Find me someone who didn’t enjoy Daredevil.
The Netflix version, that is. Not the cinematic feature in which the twitchily hammy Colin Farrell murders a granny with a peanut…
Charlie Cox’s new incarnation has been a refreshing adrenaline shot in the arm of Marvel’s television properties. The existing shows remain doggedly loyal and similar in style to the movies, with Agents of SHIELD still struggling after two seasons to find its own identity, and the 1940’s setting of Agent Carter making it inaccessible to a notable portion of those who tuned in.
The next show out of the gates is the lesser-known Jessica Jones, set to debut in its entirety on the streaming service on November 20th. So how much do you guys already know about Jessica, and what can we do to help fill in the blanks?
The Big Picture
The new Jessica Jones series is part of a long-term arrangement between Netflix and Marvel to produce a new access point into the MCU, designed to target areas of the television audience that are still yet to be engaged. Whilst the Avengers movies are designed to appeal to a relatively broad demographic, Marvel believe that in partnership with Netflix, they can produce a more adult-themed series, designed to cater for the forever evolving modern-day ‘binge viewing generation’, making the brand more accessible to the market.
The overall plan is for 4 separate series, each 13 episodes in length, which when added up would then result in an 8 episode combined run named ‘The Defenders’, consisting of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Daredevil was first out of the traps, and has been met with near universal acclaim, and so hopes are high for Jones. Regardless of her performance though, she’ll be followed up by the Luke Cage series, with Mike Colter cast in the role and due to make his onscreen debut ahead of that as a cast regular in Jessica Jones. The final series of Iron Fist seems to still be at the planning stage and remains yet to be cast, whilst a second series of Daredevil is already in production. The Netflix deal seems to be progressing at a steady and pleasing pace, further developing an ever-expanding MCU. Fans may well be happy to hear that its creators have already hinted that plans are afoot for the newer characters to make appearances within the other Marvel TV products, future films, and vice versa.
Netflix are sticking to the 13 episode format that worked so well for Series 1 of Daredevil, and so we can expect a story-arc of comparable depth and breadth to Matt Murdock’s. The casting of Elizabeth Capuccino in three episodes as a young Jessica suggest that we’ll be given some insight into her pre-hero family life, and most likely the accident that gifted her with her powers.
In terms of the overall tone we can expect, showrunner Jeph Loeb has been quoted as saying the series will be more of a crime drama than a traditional superhero show. These comments aside, it’s intriguing that a quick scan of IMDB suggests the episodes have all been titled to start with the precursor ‘AKA‘. Whilst this is a nod to the fact the series was initially going to incorporate that into its title, this is almost evocative of the fact that episodes of ‘Friends’ started with ‘the one with/where‘.
Add to this several references in the casting list to Jones’s neighbors being portrayed and the fact her best friend has been cast, it almost suggests that the interactions between the cast regulars in this series may be playing out more along the lines of a sitcom environment, casting light on Jessica’s desire to hang on to a normal life outside the caped community, rather than losing herself to it entirely like some of her peers.
The recent announcement that Marvel have also commissioned a light hearted pilot for the ‘Damage Control‘ series, about a company that cleans up the wreckage after superhero dust-ups may also suggest that Marvel want to experiment and trial new types of show format, to provide differing views and perspectives of the MCU, of which Jessica Jones will be one. It’s all indicative of a desire to create shows that a very different to Agents of SHIELD, which is just seen as a continuation of the existing films.
The character is by no means either a fan favorite, or a linchpin in the comic universe. The decision to use her follows in a fine tradition of experimentation for Marvel. Before Robert Downey Jr came along, Iron Man was only known about by people who regularly frequented comic book stores. Ant-Man? Rocket Raccoon? The franchise has made its name on putting its hand down the side of the sofa, finding a slightly tarnished gold ring nestling down there in-between the cushion, and then polishing it to realize it’s full value.
Jessica’s origin story places her at school with Peter Parker. Her parents work for Stark Industries, and as a child, she is involved in a car accident that kills them, and leaves her contaminated with military waste. She is granted the standard superhero powers of super strength, invulnerability, and some limited flight, and embarks on a short lived career as a crime-fighting superheroine named ‘Jewel’. This is bought to an abrupt halt by Zebediah Killgrave (The Purple Man), who captures and mentally tortures her, before unleashing her on the Avengers, who save and cure her. The experience deeply scars Jones though, who retires from being a hero, choosing instead to operate a private detective agency, where she marries Luke Cage, and operates on the fringes of the caped community.
