They say that lightning never strikes in the same place twice. Indeed, the magic formula for a TV series has never been patented, much to the chagrin of many a studio exec. For Netflix, however, their partnership with Marvel has proved a huge hit. After the massive success of Daredevil earlier in the year, many people were wondering what was next for Hell`s Kitchen, and when their latest series, Jessica Jones was announced, a murmur of concern rumbled across the web. Who the hell is Jessica Jones anyway? (check out our brief history here) And how could a hero that nobody have ever heard of possibly match up to our favourite visually-impaired vigilante?
Of course, having proved that lesser-known heroes can be some of the greatest in last year`s phenomenal Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps we should have put a little more faith in the franchise. Because Jessica Jones might just be the best thing to burst into the MCU yet.
Set in Daredevil`s seedy neighbourhood of Hell`s Kitchen, Jessica Jones introduces us to the titular anti-hero (Krysten Ritter – Don`t Trust The Bitch in Apartment 23, Breaking Bad), an alcoholic ex-superhero struggling to scrape together a living as a private investigator. Haunted by a past infected by the mysterious Kevin Kilgrave (Tenth Doctor David Tennant), Jessica becomes unwillingly embroiled in the disappearance of a young girl, before setting out to prove her innocence in the case of her parents` murder at the hands of the manipulative Kilgrave.
Along the way, we are introduced to an array of new players in the MCU, from the long awaited first appearance of Luke Cage (a powerhouse of a performance by The Good Wife`s Mike Colter) to lesser known players such as former teen star turned superhero Hellcat (Rachel Taylor – 666 Park Avenue) and `roid-raged assassin Nuke (Will Traval – Red Widow).
Despite being set in the same backstreets as its predecessor, Jessica Jones manages to maintain an identity of its very own; Jones and Cage, despite their super strength, are by far the most human heroes we have encountered. Indeed, with Kilgrave`s highly supernatural powers, it could be assumed that this would be one of the more farfetched MCU entries, but the results are the absolute opposite. This is a show about the darkest of human emotions, a show about obsession. Every main character is plagued by an obsession-based fatal flaw, whether it`s addiction, justice, vengeance or lust, these are the demons that we all deal with at some time in our lives.
Each of the stars brings something magical to the table. Ritter`s Jones is a sardonic and almost unlikable hero. Brooding and prickly, drowning in whiskey, she plays the part that most of us would were we to discover we were “gifted”. Although we`d like to think we`d play the hero, in reality most of us would simply want to get on with our everyday lives. Colter`s Cage meanwhile, steals every moment of screen time with which he is graced. Witty, unassumingly charming, and undoubtedly kick-ass, Cage is the perfect foil for Jones to play off.
The real star, however, is Tennant. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have never been his greatest fan, having found his portrayal of the Doctor somewhat cumbersome and over the top. As such I wasn`t overly thrilled at the announcement of him joining the MCU, but his performance as Kilgrave has certainly opened my eyes to Tennant`s more subtle acting skills. Kilgrave is by far the most despicable villain that Marvel have presented us with to date; a pure psychopath fueled only by his obsession to win the heart of the woman that he belives he loves, stopping at nothing to achieve his goal. Add to this the psychic ability to make anyone do your exact bidding, and you’ve got a pretty damned scary supervillain. Tennant has brought something fresh, and something utterly terrifying to the Marvel Universe. And he looks swish in purple Paul Smith.
What makes Jessica Jones so special though is its slow burn. Unlike the big screen avengers outings, giving us a thirteen episode arc allows us to really get to know the characters. We are drip-fed and kept in constant response, rather than being bombarded with two hours of explosive CGI. Despite having known Tony Stark for over ten years now on the big screen, we know Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones much more intimately, allowing for a much more empathic, and much truer to the comics experience.
Moving, disturbing and filled with some of the blackest comedy Marvel can throw at us, Jessica Jones is as addictive and high-inducing as something you`d buy from a shady dealer on a Hell`s Kitchen street corner. Sexier than a night with Tony Stark, funnier than a night out with Rocket Raccoon, and darker even than Daredevil, Jessica Jones is Marvel`s finest offering to date.
5 / 5
Dir: S.J. Clarkson, David Petrarca, Stephen Surjik, Uta Briesewitz, Bill Gierhart, Rosemary Rodriguez, Michael Rymer
Scr: Brian Bendis, Michael Gaydos
Prd: Tim Iacafano
Music: Sean Callery
DOP: Manuel Billeter
Number of Episodes: 13
Episode Runtime: 60mins
Marvel`s Jessica Jones is available to stream now only on Netflix.