A riveting show

If I were to rank Marvel’s recent Defenders Netflix series, I’d put it more or less even with the second series of Daredevil and below Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the first series of Daredevil. I didn’t watch Iron Fist when it came out, based mainly on the awful reviews. Now, after seeing the Danny Rand character in Defenders, I feel good about that decision.

But this post isn’t about the quality of The Defenders or the ins and outs of its plot. For that, I suggest you subscribe to the Defenders episodes of The Incomparable’s TeeVee podcast, with Lisa Schmeiser, Phil Mozolak, and Tony Sindelar. They’re going to do ten episodes: an introduction, one for each episode of the show, and—I assume—a wrapup. The introductory episode was posted a couple of days ago.

What I want to talk about here is something that made me smile in the last episode of the show. I don’t think this is any kind of spoiler, but if you’re super sensitive about that, stop reading.

Claire Temple (the Rosario Dawson character who’s all over the Marvel Netflix series) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) go into the bowels of a brand new high-rise armed with explosives to bring the building down.

I’m not going to complain that they seem to go to only one column in the building, nor am I going point out how unlikely it is that a nurse and a martial arts specialist would be able to find the key column based on a single architectural drawing. I’m not even going cast doubt on the ability of a mere architect (as opposed to a structural engineer) to determine which column is the key.

No, I’m just going to say how funny I found it when we finally get to see this all-important column. Here’s our first view of it, in the background just left of center:

Defenders column 1

Here’s a closer view, as they start stacking the packages of explosive around it:

Defenders column 2

Look at those beautiful rivets. The art department did a great job making sure they look rough instead of pristine. They even misaligned one of the rivets in the bottom row to give the column a gritty verisimilitude. Even a superhero show benefits from attention to detail like this. Except…

Rivets aren’t used in buildings anymore and haven’t been in decades.

That doesn’t mean, though, that it was wrong for the set designer to make up a fake column with fake rivets. Rivets say “steel structure”—even to those of us who know better—in a way that bolts and welds simply don’t. It’s a kind of skeuomorphism. Despite it looking completely unlike any steel structure built in the past half-century or so, it manages to draw on some cultural memory and seem right.

It’s like the Save button icon that looks like a floppy disk. Nobody’s used floppies in a dozen years or more. Many full-fledged adults have never even seen one. But through some sort of self-perpetuating habit, we see those buttons and think “save.”

Anyway, my thanks to the makers of The Defenders for some unplanned entertainment.