Dec 9th, 2015, 11:02 PM

Decoding Jessica Jones: Another Brooding Superhero

By Melissa Payne
Jessica Jones is an odd but intriguing combination of Daredevil and Law and Order. (Warning: Contains spoilers).

Jessica Jones, the second Marvel Netflix series of 2015 following Daredevil, premiered last month. Like Daredevil, Jessica Jones takes place in New York City and takes on the dark side of superhero comics.

The Marvel heroine (played by Krysten Ritter) exists in the same “universe” as other Marvel heroes. Jessica is a freelance private investigator with super strength and the ability to fly. Her parents died in a car accident when she was young, leaving her with superpowers and a bitter cynical outlook on life. She is sassy, sarcastic, and an alcoholic loner. Her superhero angle mirrors that of Batman, Daredevil, and Arrow. The show makes several references to The Avengers film and Jessica crosses paths with Claire, a character from Daredevil. 

Unlike most superhero shows such as Daredevil and Arrow, this series begins at a point where Jessica is familiar with her powers and has given up on being a hero. She settles instead for being a private citizen and earning a meager living from her detective work, helping people along the way. She also drinks a lot of whiskey. Unlike other heroes, Jessica does not take on a secret identity and devote herself to ridding her city of crime and corruption, like Matt Murdock and Bruce Wayne. Instead, we learn that Jessica was recently terrorized by Kilgrave, a crazy Joker-esque super-villain with mind-control powers. We learn that Kilgrave had used his power to force Jessica to do his bidding, which includes having sex with him, and murder an innocent woman. Jessica thus is a blend of spunky super detective, and fragile, guilt-stricken rape victim. Her PTSD transforms into fierce determination as she discovers that Kilgrave is alive and wreaking havoc.

Marvel's Jessica Jones - Official Trailer - Only on Netflix [HD]

This show turns into an odd, but intriguing combination of Daredevil and Law and Order. I liked it. It has a fascinating lead character, an interesting villain (played by David Tennant) who is an interesting take on the edgy and brooding side of hero characters.

I did have mixed feelings about the plot however. I get that Jessica Jones is a brooding unconventional hero who operates outside the law. I can appreciate the “doing bad things for good reasons” approach. I watched Zorro, and Robin Hood when I was a kid, and understand that heroes can break the rules without becoming villains. So I was a little disappointed when this edgy, but good-hearted heroine overcomes her first villain by snapping his neck with her bare hands, the way Superman killed the villain in Man of Steel. I understand that these characters are not intended to be role models, like Wonderwoman or Spiderman, but I still believe that killing the bad guy is not always the “right” thing to do. It’s also boring and in this case, unnecessary. The villain Kilgraves’ power lies in his from his ability to control people with his voice. Jessica has super strength. She could have damaged his vocal cords with a severe throat injury, ridding him of his ability to speak, and ending his mind control abilities, and sending him to jail. 

Dark brooding vigilante heroes can still retain a basic moral compass. I also think it would have been more satisfying for Jessica -- and viewers -- to see a silent, frustrated villain wasting away in a jail cell rather than having his neck snapped in two. Canonizing murder is not my cup of tea.