Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jessica Jones and Identity: The Anti-Hero

Many superheroes have fallen within the category of anti-hero, or a hero who doesn't necessarily want to be titled as a "hero" or have their powers (i.e.: Deadpool, Catwoman, and Wolverine). Anti-heroes are often negative or apathetic and have reclusive qualities and flashbacks to violent or traumatic pasts. With her constant flashbacks, anxiety coping methods, and alcoholic tendencies, Jessica Jones is easily categorized as Marvel's newest and darkest anti-hero. In an interview with Time Magazine, Krysten Ritter expands on Jessica's character and her relationship to the role, the anti-hero persona, and feminism in more detail and suggests that Jessica is more than just an anti-hero. So what makes her different?

Ritter states in her interview with Time that Jessica Jones is a "psychological thriller first and a superhero show second." Throughout the series, there is an ongoing focus on Jessica's experience of trauma from the death of her family and her experiences with her Killgrave. This underlying importance of her PTSD and her struggles understanding her identity seem to be what set Jessica Jones apart from the other anti-heros. In most anti-hero and superhero stories, the audience knows that the hero's family was killed or that they experienced torture before gaining powers, but Jessica Jones directly addresses how this past affects Jessica's relationship with her identity and is not afraid to directly confront the topics of consent, choice, and abuse.

One critic addresses how "Marvel with violence on a wide scale" and that "While those are harrowing situations, the humans caught in the conflict are just collateral damage. There is nothing private about the violence." They add that "Jessica Jones, on the other hand, explores the intimacy of abuse. The more personal the show gets as it delves into the abuse, recovery, trauma, and guilt, the harder it is to watch." Jessica doesn't flinch to remind her friends that Killgrave abused her, and her vulnerability about this and other trauma is not hidden from the audience. Her sarcastic eye rolls, stubbornness, and empathy towards people who have also encountered Killgrave reveal her fragility, and viewers can tell that there's something heavily wrong and complex about her past.

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