10 Best Easter Eggs From The Defenders

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For nearly two and a half years, Marvel and Netflix have been steadily laying the framework for a shared universe of street-level heroes worthy enough to stand opposite their big-screen counterparts. Now, much like The Avengers did for the MCU back in 2012, The Defenders has provided a massive payoff for those who’ve been eagerly following along since the beginning by bringing together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, whose stories have finally converged in the form of a battle to save New York from the clutches of the Hand.

Like all of the Marvel/Netflix series thus far, there are countless Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the first, and hopefully not the last season of The Defenders. However, some manage to stand above the rest, and those are the ones we’ll be looking at in this list. With that in mind, here are the 10 best Easter eggs from The Defenders:

  1. A Dolph Lundgren Punisher Nod?

    In 1989, long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was churning out blockbuster after blockbuster, Frank Castle made his big-screen debut in The Punisher, with Dolph Lundgren playing the role that – after Daredevil Season 2 – now definitively belongs to Jon Bernthal. And while there’s certainly a lot of things most fans would like to forget about the film, that didn’t seem to stop the Defenders showrunners from including a subtle nod to the movie that first brought Marvel/Netflix’s gun-toting vigilante to live action.

    When we first meet up with Matt Murdock, he’s not defending the innocent as Daredevil, but rather using his legal chops to try and earn a settlement for a young man who seemingly may never walk again. For those familiar with the Punisher movie, though, the name of the man Matt is interrogating, Mr. Berkowitz, may ring a few bells.

    While he has no direct comic book counterpart, the Frank Castle from the ’89 Punisher film had a friend on the police force named Jake Berkowitz. Considering the Punisher’s newfound status as a member of the Marvel/Netflix universe, this connection is probably no mere coincidence.

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  2. Stan Lee’s Cameo

    By now, fans of the MCU, including its television properties, have come to expect a cameo from Stan Lee in one form or another each time Marvel releases a new project. As for the Netflix series, those cameos tend to come in the form of photographs or posters, and The Defenders proves to be no different.

    It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but during the scene in which Matt and Jessica take turns following one another on the busy streets of NYC, you can clearly see the face of none other than Stan Lee on a large NYPD poster. 

  3. ‘The Incident’

    In the MCU, the Chitauri attack from The Avengers has come to be known by the citizens of New York as ‘the incident,’ and it’s been referenced in each of the Marvel/Netflix series to date. Naturally, it only makes sense that it be mentioned in The Defenders, considering Manhattan was ground-zero for the alien invasion.

    The first time we hear mention of the incident is after what appears to be an earthquake nearly levels a large portion of the city. Following the catastrophe, someone calls into Trish’s radio show, Trish Talk, referencing the aforementioned Chitauri attack and providing further proof that New Yorkers are still understandably shell-shocked five years later.

    We get another nod to the incident when Matt pays a visit to Karen, who now occupies the former office of the late Ben Urich at the New York Bulletin. Karen had a great deal of respect for Ben, and as such, left a number of his framed front-page stories on display, including the one from both seasons of Daredevil that features the headline, “Battle of NY.”

  4. More Hallway Haymakers

    Much like the Stan Lee cameos and the references to ‘the incident,’ another staple of the Marvel/Netflix series is the action-packed hallway fight sequences. Granted, the bar was set to unbelievable heights in Daredevil Season 1, but nonetheless, these sequences almost always manage to put a triumphant smile on viewers’ faces.

    This time, rather than a one-on-many battle, we have the pleasure of watching Matt, Jessica, Luke, and Danny take on the Hand, as well as Elektra, which makes for some truly memorable moments. The Luke and Danny teamwork is an absolute highlight, particularly when Danny uses the much larger Luke to shield himself from a barrage of bullets, but from a purely aesthetic standpoint, the fight choreography in the battle between Matt and Elektra blows the other smaller skirmishes completely out of the water.

  5. The Homage Scenes

    Admittedly, The Defenders isn’t quite as jam-packed with Easter eggs as most of its predecessors. In fact, a number of them aren’t deep cuts, but rather connections to the previous standalone series. Still, two of them, in particular, stand out because of how brilliantly they mirror events from the other shows.

    The first one occurs during the initial encounter between Luke and Danny, who engage in a quintessential fight between two heroes upon meeting before they eventually team up. After realizing that his expert martial arts moves are useless against the unbreakable Luke Cage, Danny focuses his chi and summons the Iron Fist, allowing him to deliver a devastating blow to Luke’s jaw in gorgeous slow-motion. If the scene looks familiar, it’s because it’s practically a shot-for-shot recreation of the one from Season 1 of Luke Cage, where one of Cottonmouth’s thugs delivers a similar haymaker to Luke, only with much different results.

