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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reviewing Marvel’s “Jessica Jones”

I watched the Netflix series Jessica Jones back in November when it came out.  I’ve been meaning to write a review of it for a while now but never got around to it.  Now is a good a time as any.

The Good

The series takes place in the Marvel Filmverse alongside Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.  So we already have an established universe framework to deal with.  It is subtlety mentioned that Jessica Jones herself could be an Avenger, although she’s so cynical and depressed she can barely work as a private detective.

Jones herself has super-strength.  Not sure to what degree, although she probably could hold her own in a fight against an Asgardian (not Thor though).  What holds her back is that the first time she tried to be a hero, she was captured by Kilgrave, a man who can control the minds of other people.  He used her as his personal bodyguard/sex toy for several months before losing control over her and supposedly dying.

Of course, he survived and came back to try and regain her “love”.

And that is one of the more interesting aspects of the series.  Kilgrave is by no means a good person; he’s a clear sociopath.  But it is not made clear whether or not he was always a sociopath or his powers made him that way.  He indicates that he has no real control over his powers and has to constantly watch what he says in order to keep people from doing ridiculous things.

However, he clearly demonstrates no remorse for the lives of those he destroys.  He takes the kidneys of a man just so he can be whole again.  He makes a young woman kill her own parents in public and seems content to let her rot in prison for it.  I could go on, but you get the idea.

All through this, though, he claims that he has never killed anyone (rationalizing that the people he’s ordered to be killed or commit suicide did so on their own) or that he committed rape when he had Jessica under his control.  He clearly sees no difference between the will of other people and his own.

Basically, the complexity of Kilgrave is very appealing and well worth watching the series for that alone.

One other note on the Kilgrave topic, nearly every scene, especially early on, has the color purple in it.  This is meant to symbolize his influence even beyond his limits as a mind-controller.  It also references his character in the comics, who is commonly called “The Purple Man”.

Another fascinating addition was the character of Nuke.  Yes, he isn’t called “Nuke” but “Will Simpson”.  In the comics, Nuke is a representation of the opposite of Captain America: a super-soldier experiment go wrong in the worse possible way.  In this television series, he still has a personality and initially appears to be stable but eventually becomes more and more unhinged in his obsession to stop Kilgrave.

The Bad

Overall the series was very good and explored many interesting ideas, there were some bad elements to it.  For one thing, Jessica Jones herself is played too cynical at times to the point that you wonder why she’s trying to save people from Kilgrave to begin with.

Her friend Trish is portrayed as this girl-power badass when in reality she needs to rely on Jessica when dealing with Kilgrave.  While the attempt is made to portray her as a strong-independent woman, this falls flat in my opinion.

The casting of Carrie-Anne Moss as a lesbian lawyer was a bad move in my opinion as well.  I really believe that the character should have remained a man as in the comic because it would have made much more sense.  The dynamics between her character and her wife and mistress really don’t seem to fit with the reality of lesbian relationships.  No, it is not like heterosexual couple dynamics as portrayed in the series.  Swap her gender and the story would have been much more impactful in my opinion.

The Ugly

The only ugly thing about this show was the abortion subplot that really went nowhere and was entirely pointless.  They could have cut out all of those scenes and the story wouldn’t have changed at all.  It was just the show’s creators trying to justify baby-murder and scoring some cheap political shots.

Final Verdict

In my opinion, it is well-worth watching.  While there are some bad, leftist propaganda elements to it (why does Hollywood feel the need to make every female-centric production about “girl-power”?), most of them can be ignored to enjoy the full scope of the story.

While I do feel that the protagonists could have been better developed, like Daredevil, the overall story is pretty solid and well worth your time.