It's time for something a little different on 8-Bit Girl today. Netflix/Marvel series Jessica Jones has been gaining a lot of hype since it's release (and rightly so). I thought it would be a good opportunity for a guest blogger to share their thoughts on the series (thanks Angela!). Give it a read below.
It's easy to feel at times that Marvel is getting a little stretched out with its film and TV content. There's at least one new Marvel Studios film out every year, and we know that there are additional projects lined up into the mid-2020s. And at this point, the studio has its fingerprints on numerous televisions shows as well, some on standard TV and a few now directly through Netflix. But the reason it all works is that Marvel isn't lazy about it. Sure there are some repetitive themes and ideas, and the sheer scope of it all can feel a little silly, but each new project is designed with the care and devotion needed to make a strong piece of entertainment. And the second original Marvel/Netflix series, Jessica Jones, is the latest example.
What Is Jessica Jones?
As mentioned, Jessica Jones is the second TV show designed by Marvel and released through Netflix. And as explained by Pocket-Lint, it's part of a greater lineup not unlike the cinematic Avengers cycle. Basically, Jessica Jones is show number two (with Daredevil being number one) of four planned series introducing the heroes who will ultimately comprise "The Defenders," with the team set to get a collaborative fifth show some time in the near future. This second show in the cycle was created by Melissa Rosenberg and consists of 13 episodes.
As for the hero at the centre of the story, Jessica Jones is, as she's referred to in the show, "one of them." That basically means she's a person with superhero capabilities (in her case flight and super strength). However, it's also the show's way of acknowledging that Jessica Jones lives in the same world in which the Avengers have saved New York City from an alien attack, and the public is aware of heroes. Jones herself, however, is living a subtler life as a private investigator. As she says, she's not hiding her powers, but she's not advertising them either. The role is played by Krysten Ritter, who was previously best known as Jane in the hit AMC series Breaking Bad.
New Ground For MarvelMarvel has been getting darker for years now, and the trend looks to continue with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film. It's almost reminiscent of the Harry Potter film franchise in that Marvel Studios appears willing to grow up with its audience. Early films were very light and bordered on cheesy; then there was progress to more serious projects that were still heavily sprinkled with humour; and lately, things have gotten downright serious.
Daredevil, the first of the Netflix series, was the strongest evidence of the progression to more serious subject matter. It was decidedly bloodier and more brutal than any other Marvel project before it. TV.com's piece on its release was titled, "welcome to the darker, bloodier, awesomer corner of the Marvel Universe," and as it turns out that corner includes more than just Daredevil. Jessica Jones is every bit as tense and grim as Daredevil, and it has also introduced by far the strongest sexual element we've yet seen from Marvel. This is Marvel with blood, terror, alcohol, drugs, and sex, and it all almost lends new credibility to the studio's tireless drive to produce.
Progress For The Female SuperheroIt took a little while, but the need for female superheroes is finally being addressed in a pretty significant way, by both DC and Marvel. In the case of DC, the process will really kick off when Wonder Woman is introduced in 2016's Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice film. And on the Marvel side, a lot of the focus about female heroes has actually been on Elektra, who's already trickled into various aspects of Marvel entertainment. The character will be introduced in Daredevil's second season, and already the game selection at Betfair includes an Elektra title. Given that there are a number of similar games there featuring characters we've seen in the MCU, that's actually a significant nod to Elektra's future in the entire entertainment empire.
But with Jessica Jones, we've basically gotten our first full-fledged female superhero protagonist. Granted, Sharon Carter on ABC's Agent Carter came along first. But she's more of a secret agent, and Jones is on the same tier as genuine superheroes. And Ritter handles the role with brilliant recognition of its significance in that regard. She's powerful but unassuming, ass-kicking but very human. It's not just that she's a female superhero, but rather that that's no big deal to her, which is a much more powerful statement than if she'd been overflowing with bravado. She doesn't need to prove herself, because she can throw you across a city block.
An Immensely Satisfying SeriesAll of the above is about what Jessica Jones is and what it means in the context of Marvel's cinematic empire. But the show itself, it should be noted, is incredibly fun to watch. It actually gets off to an extremely rough start. The writers handed Ritter some horrifically clichéd narration with which to open the very first episode, and it would be understandable for viewers to be tempted to switch away after five minutes that look like the beginning of a campy, tired crime drama. Oddly enough, the same was true of Daredevil.
But if you hang in there, as with Daredevil, you're ultimately treated to something much deeper and more enjoyable than it initially seems. Jessica Jones is oozing with tension that feels very natural, and Ritter, who's in just about every frame of the show, is wonderful. The supporting cast does a very nice job collectively and perhaps most importantly the darker tone of the show never seems forced or out of place. There's been a very careful effort by the show's creators to make Jessica Jones about the spookier side of being a superhero in the aftermath of the events in The Avengers, and the result is a show as gripping as anything Marvel's done to date.