Promoted as a non-team throughout most of the original series, the Defenders never agreed on what being a team even meant.
During a chance encounter with the Hulk, Hawkeye was confused to learn that the green goliath was on his way to see Dr. Strange (Defenders #7). But Valkyrie and Sub-Mariner were around the corner, ready to explain their different perspectives about how the unlikely allies now worked together.
- Valkyrie: That's easy, Hawkeye. Stephen Strange is our leader in the Defenders!
- Namor: Hold, Val! Jump to no conclusions, Archer--the Defenders is merely a name, and no more. At times we battle together against a common foe--but the Defenders is not an alliance … There is no leader, no rules, no charter such as in your Avengers.
- Valkyrie: At any rate, Hawkeye, we were also going to Stephen's Sanctum. Why not join us?
- Namor: For the walk only, Archer!
Had they contrasted themselves to the X-Men or Fantastic Four—rather than the Avengers—the differences between the teams wouldn't have seemed so great. Of course, even those similarly informal groups had a shared origin or standardized uniforms—for more cohesion than the Defenders usually had.