The panel kicked off with Executive Vice President of Marvel Jeph Loeb receiving the Inkpot Award for Excellence in Comics and TV and Film. The surprises continued as Loeb gathered the cast of The Defenders together for a Q&A and announcements: Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Finn Jones (Danny Rand), Sigourney Weaver (the mysterious Alexandra), Elodie Yung (Elektra), Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing), and showrunner Marco Ramirez.
The first of the surprises was an appearance by Jon Bernthal, who stars as the titular character in The Punisher (debuting in late 2017). He showed up with a preview clip of the series, where he shoots, runs over, and strangles his victims to death. To say it will inspire a wealth of thinkpieces would be putting it mildly, but it also looked great.
Loeb also announced that Iron Fist will be getting a second season, which, um... I guess. It was Netflix's most binged drama premiere, after all. But Loeb talked about how much Netflix was impressed with Bernthal and immediately wanted a Punisher series, so when are we getting that Misty Knight series?
Ramirez discussed how he planned to treat The Defenders differently than Marvel treats its normal superhero shows. He said that these characters are more “grounded” and if the films have their characters fighting in the skies, then The Defenders fight in the “back allies.” Ramirez was also quick to point out that the show gives equal weight to each character so that The Defenders feels like its own entity and not like they're visiting one anothers' Netflix series.
As fans of Daredevil know, Yung’s character Elektra, the deadly assassin from Daredevil's past, died at the end of season 2. Her revival in The Defenders remains a secret for now, but Yung said that she was brought back with amnesia and trained by Weaver's character to take on the back-alley superheroes.
At the conclusion of the panel, the first episode of The Defenders was screened for audiences in Hall H — the elusive mega hall where all of the major studios and networks get to screen their content and fans wait in line overnight for the chance to get in. The first episode follows the usual business of introducing you to all the characters who'll be leading this team. And fans were visibly and audibly excited during the premiere.
Fans eager to get in on the Defenders action were also treated to activations (basically, the Comic-Con term for installations where you can wait in line to take Instagrams with paraphernalia from your favorite shows) recreating an NYC Subway station sign branded with The Defenders logo and a recreation of Pop's Barbershop from Luke Cage.