By: BRYAN REYNOLDS
Jessica Jones is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, released on Netflix Nov. 20. It is unlike anything else Marvel has made thus far. Gone are the epic battles against invading aliens, sentient robots, and criminal masterminds, instead Jessica Jones is a personal story of a victimized woman regaining her strength and courage while hunting down her attacker.
Title character Jessica Jones, portrayed by Krysten Ritter, is a super powered private detective in New York City. She might have super strength, but Jessica is not a superhero. Recent trauma has turned her into a hard-drinking, angry mess. By the end of this show’s first episode we discover that recent trauma was being enslaved by a man named Kilgrave, portrayed by David Tennant. Kilgrave also has a super power, he can make anyone do anything he tells them to. Kilgrave had control of Jessica for an unspecified amount of time before an accident presumably killed him six months before the show begins. The relationship between these two characters is what makes this show so interesting.
Despite her damage, it is evident early on that Jessica cares about other people. She genuinely wants to help Kilgrave’s other victims as he has many more besides Jessica. But her time with Kilgrave has tainted her. Sometimes she has a difficult time doing the right thing and hates herself for it. This complexity is played to perfection by Ritter, bringing a humanity to Jessica that is lacking in many of the big screen Marvel heroes. This can also be said about Kilgrave.
Kilgrave is not out for world domination or a magical artifact. Kilgrave exists only to satisfy his whims. If he needs a ride he compels someone to chaperone him around for a week. If he wants a woman he simply tells her to have sex with him and she does. David Tennant makes Kilgrave likable and charming like a sleazy car salesman. Just when he starts to seem like he’s not that bad, he turns it on full swing to show just how evil he is. Jessica Jones is not going to appeal to everyone. If it were a movie it would be rated PG-13 and it is rated TV-MA on Netflix. There are a few realistic sex scenes throughout the 13 episodes; no romantic music swelling in the background, the scenes are just two people having sex. The show is frank about its exploration of rape, and in one episode depicting an abortion conceived through rape. Kilgrave is a serial rapist. Even his mind control is presented as a form of rape. When he controls someone they remember everything he does to them and makes them do, and Jessica Jones explores the consequences of that pain. These subjects might turn some people off to watching the show and makes it completely unsuitable for children.
What makes the show so spectacular, however, is that it isn’t a big spectacle with flashy CGI battles. It’s a story told from the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. Jessica Jones isn’t a superhero; she’s a private dick trying to protect the common people from barely human filth, ‘bad guys’ the Avengers are too high and mighty to bother dealing with.