Jones is already somewhat of an experimental property, even before the conversion from comic to TV. Her initial run was in the MAX franchise, where Marvel wanted to put darker anti-heroes who could pursue storylines deemed too strong for the mainstream. Jones’s imprint was named ‘Alias’, and ran between 2001 and 2004, exploring her detective work, and her backstory with Killgrave. She then featured in another slightly experimental comic run named ‘The Pulse’, until 2006. This was again set slightly aside from the mainstream, and examined her growing personal relationship with Luke Cage, also seeing her acting as a consultant for Ben Urich and the media.
It wasn’t until 2010 that she started to enjoy regular appearances in the main franchise storylines, hitting her peak in ‘Secret War’ and ‘Secret Invasion’, where she fights alongside Cage and the other Avengers, and re-adopts her superhero mantel again.
Killgrave too, is hardly what you’d consider an A-Lister. A former spy, who gains the ability to influence others through his pheromones, he is one of a number of lovable villains that writers have regularly used to supplement or cameo in larger storylines. He is seen in the escape from the Raft, and antagonizing US Agent during Civil War, but with David Tennant cast to play him, there’s potential for him to become every bit as big a fan favourite as Tom Hiddlestone’s Loki.
The casting of Tennant as antagonist Zebediah Killgrave is a masterstroke. One of the finest talents to emerge from the British entertainment industry, he remains one of the most favored Doctor Who incarnations, but has matched this quirky signature performance with far more dramatic roles, such as Broadchurch and United.
In Krysten Ritter, the producers have also found an appropriate actress for what the role demands. With a background in both comedy and edgy drama, she seems easily equipped to convey the two contrasting sides of a former hero, struggling to keep a foot in each of the worlds she inhabits.
Turning our gaze to the rest of the casting choices, the ever reliable Carrie-Anne Moss is an inspired choice for the mysterious Harper, who is being teased as a powerful potential ally of Jones. Transformers actress Racheal Taylor will be playing Jones’s BFF Trish Walker, who may or may not turn out to be the Marvel heroine Hellcat.
Rosario Dawson is slated to cross over from Daredevil for one episode as Claire Temple, which may indicate a cameo from everybody’s favorite attorney in the series. There does seem to be an absence of villains listed, which is no surprise, as Marvel have a history of keeping their cards close to their chest, and allowing identities to remain secret until unveiled onscreen.
One villain who is listed is that of Len Sirkes, played by Terminator Actor Brett Azar. In the comics, Sirkes is an enforced named Lone Shark, forcing families out of the area so land can be bought. Another possibility is a character named Jack Denton. The Denton’s are traditionally occultists, and being as Hellcat is a hero associated with fighting supernatural enemies, it’s possible one episode may involve some ghostly goings on.
With a set-up involving a protagonist who takes on the cases of people directly associated with the superhero community, a certain degree of ‘villain of the week’ will be inevitable, no doubt directed from a distance by the manipulative Killgrave.
With four teaser trailers released so far, the producers have demonstrated some insight into Jessica’s powers, in particular emphasizing her super strength. They also indicate that the series will still contain a certain level of dark humor, but that more serious issues may be being addressed than you might find in Agents of SHIELD.
In both the ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Nightcap’ teasers, there is evidence of an alcohol dependency. The bottles on the floor and side in Jessica’s bedroom. The aftermath of the saloon fight and the shot of liquor on the bar. It would appear that the lead character may be using alcohol as a coping mechanism for the PTSD she has suffered at the hands of Killgrave in the past.
This is supported by the third ‘titles’ teaser. The screen is awash with the color purple, teasing the overwhelming involvement of Killgrave in Jessica’s mind, and at one point the whirling background resembles alcohol being poured from a bottle.
The most recently released trailer is an eye opener for two reasons. Not only does it demonstrate what might either be the power of flight, or at least the ability to jump great heights, but the more eagle-eyed of you may have noticed Stark Tower silhouetted in the background. I’ll admit, I didn’t first time round. If that’s not a commitment to integration into the MCU, I don’t know what is….
That’s all that we know/guess at the moment. Regardless, we’ll be watching. Will you? Sound off in the comments below!