Ranked!: Superheroes You (Probably) Didn’t Know Were Defenders

Netflix’s highly anticipated Marvel team-up The Defenders is being delivered August 18th, and fans couldn’t be more excited…or could they?  What if I told you that some of your favorite superheroes at one time or another were a part of this low level crime fighting team?  Lies, you say?  Nay, I say!  Or something else that alludes to the fact that I’m telling the truth!  Come, let’s talk…
First and foremost, there’s something we need to discuss.  “The Defenders,” as we know it, thanks to the streaming behemoth known as Netflix, are not as they have often (see: ever) been in the comic book world.  Like so many of the properties before it, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, “The Defenders” did not become a household name until they were given the royal live-action treatment.  And while the treatment delivered to these individual characters was good (at times, great), the finished product that we are about to witness bares little resemblance to the team from which their name was taken.  A group of super-powered people just protecting their little corners of New York City is all fine and dandy fine, but the team was originally assembled to protect the world from threats more akin to the ones we’ll see the Avengers up against in Infinity War next year.

Pre-order The Defenders Volume 1: Diamonds Are Forever – Featuring Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist

Doctor Strange, the Incredible Hulk, & Namor the Sub-Mariner (think Marvel’s more ridiculous version of Aquaman…yes, that’s possible) are the OG Members of the group, officially forming in December of 1971 in Marvel Feature #1.  And who, might you ask, was the “big bad” to bring 3 amazing heroes together?  An alien techno-wizard by the name of Yandroth.  I s— you not.  Silver Surfer joined the group soon after, and the proverbial revolving door of superheroes known as “the Defenders” have been a Marvel staple (albeit, a very small one) ever since.

So who ELSE was a part of this team at one point or another?  Well, that’s the whole reason I’m writing this, so if that’s a question you just asked yourself, you’re in luck.  Without further ado, I present…

The Top 10 Defenders Who You Probably Didn’t Know Were Defenders Because the Only Defenders Most Have Heard of are the Defenders on the Marvel Netflix Show the Defenders


10. Ant-Man (Scott Lang)

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Defenders Vol. 4, #10 (2012)*

In this first issue, our favorite (2nd) miniature hero joins a team frequented by the Silver Surfer, Black Cat and Iron Fist, among others.  So just like in the MCU, Scott Lang was more than likely star struck by a team that includes a man who looks like a runner up Oscar, a beautiful feline inspired woman, and a dude with a really powerful hand and an awful tattoo.

*= first appearance as a Defender, clearly.

9. War Machine

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Secret Defenders #9 (June 1993)

Brought in by Dr. Strange to help Norrin Radd, the Surfer, find the daughter of Thanos, Nebula before she wreaks havoc on the cosmos.  Why is he chosen?  Essentially, because no one knows who he is, least of all Nebula, and she won’t see it coming.  Ridiculous? Yes.  Does he still look like a bad-A mofo on the cover?  Sure does.

Marvel Legends Infinite Series Marvel’s War Machine

8. Hawkeye

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Defenders #7 (August 1973)

Nice to know that while eventually becoming a background Avenger, he had already been a background Defender.  Kidding, Hawkeye is great.  But background great, not up front, Iron Man great.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (Marvel NOW!)

7. Valkyrie

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Defenders #4 (February 1973)

Several iterations of the Valkyrie character have been part of Defender’s teams over the years, but the original version dates back to the early 70’s.  While this first version was created by Marvel’s Enchantress by combining the spirit of Brunnhilde the Valkyrie with that of a magic using mortal, I’m sure I can speak for most when I say I’m geared up to see Tessa Thompson’s version of the bad ass character in Thor: Ragnarok in November.

Marvel’s Valkyrie: Volume 1 on Amazon

6. Drax the Destroyer

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Secret Defenders #25 (January 1995)

Before becoming a Guardian of the Galaxy much later in his “career,” Drax was a one time Defender.  Ironically enough, the series was cancelled after this issue.  Was Drax destined to become a Guardian…or was the storyline just that bad?  A question we may never know the answer to…or you can read that arc, and realize it might be a combination of both.

5. Wolverine

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #374 (March 1993)

Brought into the “secret” group to help in a fight with the “new” Fantastic Four, he ends up attacking Sue Richards and nearly decapitating Ben Grimm, aka The Thing.  Is this shocking? No.  It’s a cautionary tale.  Don’t work up the Rabid Wolverine into a Berserker Rage!

4. Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Secret Defenders #4 (June 1993)

Sooooooooo, Wikipedia says that Captain America (and Scarlet Witch, for good measure) are a part of the Defenders team in this issue.  So I read the issue, and they are actually nowhere in it.  I don’t know how I feel about it, but I’m still putting this in here so you are aware that the internet is full of lying a–holes.  Fake News!

Fantastic Four vs. The Fantastic Four with the Secret Defenders


3. Colossus

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Last Defenders #1 (May 2008)

To finally give the Defenders team a stable roster, Tony Stark assembles a 4 man team that was anchored by this man of metal.  The ironic part?  Their first mission was a colossal (get it? zing!) failure, and Colossus left the team within the pages of the very next issue.

X-Men: Colossus: God’s Country

2. Deadpool

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Secret Defenders #15 (May 1994)

His first time meeting Luke Cage, Deadpool finishes off the group that Luke beats the hell out of.  What I’m saying is, Deadpool killed them.  I know that’s out of character, but yeah.  Deadpool is deadly. lolz, classic Deadpool.

Deadpool and the Secret Defenders on Amazon

1. Spider-Man (Peter Parker)

Image: Marvel.com

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #374 (March 1993)

Needing to find a wanted Human Torch, Ol’ Web Head goes to the Sorcerer Supreme for help in the matter.  They form a new set of Defenders consisting of Spidey, Dr. Strange, the Hulk, Wolverine and the Ghost Rider.  They begin to battle the F4, and the latter are teleported away by Uatu the Watcher in Fantastic Four #375 to the blue area of the moon.  Why?  Who the f— knows, comics were straight bonkers in the 90’s.  Don’t believe me?  Go look at the cover of #375 and take a look at the bats— crazy outfit Sue Storm was in.  It truly is insane.  But yeah, Spider-Man was a Defender.

Essentially, this list has absolutely nothing to do with Netflix’s Defenders series, and no real relevance to your life, but hey, thanks for reading.  You’re the best (and the check is in the mail.)

What do you think? OK for Marvel to reinvent the Defenders for Netflix? Hate the idea? Leave a comment below.

Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time husband, full time father, and full time superhero enthusiast.  He plans on getting exactly 1 and 1/2 hours of sleep this weekend, since he’ll be binge-watching The Defenders.

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About thesweetestlou 65 Articles
Full Time Teacher. Full Time Husband. Full Time Father. Lover of: Superheroes, Punk Rock, Tattoos, Sabres, Bills, Yankees, Soccer, Pizza, Coffee

1 Comment

  1. I Love it when you use and then cross out words. Makes me giggle every time. Well done as always. That defenders team with Wolvey and Ghost Rider would have been BAD ASS AS Fword

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