This past Tuesday, November 17th I had the opportunity to attend the Marvel’s Jessica Jones premiere at the Regal E-Walk on 42nd Street in New York City. Thanks to Ali Abouomar of Social Lifestyle Magazine and 9 Panel, I was able to view the first two episodes of the highly anticipated second installment in Marvel’s Netflix programming. We were presented the first two episodes, “AKA Ladies Night” and “AKA Crush Syndrome” directed by S.J. Clarkson. As everyone is surely binge watching Marvel’s latest show, following this past April’s Daredevil, the series currently holds a 96% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Those discovering Jessica Jones over the course of their Friday and weekend will soon understand why it’s time to move along for Marvel’s Jessica Jones!
I. No Alias. Just Jessica Jones.
Jessica is about paying rent and getting the next client. She’s dealing with a fairly dark past. She’s trying to get through the day. She’s not really trying to save the city. She’s trying to save her apartment. At her core, she does share something with Matt Murdock, and he’s a little more aware of it, that she wants to do something good. She wants to contribute to the world. But, there are a lot of personality issues for her that can get in the way. – Melissa Rosenberg, showrunner.
Jessica Jones is a private investigator. Her firm is Alias Investigations on 485 W. 46th Street in New York City. She’s sardonic, tough, likes her booze, has super strength, and cannot shoot lasers out of her eyes. Jessica is played by Krysten Ritter who showcases an incredible commitment to the character created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. Ritter put on 10 pounds of solid muscle for the role and while she’s still quite slender, it’s never hokey when she lifts a car or helps defend friend, lover, and bar owner Luke Cage.
But it’s really not even about the physicality of Jessica Jones that Krysten Ritter convincingly pulls off with her all leather coat, jeans, boots, and scarf swagger. She’s portrayed as a real woman across 13 episodes and is one of the most human of Marvel characters since Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock. In fact, Ritter may very well have done an even better job at bringing to life Jessica Jones than Cox as Murdock.
II. A devil, but not the daring one. Kilgrave.
We all know David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who), Alec Hardy on Broadchurch, and Peter Vincent in Fright Night. We’ve seen countless loveable and cuddly gifs of him that are certain to make many fangirls and fanboys squee, but we’ve yet to see him as a character that would lock two children in a closet. This is Kilgrave.
Kilgrave, The Purple Man was a character from the 1960’s run of Daredevil. He appeared in issue 4 and has the ability to control the actions of those he comes into contact with through mere suggestion. He’s a manipulator, sociopath, and as I once read, but have since forgotten where – he’s the epitome of every abusive husband and boyfriend that you’ve ever known. And they cast David Tennant for this role?
Tennant owns the role of Kilgrave and while he doesn’t fully appear within the first two episodes; he’s rather heard and not shown, he’s poised to become the creepiest and most villainous in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After learning of Kilgrave through exposition in “AKA Ladies Night”, we quickly have forgotten about Wilson Fisk’s plan to take over Hell’s Kitchen. Kilgrave is played as a threat to not just Jessica Jones, but to the whole world. We’re legitimately scared for Jessica, but we’re also kind of frightened for New York City as well. A person with his abilities is outright dangerous and should be frightening. David Tennant plays him with such convincing charm and we grow to despise him immediately into the first episode.
III. Higgins Drive. Birch Street…
There’s more sexuality in Marvel’s Jessica Jones than anything else previously presented within the MCU. We not only have scenes depicting very real and very adult situations, but we also deal with the thematic material of rape. The cast and crew not once falter in their presentation of such material and respectfully treat it with care.
There will undoubtedly be talk concerning Jessica Jones and a young woman she attempts to help, particularly because it is revealed that they were both mind controlled and mentally and physically raped/abused by the same man – Kilgrave. As a result, Jessica suffers daily and has PTSD. One of the tactics she was taught in therapy is to remember the names of her hometown streets. She repeats them to herself whenever she has moments where the world and everything around her becomes too overwhelming.
It’s so rare that we get to see our heroes with flaws or dealing with issues many of us know too well.
IV. The Defenders
Over the course of 13 episodes of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, we meet Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Trish “Patsy” Walker (Rachael Taylor), and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss). Luke Cage is Power Man and fans have waited a long time to see him brought to life. He’s now a full member of the MCU and Mike Colter is used quite effectively throughout the season. After a rousing bar fight in episode two, his unbreakable skin and abilities “gifts” are showcased well enough to create more of an immediacy in waiting for his show to debut on Netflix sometime in 2016.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones, outside of being the next logical step in developing The Defenders for the MCU, certainly celebrates its women characters on the show. Trish Walker and Jeri Hogarth have been perfectly cast, especially Carrie-Anne Moss as the gender flipped Hogarth. Carrying the baggage of playing numerous authoritative, strong, and powerful women, Moss is perfect as Hogarth and plays one of the very few characters that can actually go figurative head to head with Ritter’s Jones.
Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker – she’s going to become Hellcat, yes? We’ve seen the character train in Krav Maga. Hellcat?
V. “You’re a good person, Jessica Jones.”
Marvel’s Jessica Jones will surely have fans and non fans alike speaking this weekend. Marvel’s Daredevil worked magnificently well and kept a momentum going through each episode. Marvel’s Jessica Jones begins with a solid first two episodes and continues to intrigue throughout the rest of the season. The real judgement of success will be of how much the series and Krysten Ritter’s performance will drive people to the comics.
I’ve enjoyed this series and it’s made me a fan of Jessica Jones. The character is so different than what we’ve come to expect from our Marvel heroes. The show does eventually address The Avengers, The Battle of New York, and The Hulk. While Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones retain a very independent feel as it operates just outside the context of the films, it’s set very much within the same world. Jessica Jones and Daredevil are very much the street level heroes; they’re the ones we’d probably encounter whereas we’d most likely never encounter the likes of Iron Man or Thor, aside from maybe seeing them fly overhead.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is now available to stream on Netflix. Stay tuned for more of our coverage of season one.