Almost fourteen years to the month Jessica Jones first appeared in a comic we now have her entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU for short). It should be said, that anyone born on or after the time of her first comic appearance are probably not ready for this character’s entry in Netflix’s brand new Jessica Jones series. Depending on the person, some born before this date may not be ready as well.
In the comics, Jessica Jones is a “recton” character, in that although her first appearance happened in 2001, she was supposed to have been a short-lived Avenger prior her first appearance (along with having a crush on Peter Parker prior to him being bit by an irradiated spider). It didn’t work out for her, and she ended up becoming a private detective. While her stint as an Avenger is ignored in the Netlfix series, there are still references to her life as an attempted superhero before. Her comic is well known not only for bringing sexually explicit content into Marvel’s main continuity, but also her comic is considered the first Marvel comic to drop an f-bomb. While the MCU has stayed away from f-bombs and nudity, the Jessica Jones TV series rides the cusp of those two standards.
Just to make things clear, I have only watched (and rewatched because they were really good) the first three episodes of this series prior to writing this review. This makes it impossible for me to hint at anything that may be considered true spoilers, but I’ve watched enough I feel to gauge whether or not it is worthwhile for you to watch. And just in case you wish to not be bothered reading any further: you should watch this show.
First, the writing and direction of the series are fantastic. While the Daredevil series from earlier this year was just as great, this series differs enough from that series to set itself apart. First off, the direction is much less “artsy” than the Daredevil series, and tends to stick into a more tradition sense of staging and camera work. This series isn’t as concerned with creating epic and awe-inspiring camera shots, instead it feels it is looking for a much more grounded and personal feeling aesthetic, which works remarkably well. It would’ve been easy to use noir tropes for this entire series, but the little that are used give an authenticity rather than feeling cliché. And the writing is spectacular. The humor in the series, what littler there is, feels true to the dark tones of the series and the sarcasm of the character. While in other situations they tend to stray away from the typical “girl-power” and other quasi-feminist tropes in superheroine stories, giving it not only an unusually strong female protagonist, but also an un-alienating quality that easily hooks the viewer without them feeling the story is being politicized even with a strong, independent female lead. This may well be the very first series to EVER accomplish BOTH of these important things!
Secondly, in terms of acting everyone is fantastic. Krysten Ritter is perfect for the role of Jessica Jones. There is an ease with her both as an asshole and as a hero that borders on putting RDJ’s Stark performance to shame. And Mike Colter as Luke Cage is great casting. There is a gentleness along with a no-nonsense personality that he brings to life which I had always loved about the character in the comics. Oh, and Ritter and Colter together… maybe we don’t see any nudity, but those two create some great sexual chemistry together.
David Tennant plays Kilgrave, known in the comic as The Purple Man. While most of his character’s evil and sociopathy is portrayed in its effects on his victims, what little we see from him on screen in the first three episodes is absolutely brilliant. There is a reason he is my second favorite Doctor, and now my second favorite MCU villain (Tom Baker and Loki are my firsts, if you were wondering).
Another surprising performance comes from Rachael Taylor as Trish (Patsy) Walker. When this casting was announced I wondered how much she was going to be like her comic book version, and am happy to see that there is the potential growth already in the early episodes to imagine seeing Hellcat potentially in future series of this show. It is kind of funny, if you pay close attention to her first scenes in the first episode she is obviously still working on her American accent and slips in an out back to her Australian accent on a few words. This is obviously from the rapid pace which they filmed this series because by the second episode she has her accent down fine, and her scenes of action are handled extremely well. Carrie-Anne Moss also does a fine job in her role. I’m hoping her character and her character’s subplot are continued to be explored and expanded in further episodes, because although they are interesting, they do feel a bit like after thoughts still three episodes in.
The Bottom Line:
All-in-all, Marvel’s Jessica Jones is great and raises the bar on Marvel TV (one set exceeding low by Agents of SHIELD and brought back up by Agent Carter and then set even higher by the brilliant Daredevil). But I’d be remiss if not warning you on the very adult subject matter of the series. This was also the subject matter of the comic in the final issues (well, there was adult subjects throughout but this one specifically), so most Jessica Jones fans are aware, but if you are new to this character you may not know. The plot of this series revolves around a man who can make people do what he tells them to do. This brings in the subject of obviously a psychologically abusive relationship, but also hints very strongly at sexual abuse. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend this series to most adolescents (or younger) or anyone with a sensitivity to the subject of sexual abuse. I do think it is handles very modestly and respectful in the series, but still I’m sure there are some who prefer to stay away from movies/television that go in that direction. But, for those of you, you still have Supergirl.
But other than that caveat, I can’t recommend this series enough. It is an intelligent and deep character driven drama that occasionally has a strong woman throw someone into a wall. It is what every female lead superhero series will want to be, but will all be too scared to try to be. If Daredevil wasn’t enough of a reason for you to give Netflix a try, this series may be the test of how cheap you are to pay for a great series. -9.8/10
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine