Marvel At This Atypical Hero That’s Worth Rooting For
I grew up watching film noir movies with my mother, a child of the ‘50s, who also grew up watching those same movies. You know the ones? The ones set in 1940s America, where there’s an endless sea of zoot suits and Lana Turner curly updos, with the private investigator who’s a tough, no-nonsense inner monologuing type hired by some “damsel” to take on a difficult case involving either murder, shady business dealings, missing persons, or a femme fatale (who usually turns out to be the “damsel”). I also grew up watching all things superhero, as most kids do. There’s something to be said about watching people with supernatural abilities fight off bad guys and rescue the day.
I think this is why I’m such an avid lover of television superhero shows, as well as television mystery dramas. So, I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I learned Netflix combined these two very different genres into one show. This show being Marvel’s Jessica Jones.
This show is adapted by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and is loosely based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name created by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Michael Gaydos. Marvel’s Jessica Jones follows lead character Jessica Jones (played by Krysten Ritter, Veronica Mars), who’s an ex-superhero turned private investigator in New York City, running her detective agency ‘Alias Investigations’ out of her apartment. Now, given the premise of the show, you might assume that this show involves Jessica solving a new case each episode, but you’d be wrong.
It’s more like Jessica solves a new case each season, rather than each episode. Season One focuses on Jessica trying to stop a man called Kilgrave (played by David Tennant, Doctor Who), and Season Two centers around Jessica dealing with the events of season one, while taking on a new case that forces her to look into her past.
One thing Marvel’s Jessica Jones has going for it, among other things, is the writing. This show’s dialogue is clever and witty, something you’d expect from a noir-like, superhero television show. I’d give examples, but I’d much rather have you watch the show to experience the amusing banter amongst its characters for yourself. The writers are also quite excellent at developing the characters and making them more than one dimensional. Furthermore, they do a phenomenal job of depicting the world in which Jessica, and the other characters within this show, live.
As you might have guessed, just based on the title of the show alone, the world of this show is set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. This basically means that this show is set in the same universe as the Marvel superhero movies and the Marvel television show counterparts. You can also see the character Jessica Jones within Marvel’s The Defenders miniseries, which also airs on Netflix. So to answer your question before you ask it, yes, crossovers within these Marvel television shows do occur.
Going back to character development, the characters within Marvel’s Jessica Jones are portrayed with a very real humanness to them. They are flawed individuals, neither leaning toward good or bad. They just feel real, though fictional. This is what I think makes the characters within this show so well rounded, because the characters behave and act as real people do.
You have Jessica Jones who is an ex-superhero with super-strength turned P.I., and who is an unapologetic alcoholic. She’s sarcastic, tough, and uses alcohol as a way of dealing with her emotional problems. But, she also deeply loves her friends and “family”, even though she’d never admit to it. Then there’s Patricia “Trish” Walker (played by Rachael Taylor, Grey’s Anatomy) a former child star, and recovering addict, who now hosts her own radio show. She is the best friend and adoptive sister to Jessica, and loves Jessica like a real sister, but is also secretly jealous of Jessica’s abilities. It’s this jealousy that causes “Trish” to make bad decisions within the show.
Finally, you have Jeri Hogarth (played by Carrie-Anne Moss, Brain on Fire). She’s a high powered attorney, and open lesbian, who enjoys being rich, powerful, and somewhat corrupt. Her only relation to Jessica is that she’s used her private investigation business for some of her cases. Even though she is all about power, she has been shown to be quite vulnerable at times.
I feel I have to mention that Marvel’s Jessica Jones is the only marvel show, currently, where the title is named after the lead female character, and where a female character is the lead of the show. I must say, I do love television shows with women leads. I especially love women leads in “superhero” shows/movies because it demonstrates how women ARE just as awesome, complex, and badass as male lead superheroes. I also like the fact that this show, like that of Veronica Mars, turns the typical noir-esque motif of women on its head. It’s always refreshing to see the woman be the private detective, rather than the stereotypical “femme fatale/damsel in distress” character.
As you probably can tell, I’m all about female empowerment in television shows. Far too often in television, women seem to be written as one dimensional, used as a device to further a plot or are just secondary characters with no real sense of agency. So having empowered female characters, even in leading roles typically monopolized by men, in television is important because representing real women starts by realistically depicting women in all of their many facets. This is something Marvel’s Jessica Jones has done perfectly, as have some other currently airing television shows with women leads.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones’s second season is currently out on Netflix, and I undeniably recommend giving it a watch. Not only because you can watch the entire thirteen episode season without having to wait every week for a new episode, but because the show itself doesn’t shy away from serious issues: rape, murder, and addiction. If that’s not enough to give it a watch, how about the exquisite writing and character development, as well as the great performances given by the show’s actors. All in all, if a show can make you wish you were a private investigator with superhuman abilities like it does me, then it’s obvious that Marvel’s Jessica Jones is one of the finest noir superhero, non-superhero shows around.