Marvel‘s latest live action offering is almost dominating the Novastream website at the moment, which is quite ironic considering that it has nothing to do with DC. Almost two weeks have past since Netflix dropped Jessica Jones, more than enough time for any binger to be caught up on the story. Former superhero, egotistical villain and friends. I also understand that not everyone has enough time/most people have lives and there are a few that haven’t finished the series yet. For that reason I will try to avoid spoilers in this article, except for the obvious, Jessica Jones is the best thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever produced.
So where does Jessica Jones get it right? Pretty much everywhere really, originality, characters, plot, direction, themes, acting… Let’s start with originality. When you think about it, a superhero that doesn’t want to be a superhero is quite an obvious subversion of the superhero genre but strangely it doesn’t get used that often. More than that, Jessica is not afraid to use her powers for selfish reasons and at times she’s quite the antihero. Jumping into a story halfway through is always a great technique to add to the overall mystique and it is such a relief that Jessica Jones is not another Goddamn origin story.
The characters are where this show really shines. All of the characters, even the secondary or minor characters are fully formed and there is no doubting their motives. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is badarse to the core, yet she still manages to keep a hold on her moral compass. It’s easy to understand that when you have superhuman strength and a fairly crappy upbringing, it’s second nature not to care how people think of you. Her best friend, Trish (Rachel Taylor) has had an equally crappy childhood and the only thing that has kept the two sane and honorable is their strong friendship. As a successful talk show host and former child star, Trish also doubles as the moneybags of the relationship, a trait that the writers haven’t exactly leant on so far but it is there if they need it down the line. Like I said the supporting characters are all equally interesting and while there are too many to talk about in depth, Malcolm (Eka Darville), Hope (Erin Moriarty), Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), Pam (Susie Abromeit), Robyn (Colby Minifie), Ruben (Kieran Mulcare) and Simpson (Wil Travel) all deserve a mention. Unfortunately Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was not as interesting as I had hoped, his character is just a little clichéd but I can see this all turning around in his own series. If you know anything about this series, you can see an obvious gaping hole in this list, Kilgrave (David Tennant). Prepare yourself for a big call because I think Kilgrave may even be a more interesting villain than the Joker! Kilgrave is the only villain in the MCU that I have ever sympathised with and I can completely understand how his ability to compel people to do his bidding could distort the mind. As David Tennant has been saying in interviews for the show, “If you had that ability, how can you claim that you would maintain the moral high ground?” It also doesn’t hurt that purple is my favourite colour as well.
For the most part the plot is brave, fast paced and incredibly tense. Melissa Rosenberg has been working on this show since December 2010 when it was to be aired on ABC so it’s clear to see that this has become her baby. That is what gives the feeling that the weaker storylines involving Luke Cake in the beginning had been thrust upon her shoulders by the powers that be at Marvel. Don’t worry, it’s no more than one or two episodes that drag a little before this show is right back on its feet, pulling no punches. The directing fits perfectly in with the plot and the darker themes of the show. It never gets in the way by going over the top but still manages to pull of some very impressive shots.
PTSD, addiction, abortion, abuse, sexism and rape are not the words you would generally associate with a MCU production. Well, maybe violence but Jessica Jones deals with these themes in a much more mature manner than any other MCU story. In fact this show is a lot bolder than most of the television shows I’ve ever seen. Every character has a dark secret and there’s no shying away from their mistakes without a brutal lesson first. Victims of Kilgrave are spread throughout all of the city but he’s not the only one to blame. Jessica often has to prove that she can hold her own and spits in the face of every judgment laid out at her feet. Proving that she is a hero in every sense of the word. Although some of these themes are a bit jarring when they are held up next to the other MCU properties. Daredevil fits in nicely but that is intentional and I think Marvel missed a trick by not creating a new universe unique to The Defenders. Still, it’s nice to get a few mentions of the green guy here and there.
Phew, I am exhausted. There is so much to praise and so little time (by time I mean motivation, I really want to go back and watch these all again now). Not one member of the cast faltered in their performance. I was quite surprised to find that Rachel Taylor is not the only Australian in the cast and I will bet you good money that you would not be able to pick the other two at first glance. The accents, the emotion and the sincerity are so obvious it oddly feels as if these people aren’t even trying. Krysten Ritter and David Tennant are getting all of the praise and rightly so but I would also like to single out Eka Darville and Colby Minifie. Oh and Erin Moriarty. Screw it, they are all amazing.
Three episodes was all that it took for Jessica Jones to be catapulted to the top of the MCU list for me. More than anything, I admire the courage of these scripts and I can not wait to see where the second season will take us. There are still a few loose threads left to tie up for the next season and I really hope Jessica Jones gets another chance to shine by herself before joining up with the rest of The Defenders. Kilgrave is an absolutely crazy, psychopathic sh*thead. Sorry, I just had to say that to prove that I wrote this article of my own free will.