Thoughts on Marvel’s Jessica Jones
SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON AHEAD. Be warned.
I loved Netflix’s Daredevil, so I was very excited for Jessica Jones. Krysten Ritter is a fantastic actress, who had her run on Breaking Bad and Don’t Trust the B* on Apartment 23 cut short. We’re very glad she is now part of Marvel Cinematic Universe, so let’s get it started.
Jessica Jones is unlike anything on the current MCU. The only thing I knew about her is that she’s located on Hell’s Kitchen, same as Daredevil. Soon I learned she has super strength. But there are a few reasons why this is such an unique Marvel show.
One of them is its constant graphic violence. We’ve seen bad guys beaten to pulps, with blood and injuries everywhere on Avengers’ movies. But not dismemberment or cold-blooded head shots at point-blank range. Did NYC criminals just become more aggressive for no reason?
Nope. Our culprit is Kilgrave, the villain of Jessica Jones’ first season, played by David Tennant. His superpower is arguably one of the most overpowered “gifts” a supervillain could get: mind control. Of course, it has its limitations (doesn’t work through speakers, etc) but Kilgrave can still basically dominate anyone around him. Talk about power trip.
Along the violence, comes death. Not only for Kilgrave victims, but for the man himself. The moral debate between Jessica and her friends is constant. How do you deal with him? No one man should have all that power. Would locking him up on a special cell for all eternity work? Well, they tried it. Even without actively mind controlling people, Kilgrave is manipulative and escaped.
If the man was tied to a rocket and sent to the moon, the possibility of his return would be there. After all, Kilgrave came back for Jessica. So, killing him… a more definite solution. Not what your average superhero would do, but hey, it’s Jess!
Thing is, Jessica already knows Kilgrave. Because he controlled her years ago and made her his puppet. He made her kill a woman and do countless things against her will. Without her consent.
Which brings me to the most important word and main theme of Jessica Jones: abuse. Imagine a relationship where one of the parties controlled the other. In several ways, this already happens with so many people. Doing things you don’t want to because you are afraid of the consequences. Afraid of your partner’s violence, of being alone, for instance.
The same occurred with Jessica, though she was literally mind controlled. The most scary thing about Kilgrave is his self-righteousness and completely distorted world view (heavily sexist and misogynistic). In his mind, it was never rape — he was shocked when she said the word. In his mind, they’re having free dinner at a fancy restaurant, staying for free at a five-star hotel, so naturally they’re going to have sex when they get home. In his mind, that’s what happens on a “loving” relationship, regardless if she wants to or not. In his mind, she should be thankful for everything.
Jessica’s traumatic past with Kilgrave is hardly the only form of abuse on the show. And the series does such an incredible job illustrating all of them. Another clear example is Trish’s (Jessica’s sister) and the cop Simpson. Their relationship is all fun and games at first. Then we learn he’s involved with some sort of combat enhancement drugs and a mysterious military program.
Simpson takes red pills for adrenaline and “sharpness,” at the expense of his basic human empathy, and ends up putting Trish through terrifying and extreme situations. Time passes and “he gets better.” Problem is, he still wants her. So Simpson shows up at her work, at her house, playing the nice guy, it-wasn’t-my-fault-it-was-the-drugs card. That’s abuse. That’s invading someone’s space and forcing them to reject you gently, because, who knows, maybe he’s pretending, maybe he’ll get unexpectedly violent again. Fuck. That. Noise.
Lastly, we get several flashbacks of Jessica and Trish’s childhood. Jessica was adopted and found her superpowers rather early. Trish was a child actor and suffered paternal abuse from her mother. The sisters find out about each other’s problems and make a pact. Don’t tell anyone about my superpowers and I won’t interfere on your relationship with your mom. But Jessica broke her word, once tired of hearing the mother forcing Trish to throw up after eating to keep in shape. Thank god Jessica was there to help her sister.
It’s tremendously important for a Marvel product to expose audiences to this harsh and disgusting problem, which is abuse. If friends or family opt for silence, maybe someone else can point out what’s wrong — and Jessica Jones loves speaking her mind.
Another reason Jessica Jones is a much needed TV show in times like these is because it features an heroine as the main character. *pause for applause* Not only that, but it’s filled with women.
But the interesting part is that they’re all different. Jessica and Trish are similar (traumatic past, and now they both kick ass), although Jones is a loner and Walker extroverted, but one of my favorite characters was Jeri.
Jeri, played by the great Carrie-Anne Moss, is a big shot lawyer, friends with Jessica. She’s married, falls in love with someone else, and gets a divorce. A nasty, painful divorce. Jeri is greed incorporate, early on. As an ambitious lawyer, she only thinks about winning cases and money, so naturally there’s disagreement when Jessica comes up to her with a new cases where the victim is blameless (if Kilgrave orders you to kill someone and you do it, is it your fault?).
As someone going through an emotional and gruesome divorce, Jeri makes mistakes along the season. You know, like a real person would. Of course the other characters make them as well, and it turns them into more realistic and flawed people, but perhaps for her lack of powers or self-defense skills, Jeri feels to me the most human. Her ex, Wendy, is also great because she’s the heart-broken half. There’s pain, rage, loneliness, disappointment.
So, thanks for that, Jessica Jones writers.
Lastly, you know how people feel when Agent Carter shows up on Captain America movies? It’s how I felt on the final episode, because the nurse Claire Temple (yes, Rosario Dawson from Daredevil!) has a big participation on it. This sort of crossover is exactly what Marvel fans want. Actually showing Murdock would be too large a treat, so by all means, bring us more awesome female characters!
Claire helped Jessica take care of Luke Cage (played by The Good Wife’s Mike Colter, also getting a Netflix Marvel show). She also interacted with Jones’ neighbor Malcolm, another regular but kind person like her. We’ve seen her development on Daredevil, but it’s nice to see Malcolm meet another hopeful and helpful human. I swear I almost shipped them for a moment.
I was in love with the show as soon as Krysten appeared on screen. The dark photography and excellent direction of Jessica Jones, along with all the reasons I just mentioned, kept me entertained thoroughly. It was truly impressive. Daredevil showed the power of a Netflix and Marvel combo, JJ went further, and now we wait for more.