REVIEW: Marvel’s Jessica Jones a binge-worthy thriller with balls to rival Daredevil
Anyone who still looks up their possessive, obsessive, manipulative ex-boyfriend on Facebook from time to time lives with the nagging compulsion to jump in and protect whichever smiling new innocent he now poses with on his arm. Superheroine Jessica Jones knows this feeling all too well; albeit in a much more dramatic and sinister way.
This dynamic between Krysten Ritter’s titular character and her arch nemesis cum former lover Kilgrave (David Tennant) lays the basic foundation of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Then, add in some bone-chilling abuse of telepathic powers and the insatiable sex drives of two superheroes, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the show, without this journalist violating her embargo.
“Be advised: this is no fluffy series”
The whole issue with ‘the ex’ perhaps explains why Netflix’s latest original has been advertised in such ‘women’s publications’ as fashion magazines and gossip sites. Or maybe that’s because Jessica Jones comes from Tall Girls Productions – the production company of Twilight saga screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. Yet be advised that this is no fluffy series. Marvel’s resident lonely girl Jessica is a rude, no bullshit kind of badass, who’s not afraid of slamming doors in people’s faces, downing a bottle of Jack Daniels in bed, or using language that would make Captain America retreat in horror (I am referring in particular to her lovely phrase: “I don’t give a bag of dicks”).
Keeping to a strict uniform of black tank tops, boyfriend shirts, jeans and a leather jacket, Jessica puts up the front of an ice queen who’s not to be messed with. “Don’t have feelings, okay?” she advises Rachael Taylor’s character Trish Walker. Yet as the series progresses, we learn that Jessica doesn’t keep friends because she doesn’t want to see them hurt. “My weakness? Sometimes I give a damn,” she confesses in voiceover. She may not want you to know it, but she’s kind, empathic, and not as tough as she looks. Underneath that super-strong exterior is a woman much like the protagonist of a Lana Del Rey song, rendered eternally fragile by the man she once loved, who now haunts her life like the cockroach that won’t leave her bathroom. And in spite of her struggle to maintain an emotional distance from the rest of the world, we rally for her to emerge victorious.
Much like Kingpin in Marvel’s Daredevil, Kilgrave’s unconventional villainy is precisely what makes him so disturbing. A malevolent master of mind-control, his seemingly omnipotent presence has us as paranoid as Jessica is that danger lurks around every corner, and in every shadow. His evil can take on any form, meaning no one can be let in, and no one can be trusted.
“The unbreakable Luke Cage proves that black literally don’t crack”
This brings us to the unbreakable Luke Cage. Played beautifully by live action Halo star Mike Colter, the honourable bar tender with superpowers of his own proves that black literally don’t crack; even when struck by a broken bottle, or attacked with a circular saw. Cage’s role in Jessica Jones is sure to convert many new devotees in advance of his own Netflix/Marvel series debuting next year, and the immaculate choreography of his joint fight scenes with Jessica will make fans of Daredevil think back fondly to that iconic one-shot hallway fight scene, or the raid on Madame Gao’s heroin cookout.
Other jewels in Jessica Jones’s crown include Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, a ball-buster lawyer who manages to put even the insubordinate Jessica in her place, and the previously mentioned Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker, whom we can safely assume is a new incarnation of Patsy Walker (A.K.A The Defenders‘ Hellcat). Importantly, the women in Marvel’s Jessica Jones are sharp, assertive and powerful as they try to survive independently in a corrupted city, yet not without empathy or weakness, meaning we finally have a ‘female’ superhero show that’s tough, dark, real, and doesn’t reek of tokenism.
The result is a decidedly more mature Marvel project which, coupled with Marvel’s Daredevil, marks a graduation from the shiny reds, whites and blues of The Avengers, and a move towards significantly more savage and cynical territory. We simply can’t get enough of it. Bring on The Defenders!