Thursday, January 14, 2016

What is Jessica Jones?

On November 20, 2015 Netflix released the first season of Jessica Jones created by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and the Marvel comic Alias created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the show explores the superhero and film noir genres through its action-packed narrative advanced by the main character Jessica Jones (played by Krysten Ritter).

The series takes place in Hell's Kitchen, NY, where Jessica Jones runs her own detective agency and works as a private investigator after the end of her career as a costumed heroine named "Jewel". As the show progresses, the audience discovers that the end of Jessica’s career wasn’t entirely by choice. After stumbling across Zebediah Killgrave (also known as the “Purple Man”), a man with the ability to control people with his words, Killgrave becomes enthralled with Jessica’s similar access to superhuman abilities and literally talks her into remaining at his side as his lover and slave. After Jessica is finally released from Killgrave’s control under the impression that he is dead, she begins her work as a PI while also trying to forget and recover from her experiences with Killgrave. The show begins when Jessica finds out that Killgrave is in fact still alive and follows her through her pursuit to expose and kill him while she explores and battles addiction, sexuality, relationships, and trauma until Killgrave’s ultimate death in the final episode.

Jessica Jones first appeared in the Marvel Universe in the first issue of Alias in 2001 and then featured in several other comics like the Spiderman and Deadpool series. The comic's plot is guided by Jessica's investigations as a P.I., but is also intertwined with her history with The Avengers and The Purple Man. Critics have noted that the television series differs from the comic series because it doesn't place enough emphasis on Jessica's relationship to the MCU, but rather just on a very small window of her personal story. Others have noted that this was done for a very good reason, and I agree. One critic argues that: "if you know you have a good movie or series on your hands, then you establish it as a completely individual entity that can generate a new fan base on its own." I know I would have never been as personally interested in The Avengers, Daredevil, or frankly, most of the MCU if it hadn't been for this series. It's probably not wrong to assume that Rosenberg has placed more focus on Jessica's personal relationship with Killgrave for the first season and her life as a P.I. rather than as Jewel, because of her intense experiences with trauma and identity. Of course a mass of other superheros have had issues with trauma, but this is one of the first and most recent Marvel series to really highlight and focus on the topics of consent and choice. By doing so, I believe creating an individual series for Jessica Jones has attracted a feminist audience (that includes myself) that can now notice and appreciate the Marvel Industry more than they might have before.

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