Earlier this year, the Daredevil series premiered on Netflix and it turned out to be an immense success as it opened a new door for Marvel. It provided them with the opportunity of delving into a more violent and darker territory that they hadn’t been able to do in their films or in the ABC network series. With the premiere of Jessica Jones, it is obvious that the owners at Disney and the company are willing to even further down this path. The character of Jessica Jones is based on the one in the amazing comic book Alias, which was created by Michael Gaydos’ and Brian Michael Bendis. The show starts in a way that immediately clarifies that it isn’t meant for kids because it is decidedly mature.
Played by Kristen Ritter, Jessica is a private investigator in a noir and classic environment. It is amusing that in the Marvel Comics Universe, the modern version of Hell’s Kitchen in New York appears to be quite dangerous and it is also quite large, which is announced rather vividly through the tasteful opening credit sequence. Most the cases Jessica deals with are concerned with spouses wishing to know if they are being cheated on. The most surprising fact is how blunt Jessica appears to be when she deals with sexuality, given the company that’s running the show.
There is nothing coy or discreet in what is happening on the screen, whether it is Jessica’s own life or it is the people she is watching getting it on in a car while doing her job. Marvel fans are going to be a bit startled with several of the sex scenes, which aren’t exactly like the Avengers. There wasn’t any actual and blatant nudity and the F word wasn’t spoken, but there was plenty of other things that came across quite clearly. When Ritter was cast for the titular role, there had been some doubts about her ability to play the character.
While she has proven in other projects that she can easily pull off the edgy and sardonic vibe that’s part of Jessica’s character, it is also supposed to be a superhero and this is where Ritter’s lanky form may not work out as a fighter. However, anyone who had doubts can now rest in peace as Ritter is quick to quell them in the first episode. She is able to convey just the right attitude that shows Jessica as someone who is both damaged and tough and her flippant behavior is simply a mask to the world.
There is a strong supporting cast that assists Ritter, which includes Mike Colter who plays Luke Cage. They are just providing a set up for his character right now as he will be getting his own Marvel or Netflix series next year. The chemistry between Ritter and Colter is fun and you can enjoy their banter across a bar. Powerful lawyer Jeri Hogarth is played by Carrie-Ann Moss, who portrays a strong and not to be messed with character. She often uses Jessica’s services.
We are also introduced to Trish Walker, a friend of Jessica’s played by Rachael Taylor. She is basically the live-action form of Marvel’s Hellcat/Patsy Walker, which offers hints to Jessica’s dark past and gives the indication that she hasn’t moved past it. This past is concerned with the main villain of the show, Kilgrave and it is portrayed by David Tennant. While the character doesn’t exactly appear in the premiere, Tennant does make some atmospheric appearances. It is worth noticing that we instantly get an unsettling and creepy vibe from this man, which probably stems from his ability of making anyone do whatever he tells them. A small role is also given to Erin Moriarty as she is a missing college girl who Jessica needs to find.
Regardless, fans of the Alias comics should bear in mind that this isn’t an exact adaptation of the book’s events. The series does give some nods to moments taken from the comics, it is clear in the premiere episode that the producers are going to introduce their own storylines and characters while staying true to the core elements and tone of Alias. This means that the first case that Jessica has to deal with doesn’t involve Captain America so Chris Evans doesn’t show up if that’s what you were expecting.
Melissa Rosenberg, the showrunner and executive producer, also wrote the first episode and along with S. J. Clarkson, the director, do an excellent job at establishing Jessica’s world. They are wonderful in showing how Jessica deals with the people she encounters and her attitude towards everything she comes across. Sure, she has superpowers, but they are also dealt with matter-of-factly. She can do this stuff, but she doesn’t make a very big deal about it and simply uses them to solve cases when she needs to. We also see Kilgrave’s ability of being able to compel people to do his bidding, which can have huge consequences as he is a supervillain.
Nonetheless, the first episode of Jessica Jones does have some clunky moments. When she meets a pretentious film student, the dialogue seems a bit strange and the character of the student also comes across as too manufactured and mannered. However, for the most part, the show comes off as something that’s well-written and well-made. We get to see a woman who is living a less that’s not the least bit glamorous and is in fact a hard drinking life. But, she still possesses an inner and outer strength that makes her unique and throws her in the spotlight even if she doesn’t want to be there.
With the first episode, Jessica Jones is off to a pretty good start and the main character is established in a really good way. The show feels even better than Daredevil as it comes off as more mature and grown up. This isn’t just because it has some actual ‘adult’ content; it is also due to the fact that there is an overall weariness and vibe that makes it distinct.