Jessica Jones marks Marvel‘s latest venture into the world of television and their second original series for Netflix. Creating four series based on individual characters and bringing them together for an ensemble series in ‘The Defenders’, this is a deal which hopes to do for television what ‘The Avengers’ did for film.
Here, Marvel brings us its first on-screen leading super-heroine subverting previous criticism for its lack of female led properties. All 13 episodes are available now for your binge-watching pleasure, and at an hour-long each it’s interesting to think that by the end of it you will have spent as much screen time with Jessica as any other Marvel cinematic universe character to date – making her just as realised as Tony Stark.
Krysten Ritter stars as the title character Jessica Jones, a former superhero who gave up fighting crime after dark events left her suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Trying to rebuild her life as a private investigator, Jessica is forced to confront her past and the sadistic man known only as Kilgrave (played by David Tennant).
Along the way she is joined by her childhood friend Trish Walker (Rachel Taylor) and Marvel hero Luke Cage (Mike Colter), another member of ‘The Defenders’, who is due to get his own Netflix series.
Marvel have once again proven they have a knack for casting, as everyone not only looks like their comic book counterparts, but are also brilliant in their roles. Krysten Ritter and David Tennant shine in particular as the leads. Ritter perfectly embodies the role of the quick-witted but damaged bad ass and brings life to every facet of her character.
Likewise, Tennant is excellent as the horrific sociopath Kilgrave. He brings a one-two punch of humour and terror to the character, drawing you in with his wit and charm before catching you off guard by doing something truly monstrous.
Unfortunately a few characters failed to resonate with me, specifically Jessica’s two upstairs neighbours who come in the form of twins Robyn (Colby Minifie) and Ruben (Kieran Mulcare). Although the acting still excels, their outlandish characters quickly became grating. Whilst I was initially thankful for the addition of some comic relief, as later episodes upped the tempo of main events, I often wished we didn’t have to spend more time with those particular characters.
The show’s pacing moves incredibly quickly, diving straight into the main arc and introducing us to Kilgrave as the villain, which proved to be just as effective as Wilson Fisk/King Pin’s role in ‘Daredevil’. However, like ‘Daredevil’, it does lose some steam going into its final few episodes as it struggles to reunite the many characters and plot lines whilst setting up new potential story lines for its probable second season. It’s not a big hindrance though, as by that point you’ll no doubt be so invested that seeing it through to the end won’t feel like a chore.
Set in the Marvel cinematic universe, Jessica Jones is decidedly far more mature and darker than anything that they’ve released up until this point. Those that were surprised by the violent content found in ‘Daredevil’ back in April should ready themselves for another shock, as Jessica Jones not only features more graphic violence but also tackles the subjects of rape, abortion, torture and PTSD head on.
There is a fear that Jessica Jones might not treat such serious topics with the respect that they deserve, however the series fully commits to educating its audience and expertly balances its tonal shifts. Credit has to go to series creator Melissa Rosenburg who previously worked on Showtime’s ‘Dexter’, another series which was well praised for its mix of drama and humour.