What would Jessica Jones do?

Mar 11, 2016

With Daredevil season two a week away, I think it’s about the right time to compare it, not to its first season - which was a 10-out-of-10 for me, but to another of Marvel’s Netflix series: Jessica Jones. For those who have seen it, if asked what was a highlight, they’d most likely all mention Kilgrave. I couldn’t do this villain justice the way our own Sarah Payne-Mills wrote in her review of the show:

Kilgrave, who has the power of mind control, is the epitome of a temper tantrum gone wrong—he doesn’t like hearing “no.” Mind control is his way of constantly controlling his environment. Taking autonomy and the ability to challenge him out of the equation, he demands, like a child, people to do what he wants, when he wants. His requests are usually sadistic and psychotic (and sometimes very literal) forms of self-torture, asking people to put their hand in a blender, throw coffee in their face, shoot themselves in the head, stab themselves with scissors, or even go f— themselves. His desire for women to smile, however harmless it may appear as compared to his other demands, exposes the everyday, and real, sexism women face. It’s as if his demands come from the deepest, darkest corner of the human psyche that’s void of all empathy and remorse. Nature versus nature is a major theme threaded throughout the season, especially in regard to Kilgrave’s erratic behavior—how much of it is innate, and how much is due to his socialization? As Jessica says, “Everyone is born a hero, but if you let it, life will push you over the line until you’re the villain.”

Tennant’s portrayal of the ruthless and disturbing, yet charming, Kilgrave is incredible. His longing for revenge, and unwillingness to move on from Jessica after she rejects his demented declarations of love, is the show’s main story arc. He makes Jessica feel like an infection, with everyone she comes in contact with dead and dying all around her. The plot’s intense focus on Kilgrave sometimes makes it feel a bit too tight and leads other storylines to appear like fillers rather than essential narratives. However, the constant twists and turns keep the show thrilling and engaging, even when the pacing slows down. When the show gets to be monotonous, something shocking is right around the corner.

Creeped out? Be rest assured, even when he doesn’t appear on-screen, Kilgrave has an affect on not only the characters in the show but also the audience. As I watched I felt extremely uncomfortable, and yet due to an unforgettable performance by David Tennant, I longed to see more of him. That’s the villain DD needs for its new season. It had that in Wilson Fisk (AKA Kingpin), played by Vincent D’Onofrio, but can it do it again?

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The inclusions of Frank Castle (AKA Punisher) and Elektra Natchios should provide for some interesting and on the nose questioning of what DD does; especially with the former. Interactions between DD and Punisher should make for exciting character moments, because the man without fear brutalizes with his fists and billy club. According to Mr. Castle that’s a half-measure, whereas he acts in full measures. Reminds me of a straight to digital show called Breaking Bad.

Aside from Kilgrave, another element of JJ that made the show so incredibly amazing was each of its characters’ depth. Some of DD’s were a bit flat.

  • Karen Page: One-way love interest.
  • Foggy Nelson: Whines after he discovers Matt has been lying.
  • Ben Urich: Skeptic turned whistle blower to eventually being horrifically murdered by Kingpin.

Those are just three among others who came off like archetypes. JJ had characters with enough backstory that you could care about them and feel invested in any one of them. To name a few, Trish Walker; Jeri Hogarth and Pam (cough, cough #Pamgarth); Will Simpson; and Luke Cage.

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Another thing DD should do is embrace more darkness on top of what it already has established. It needn’t be afraid to address touchy subjects the way JJ does organically and tastefully (e.g. rape, PTSD, addiction, abortion…). More of that in DD, heck any medium, would make it refreshingly inclusive.

Oh, and also more sex. Break some beds, Matt! Sweet Christmas!

As I wrote in my review of season one, DD had “rare moments of filler. But there’s so little that it can be ignored and overlooked. … The terrible Ben Affleck flick of the same name left a bad taste reaction toward the character. This show pardons him completely.” Regardless of the criticisms I or others give toward these comic shows and films, our own Pete Benavides said it best yesterday in The GWW’s Entertainment GroupMe with his reaction to the latest Captain America: Civil War trailer:

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