Jessica Jones is Marvel’s latest small-screen Netflix-only series. Starring Krysten Ritter, and like its precursor Daredevil, it takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but on a much smaller scale than The Avengers movies and the like. Jessica Jones takes place in New York City and largely in Hell’s Kitchen. And unlike many other Marvel heroes to date, she has a real level of complexity to her. Jones, the character, is an alcoholic who suffers from PTSD, who once tried to be a superhero but failed and who once wore a costume but now eschews it for jeans, a tank top and a black jacket. She is the MCU’s first anti-hero and she has taken up life as a private eye when her previous life comes back to haunt her.
It’s one of the interesting things about the series that it takes place after what would have been a very interesting and exciting part of her life. That the series picks up after such a period speaks somewhat about the series itself. Jones, as a character, is fairly static. She has something to chase, revenge to commit, and her character is entirely directed towards it. Instead, it is the people around her who provide the humanity and who are the more interesting characters.
And the most interesting character is the villain Kilgrave, played by David Tennant. His character is the most complex, receives the deepest explanation of his past and why he is evil and has the best scenes. Kilgrave is a severe sociopath, is sadistic, a slave master and a rapist. Though Kilgrave’s aims are perhaps the most modest of any MCU villain to date (he isn’t after global domination), he is also the most developed and is the most sinister.
You can tell from reading this that the series gets dark, even gruesome. It is way bloodier than Daredevil and more mature in tone. And in being bloody it had me jumping off the couch a number of times, both in shock and excitement, in a way that few other series have accomplished.
But while that is high praise, the series falls short of being truly excellent. Marvel could have taken this long overdue opportunity to make its first female lead character a full character instead of someone whom is entirely directed towards revenge. They didn’t really explore the character so much as the series explained her and then used her to introduce us to a more interesting antagonist. And it is in fact the villain that makes this series what it is, which is great in part but not overall. Hopefully the next season of Jessica Jones provides a more in-depth look at someone who should be the most interesting characters in Marvel’s wheelhouse.
Jessica Jones is available to stream on now on Netflix
Cover Iogo imago provided by Netflix.