Marvel tried to replicate its Avengers success on the small screen by launching four individual hero shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) and then combining the characters in the crossover mini-series The Defenders, spending big for some A-list co-stars. The shows were popular, leading to one spin-off in The Punisher, but many fans didn't realize just how well-connected the various actors were to other famous people. Now that we're catching up with The Defenders in The MCU Project, let's take this week to guess the relatives and partners of the stars of this corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.



Pat Weaver

This goo was worth a point in January 2024.

publication date: Saturday, January 6, 2024

category: Television

clue: This legendary NBC executive shaped television as a medium in ways still felt today (and tonight), such as networks developing their own shows and selling advertising time to sponsors instead of being at the mercy of sponsors producing their own shows.

explanation: Among Weaver's many contributions to television were creating Today and The Tonight Show, although the latter credit is disputed. more…

intended difficulty: easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: Weaver was the father of actress Sigourney Weaver, who played the primary villain Alexandra in The Defenders.


Cory Booker

This goo was worth a point in January 2024.

publication date: Friday, January 5, 2024

category: Government

clue: This Garden State senator and 2020 presidential candidate couldn't feel more at home in D.C., as if he was born there.

intended difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: From 2019 to 2022, Booker was in a relationship with actress Rosario Dawson, who played Claire Temple in five of the six Defenders-related shows.


Adam Schlesinger

This goo was worth a point in January 2024.

publication date: Thursday, January 4, 2024

category: Music

clue: Before his death from COVID, he tried impressing Stacy's mom with his bass playing, but his list of TV theme song compositions might have been more of an accomplishment.

explanation: Schlesinger co-founded the band Fountains of Wayne, best known for the hit "Stacy's Mom." He composed music, including theme songs, for a long list of TV shows and movies, which also licensed songs from his various bands including Ivy. He died on April 1, 2020, just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic. more…

intended difficulty: easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: Schlesinger was the cousin of Punisher actor Jon Bernthal.


Sheryl Sandberg

This goo was worth a point in January 2024.

publication date: Wednesday, January 3, 2024

category: Business

clue: Facebook's longtime #2 had to lean in to find success as a woman in technology.

explanation: Sandberg was the COO of Facebook (later Meta) from 2008 to 2022. Her 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, as well as the Lean In Foundation that she founded at the same time, advocated for more women in leadership roles in technical fields. more…

intended difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: Sandberg is the sister-in-law of Punisher actor Jon Bernthal.


Kurt Angle

This goo was worth a point in January 2024.

publication date: Tuesday, January 2, 2024

category: Sports

clue: Not many WWE and TNA wrestlers have Olympic gold medals in the sport, making it an unusual angle for his career.

intended difficulty: easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: Angle is the uncle-in-law of Punisher actor Jon Bernthal.


Adam Granduciel

This goo was worth a point in January 2024.

publication date: Monday, January 1, 2024

category: Music

clue: This indie rocker's grand creative partnership with Kurt Vile ended when they couldn't wage war together.

explanation: Granduciel co-founded The War on Drugs together with Kurt Vile after playing in Vile's backup band, but Vile left the group after one record to return to his solo career, leaving Granduciel as its only constant member. more…

intended difficulty: medium

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: Granduciel is the longtime partner of Jessica Jones actor Krysten Ritter, with whom he has one son.


Viola Davis

This goo was worth a point in January 2024. This was a bonus goo, so Steve West could not earn a point for it.

publication date: Sunday, December 31, 2023

category: Movies

clue: Mike Colter was bulletproof on TV, but his cousin gets away with murder in her better roles, as a woman king, a first lady, a suicide squad leader, and an EGOT recipient.

explanation: Davis starred in How to Get Away with Murder, The Woman King, The First Ladies, and the Suicide Squad films. more…

intended difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Richard Slominsky, and Erik Bates

trivia: Davis is the second cousin of Luke Cage actor Mike Colter.


Other Themes in January 2024

Tom Scott Plus

Popular and prolific YouTube star Tom Scott has been all over the globe, teaching viewers about all sorts of amazing places, and he recently celebrated his retirement with an elaborate helicopter stunt. His success is even more remarkable given his common name and how hard he can be to look up online, given the staggering number of Tom Scotts in the world. Which one of these seven would-be Tom Scotts is the real one is something you might not know. Go »