Marvel’s Jessica Jones premiered on Netflix on November 20th, 2015 with thirteen episodes. It is the second installment in Marvel Studios’ partnership with Netflix to create a Defenders franchise alongside the studios’ big screen ventures. This partnership was the reason behind the stellar first season of Daredevil, which to this day remains one of my favorite Marvel Studios creations. Jessica Jones stars Kristen Ritter as the titular character, David Tennant as Kilgrave, Mike Coulter as Luke Cage, Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker, Wil Traval as Will Simpson, Carrie Anne-Moss as Jeri Hogarth, and Erin Moriarty as Hope Schlottman.
The series follows superpowered and foul-mouthed private eye Jessica Jones as she is roped into battle with the terrifying Kilgrave. Jones must navigate a dense web of lies, corruption, violence, and deceit while also struggling with PTSD brought about by her last encounter with Kilgrave.
It is very important to note that Jessica Jones and Daredevil are two entirely different beasts. Daredevil was a somewhat grounded mystery action thriller whereas Jessica Jones is a much more subdued interpersonal drama with much more focus on relationships and much more fantastical science fiction elements. The action elements, though certainly there and certainly impressive at times, take a back seat to Jessica’s personal battles and her management of personal relationships in the midst of her horrifying struggle.
Jessica Jones is yet another win for Marvel Studios, who just can’t seem to make anything that can subjectively be qualified as “bad.” I will agree that both the Thor movies leave something to be desired, but they were still ultimately enjoyable. Regardless, that is an entirelt different conversation for another day. The major highlight of the series is undoubtedly the writing. The action is very good and certainly intense, but ttue moments of tension can be found when the punches are not flying.
David Tennant’s Kilgrave is Marvel Studios’ single most intimidating villian yet.He has the power of mind control. That’s his only power, otherwise he is just a normal sociopath. But he is also really friggin’ creepy. He doesn’t want to rule the world, although that could be easily achieved, he doesn’t need money, all he wants is the one thing he cannot have: Jessica Jones, and he will do whatever it takes to get her. He murders, manipulates, and schemes his way back into Jessica’s life, even forcing an innocent teenage girl whom he abducted earlier to kill her own parents in the elevator of Jessica’s apartment building in order to send her a chilling message, and that was just the first episode. Kilgrave formerly had complete and utter control over Jessica, she was forced to do whatever he wanted her to do, including commiting a various number of crimes…. and even nearly making her sever her own ear as punishment. The series is noted for dealing with sensitive subjects like sexual assault, abusive relationships, and domestic violence in such a way that it isn’t using something horrible like sexual assault as a cheap shock value plot point, but through allegory and metaphor, is able to have a genuine conversation about it without trivializing it.
Kilgrave, who is incapable of understanding true human emotion, really believes himself to be in love with Jessica. He sees himself as a hopeless romantic, the good boy after the good girl; his thoughts of what he thinks love really is just makes him that much more skeevy.
Kilgrave, despite being a reprehensible, immature, almost child-like sociopath, ends up being a sympathetic character in his own right.
Jessica Jones is not all doom and gloom, however, as David Tennant and Kristen Ritter also bring a healthy dose of humor and hilarity to the table without comprimising the serious nature of the narrative or the nature of their characters in the slightest.
Daredevil is great and a landmark achievement for both Netlix and Marvel Studios, with action sequences that rival that of big budget films. Jessica Jones opts to tell a tight, gut-wrenching, heart-twisting, in some ways terrifying, personal story about the right and wrong ways to deal with trauma. Impressively written and suprisingly not very preachy, in some ways, Jessica Jones does certain things better than any similar TV show ever will, which is both unexpected and welcome, seeing as it is wrapped up in a primarily superhero/science-fiction narrative. I cannot wait for the next season and am excited to see the character reappear in The Defenders in 2018.