“Who the fuck is Jessica Jones?”
Sorry to start off on such a strong note amigos, but that was an actual quote I took from a forum I found when looking for reactions to Marvel’s announcement of their plans to develop a TV series of this character. Their groundbreaking deal with the video streaming service ‘Netflix’ meant they were giving an opportunity to some of the lexicon of characters that had yet to make an appearance within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s certainly not unfair to say most geeks response to the news that Jessica Jones would be joining Daredevil, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, was to utter a collective ‘meh’. Now, I know that ‘meh’ is not exactly a Oxford English Dictionary term, but it’s the only thing that I can think of that accurately describes the apathy ( and outright hostility from some forums I saw) That seemed to greet the news.
I’m not one of those who gave a shrug of the shoulders though, I’m just as excited about the prospect of Jessica Jones making her bow on our televisions as I am about all the other characters heading to ‘Netflix’. I feel a lot of that reaction comes from a misunderstanding of what this character represents and just why Jessica is a perfect fit for Marvel’s grand plan for their TV Universe, so this post will be a staunch, biased defense of Marvel’s decision and of Mrs Jones Campbell Cage.
When Marvel launched it’s adult oriented imprint ‘Max’ in 2001, the 1st series they choose to launch with was a comic called ‘Alias’. Not to be confused with the Jennifer Garner led TV series (and about as far removed from that show as it gets), the book written by Brian Michael Bendis featured a character created by he and artist Michael Gaydos called Jessica Jones. Jones is a private eye based in downtown New York City. She’s a PI in the greatest Hollywood traditions, laconic, cynical and somewhat narcissistic, but with one exception. Jessica was once a Superhero, a defender of the downtrodden and role model to millions yet now she is a lowly investigator, rubbing shoulders with drug dealers and society’s degenerates. Her clients are spouses trying to catch their errant partners in acts of infidelity and often taking out their frustrations on her. Immediately, Bendis establishes that Jessica Jones is not your average former Superhero. She drinks, smokes and curses with abandon and seems to be on a collision course with the oblivion of a life consumed by regrets and addictions. As her story develops within the 1st few issues, we begin to learn more about Jessica why she has become the person she is. She once worked alongside none other than The Avengers, known as the hero Jewel. An encounter with Daredevil villain Zebediah Killgrave a.k.a The Purple man left her deeply scarred psychologically and emotionally. She lost the trust of her fellow heroes and seemingly disappeared into obscurity, forgotten by the public that once adored her and colleagues that respected her. It’s a fascinating choice to place Jessica through these trials and also presents her as a character that is instantly relatable. Who amongst us hasn’t been through difficulties that don’t feature ways to save the world from the clutches of a Supervillain? Most of us reading this I would say if I had to guess. The negative aspects of our past have a way of haunting everything we see and do, and Jessica’s troubles are no different to any one of ours when you strip away the fantastical setting and more extreme elements.
For a female character to be presented in this way is also very interesting. Her contemporaries may all have their issues, but largely speaking they handle them with consummate ease. Jessica Jones is the 1st female comic book character that I had encountered from a major comic book house that wasn’t ‘perfect’. Her on off relationship with Luke Cage mainly features savage sex followed by guilt and self loathing mixed with repressed feelings. So part of my excitement around seeing Jessica Jones on the big screen is based around seeing how the writers will handle such a grounded and troubled character. It’s something we have seen in glimpses in superhero TV shows before, but my hope is that we get to delve into the psyche of a character with some serious ‘baggage’.
Now, seeing a character with complexity is all good and well, but lets be honest with each other shall we? Jessica Jones is a superhero, so what we all want to know is, will we see her kicking some ass? I’m pretty confident that the answer to that question will be an emphatic yes. If her comic book exploits are anything to go by, Jessica is more than capable of holding her own against most enemies. During the ‘Alias’ storyline, She clashes with a number of opponents. In one memorable confrontation, she is attacked by Cain Marko aka Juggernaut whilst in her car. Marko thinks he has Jessica right where he wants her, but he soon realises to his cost just how big a mistake he has made in underestimating her. She quickly turns the tables on him and leaves him with such a beating that he left unconscious. How many mutants or others have managed to do that to old Juggernaut? Then, to add insult to injury, she tosses his lifeless body on to a golf course like some much old rubbish. Now I don’t know about you all, but I for one want to see a bad ass on my TV screen that can go toe to toe with many of the Marvel Universe’s heavyweights. Of course, we are talking about a TV show, so i’m not expecting to see ‘Man Of Steel’ levels of destruction as Jessica tears up the city whilst confronting her enemies, but it will be fascinating to watch a female character kicking some ass, thats what we all want right?
I think that Jessica is the logical choice to join Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist on Marvel’s roster of TV characters as her relationships with all of those characters mean there should be plenty of room for growth and development for her alongside the others. She brings a unique dynamic to the group and it will be intriguing to see what role she will play in the planned Defenders TV event. I think she will represent the everyman character amongst the group, the one who will ask the questions that we the audience are likely to ask, the one who we can most relate to on a human level, who will face up to the challenges we all face in one way or another. Frankly speaking, it will be refreshing to see a female character on our screens again who is far from a shrinking violet, especially one from a comic that I really enjoyed reading. Agent Carter’s eminent arrival also holds some promise, and i’m in love with Hailey Attwell so she can do no wrong in my eyes. But Jessica Jones is the contemporary female hero I am most looking forward to seeing. Witty, perceptive, confused and yet extremely powerful, she is a messed up bag of contradictions and excitement. Provided her character is well written and we have good scripts for her stories, I think she could prove to be a ‘breakout’ character that influences popular culture in a way that other female superheroes haven’t. We have no reason to doubt her just yet, as the creative team that Marvel have assembled for the Daredevil show certainly bring a wealth of experience to the table, and if they can do the same for the other shows, I think we will be hearing the name Jessica Jones for some time to come.