Marvel’s team of superheroes known as the Defenders isn’t the most popular group of heroes. However, there was one particular timeline in which the fledgling team was the only one available to defend the world.
Traditonally, the Defenders is a group of solitary superheroes who regularly leave and rejoin the team to defend the world against all kinds of dangerous threats. With their constantly changing roster and no true team leader, the Defenders never stood toe to toe with the likes of the more stable superhero squads like the Avengers and the X-Men. But in Age of Ultron #7 (by Brian Michael Bendis, Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson), readers meet the Defenders from Earth-26111 who just so happen to be the offbeat team’s best rendition to date.
The Defenders Have A Reason to Exist
The Defenders, while often referred to as Marvel’s ‘street-level’ superheroes, never had their own place as protectors of Earth. In this timeline, Wolverine and Invisible Woman from Earth-61112 have traveled back in time to murder Hank Pym, which causes the Avengers to disband. This change also results in multiple wars threatening the citizens of Earth, and the Defenders come to the rescue.
The little structure of the Defenders actually works in this ultimate dystopian timeline, because the team is able to divide and conquer against the constant threats against their planet. For some time, the team is able to fend off the evil sorceress Morgan Le Fay and her Doombots with drones and airborne carriers crafted by Tony Stark. The Defenders also tend to forgo any concern around laws and government involvement in most timelines, including this one, so they don’t experience the same obstacles other superhero teams do.
The Defenders Have an Established Roster
On Earth-26111, the Defenders not only have an established leader, Tony Stark, but they also have all the benefits of a strong team to depend on. This Defenders roster is filled with alternative versions of Marvel favorites like Steve Rogers as Colonel America and Wolverine, who instantly smells the familiar scent on himself from Earth-61112.
There seems to be enough room in Stark’s carriers for two gigantic heroes, as both Hulk and the Thing are solid members of the team at this time who aid in capturing the time travelers and bring them to Stark to have their memories physically analyzed by Jarvis. Alongside Charles Xavier and Emma Frost, Stark discovers the horrors Wolverine and Summers tried to prevent from occurring on Earth-61112. In the midst of Stark berating Wolverine for messing with the sacred flow of time, Dr. Strange and Star-Lord notice the ambush of Morgan Le Fay’s army of Doombots as the carriers are surrounded.
Even The Best Version Of The Defenders Couldn’t Save Earth
When the Doombots attack, Scott Summers and Janet Van Dyne work alongside the team to protect Earth. Unfortunately, the Defenders weren’t anywhere near ready for the level of threat they received. Morgan Le Fay causes two of Stark’s carriers to collide resulting in an explosion that kills the entire team and destroys most of New York City. In his dying moments, Stark tries to convince Wolverine not to go back in time again to preserve the fragility of time. And by Age of Ultron #9 (by Bendis and Pacheco) the strongest Defenders Marvel ever had are gone. After the team’s time is cut short, it is hard for fans not to feel hurt that they didn’t get to experience more of this version of the Defenders.
The Earth-26111’s Defenders would definitely be able to shine if given more of a chance in the spotlight. With the intellectual strength of Tony Stark and Dr. Strange, alongside the immense physical power of the Hulk and the Thing, those four alone should’ve been able to handle an intergalactic threat like Morgan Le Fay. Ultimately, the team had to lose in order to convince Wolverine not to kill Hank Pym, but fans would love the opportunity to see these Defenders again.