here are 11 episodes that should get you up to speed.
11. Iron Fist - “A Duel of Iron”
The final episode of Season 2 got us excited for where things could have gone in this uneven series. "A Duel of Iron" included Misty Knight (Simone Missick), who is always a welcome presence, and it is also heavy on Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) who is arguably the best thing that this series brought to the table.
Wing steps up here with some Iron Fist power of her own, and by the end of the episode, she has learned to channel her own chi into her katana. Jessica Henwick fighting with a chi-powered blade is catnip for comics fans. So if anyone from this series is reintroduced, we are definitely hoping that Henwick returns as Colleen.
10. Daredevil - “New York’s Finest”
Our favorite section of Daredevil Season 2 involved the introduction of Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. Jon Bernthal gave the character an exciting new on-screen life, and this episode is a great showcase for both him and Charlie Cox.
The focus of it all is a scene taken right out of Marvel Comics: Daredevil has been trapped by Punisher on a rooftop, and the two of them have a tense back and forth about morality. Matt Murdock is hoping for redemption, but Frank Castle is way past that. He believes that criminals need to be put down for good. It’s a great spin on a classic Marvel Comics scene, with both the writing and the acting combining to form a smart analysis of what these two characters actually believe. The entire notion of heroes and vigilantes is challenged. For those of you who have no interest in debates about morality, the episode ends with one hell of a fight scene.
9. The Punisher - “Home”
If you want another great showcase of what Bernthal can do in the role of Frank Castle, "Home" is it. He is a man who protects, but he also suffers. He doesn’t care about that part. He does what he has to do, and if he himself takes some punishment along the way, so be it.
The episode is relentless in its violent display, but it is Bernthal’s emotional performance that ties it all together.
8. Jessica Jones - “AKA Three Lives and Counting”
Is Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) just a killer? She’s starting to think so. To make things worse, she's hallucinating about her old foe Kilgrave (David Tennant).
We love this episode because it brings back the haunting dynamic of Jessica and Kilgrave, something we greatly missed after Season 1 of this series. Specifically, though, it’s all about the way that the Kilgrave hallucination toys with Jessica.
Kilgrave singing “I Want Your Cray Cray” to Jessica is iconic and strange as hell. The way Ritter plays her response to this is not to be underestimated, either. Jessica ends the episode in a moment of empowerment, believing that she can control herself. Ritter as Jessica is yet another example of “we can’t see anyone else in this role."
7. Luke Cage - “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight”
We also can’t imagine anyone other than Mike Colter playing the role of Luke Cage. The first two episodes of his series are very entertaining, but this one truly hooked us. Cage takes action against Cottommouth (Mahershala Ali) and knocks “all his pieces off the board.”
Luke raids Cottonmouth’s vault in nothing but a hooded sweatshirt. We’d already seen how powerful Luke is, but this was a great reminder. Another reason this episode stands out is Ali's slow-burn performance as Cottonmouth, the series' best villain.We thought that he was just a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, but the end of this episode blew us away. Literally blew us away, because Cottonmouth blows up Genghis Connie’s with a bazooka. Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali proved to be a poet with a rocket launcher.
6. Jessica Jones - “AKA Smile”
The culmination of Kilgrave’s torment of Jessica in Season 1 is almost too much to take. Kilgrave, the man who can effortlessly control people, is never more hatable than when he asks Jessica to smile. You don’t tell Jessica Jones to do anything, but you certainly don’t go for such a silly cliche.
The way that Jones and Trish (Rachael Taylor) outmaneuver Kilgrave is very satisfying, especially considering the horrific actions that Kilgrave has in store. Tennant has rarely been more chilling than he is here, but out of nowhere there’s a moment of hilarity. Recognizing part of the ruse, Kilgrave ends up delivering Trish’s old catchphrase from her “Patsy” days. Having Kilgrave’s last moments include “It’s Patsy!” is a stroke of brilliance.
5. Daredevil - “A New Napkin”
Season 3 of Daredevil should be watched in it’s entirety. It is stunning, especially as a hurt and along Murdock combats a gaslighting Wilson Fisk with the city's soul in the balance.
Naturally, their season-long battle culminates in this shocking S3 finale, where Murdock fights Fisk in his old vigilante rags. Murdock defeats him and has a chance to end him, but he doesn’t give in to it. Fisk makes threats, but a virtuous Murdock makes some threats of his own. For better or worse, Fisk is arrested (again) and his network of corruption is dismantled.
After a season of darkness, there’s hope. Matt Murdock is back, and he may start a new firm with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson).
4. Luke Cage - “Step in the Arena”
Welcome to Luke Cage Begins. Underneath the rubble caused by Cottonmouth’s bazooka blast, Cage recalls his own history. Want to know how Luke Cage got his incredible strength? Start here.
What's involved? Government experimentation (naturally) and a name change. “Luke Cage” is not this man’s real name, but rather an assumed identity. Misty Knight (the great Simone Missick) is tracking down clues while Cage remembers.
As great as Luke’s history is, the moment that cements this episode as an all-timer is the end. After freeing himself from under the rubble, Luke Cage reveals himself publicly. As far as iconic hero moments go, it’s hard to beat Colter here.
3. Jessica Jones - “AKA Sin Bin”
How dangerous is Kilgrave? How terrifying is Kilgrave? How brilliant is David Tennant in the role? Watch this episode and bare witness.
Jessica thinks that she has a good plan to take Kilgrave down, and it involves Kilgrave's parents. It doesn’t work. In one of the most brutal scenes in anything MCU related, Kilgrave orders his mother to stab herself to death and then orders his father to cut his own throat. Kilgrave can enthrall anyone, so they comply. Kilgrave watches.
His powers over people are formidable, but he’s also smart enough to know how not to get caught. He plays nice when he has to. He has incredible power, but what’s worse is that he is intellectually precise when using it. When he's able to let his powers fly free (as he does in this episode), he becomes one of the MCU’s most terrifying characters.
2. Daredevil - “In the Blood”
Speaking of terrifying characters, few Marvel baddies are more unsettling and dangerous than Kingpin. The first season of Daredevil keeps him in the shadows for the first three episodes, but when Vincent D’Onofrio finally appears in the flesh, it is truly iconic.
Any joke that you’ve ever heard about Kingpin and a car door? This is the episode where that's from. Specifically, it’s from a scene in this episode where Kingpin gives everyone a bloody taste of what he’s capable of physically doing. He’s brilliant, brutal, and bloody. D’Onofrio owns the role every second that he’s on screen.
He’s calm and collected one moment, and then he’s screaming “YOU EMBARRASSED ME IN FRONT OF VANESSA!” the next. This is the episode to watch if you want Wilson Fisk 101, with a side of "Volatility in a Suit: The Fisk Story."
1. Daredevil - “Cut Man”
This Season 1 episode of Daredevil is our favorite. It is what launched the Marvel Netflix Universe into must-see territory (for better or worse). And yup, this is the episode with the much-discussed, all-in-one-take hallway fight scene.
The somber moments between Matt and Claire (Rosario Dawson) are wonderful, but come on. The ongoing oner brawl is the thing that stands out the most from this entire season. It’s inventive, fluid, and not something that we expected from a streaming show. It raised the bar for action on television, to the point where Daredevil itself had trouble topping it.
The show featured bigger and crazier sequences in subsequent seasons, but none topped the sheer bravado of this one.