    Later in the series, we get another homage-style scene, this time to Season 1 of Daredevil. When Jessica is being interrogated at the police station, Matt bursts into the room and quickly addresses himself as her lawyer, much to Jessica’s surprise. While it doesn’t evoke as many memories as the Luke/Danny fight, it does feel quite reminiscent of Matt’s first introduction to Karen, which takes place when he and Foggy similarly present themselves as her attorneys after she’s suspected of murdering a coworker.  

  6. The Real Night Nurse?

    In the MCU, we’ve had two apparent stand-ins for the comic book version of Night Nurse – a medical professional who specializes in helping injured superheroes. The first, of course, is Claire Temple, who has been the connecting thread throughout the Marvel/Netflix series thus far. The second is Doctor Strange’s Christine Palmer – a character who appeared alongside the actual Night Nurse, Linda Carter, in the eponymous comic book series Night Nurse.

    In the finale, when Colleen Wing pays a visit to a convalescing Misty Knight, we get a brief glimpse of the Patient Care Board on the wall. Several names are listed on the board, including Dr. E. Wirtham (the Marvel villain known as Cardiac) and Marvel writer Tony Isabella, but we also see that the nurse on call is none other than L. Carter, which is clearly a reference to the comic book iteration of Night Nurse.

  7. The Daughters Of The Dragon

    In Season 1 of Iron Fist, fans got their first tease of the Daughters of the Dragon - the duo consisting of Colleen Wing and Misty Knight – when Colleen tells a cage-fighting emcee to refer to her as ‘the Daughter of the Dragon.’ Naturally, in The Defenders, fans were eager to see the inevitable first meeting between Colleen and Misty, and they finally got it when Colleen was brought to Misty’s precinct for protective custody.

    Aside from placing the two characters together, the interaction, itself, doesn’t do much in terms of appeasing fans who are clamoring for a Daughters of the Dragon spin-off series. However, there’s an undeniable similarity in the color scheme of the pair’s outfits on-screen versus their traditional costumes from the comics, so who knows whether or not this is a moment of foreshadowing. In fact…

  8. Misty’s Arm

    The face-to-face meeting between Colleen Wing and Misty Knight is hardly the only moment of foreshadowing in terms of the pair following in the footsteps of their comic-book counterparts. Particularly in the case of Misty, who loses her right arm in the crossfire of the climactic battle between Colleen and Bakuto.

    In the comics, Misty loses an arm following a bomb attack and is subsequently fitted with a powerful, bionic arm, courtesy of Iron Man, himself, Tony Stark. In the Netflix corner of the MCU, Danny Rand is the resident billionaire, and at the hospital, Colleen provides Misty with some much-needed reassurance when she informs her that Danny owns the hospital and that it’s “a state-of-the-art kind of place” that should be able to “help [her] get back up and running.”

  9. Danny Rand, Protector Of Hell’s Kitchen?

    None of the previous Marvel/Netflix series finales have packed an emotional punch quite like The Defenders, which sees Matt seemingly sacrifice himself to save the city he loves. However, after his fellow Defenders believe that he’s been buried underneath a pile of rubble, we learn that Matt entrusted Danny with keeping New York safe, which sets up a closing shot of Danny, glowing fist and all, looking over Hell’s Kitchen from a rooftop.

    Given the team’s general attitude towards Danny in the show, Matt’s decision to task him with filling his shoes may seem odd, but it actually falls perfectly in line with the comics. During the events of Civil War, Matt Murdock’s identity had gone public. To make matters worse, the Man without Fear was also incarcerated at this time, surrounded by many of the people he helped put behind bars in the first place.

    Thankfully, Danny took it upon himself to lend a helping hand by donning the classic red-horned costume, effectively convincing the public that Murdock couldn’t be Daredevil. Then, once his brother-in-arms was cleared of all charges, Danny would once again resume the role of Iron Fist and likewise, Murdock would return to his responsibilities as Daredevil.

  10. ‘Get Maggie’

    In the conclusion of the final episode, we learn that Matt didn’t die when Midland Circle collapsed. While it isn’t entirely clear how, Matt managed to survive, and ended up under the care of a group of nuns, one of whom is watching over him as he begins to stir. After noticing that Matt is starting to come to, the nun says, “Get Maggie,” which – for fans of the comics – should be nothing short of a bombshell.

    Sister Maggie, AKA Maggie Murdock, is Matt’s mother, and a prominent figure in the iconic Born Again storyline, which sees Wilson Fisk nearly break down Matt to the point of no return. After being stabbed, Maggie helps nurse Matt back to health, and he’s eventually able to reclaim his life.

    Does this mean that Season 3 of Daredevil will attempt to adapt Born Again? All we can do is keep our fingers crossed!