By now, a good chunk of people have watched the newest Marvel/Netflix show, Jessica Jones. What did you think of it? Do you think it was better than Daredevil? Here's 5 NON SPOILER reasons why it is:
1. It’s Darker
I am still unsure to this day why everyone pretended that Daredevil was so dark. The only thing that really made it was the infamous car scene. The dark feel it created was more of a dour affair, while the feel of Jessica Jones felt naturally dark. The characters are as dark as the world they are in. While the portrayal of Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil seemed more like comic book Gotham than comic book Hell’s Kitchen, the Hell's Kitchen in Jessica Jones becomes much more realistic and isn't trying to be darker than it actually is.
In just one scene in the first episode (the elevator scene, for those who have seen it) the show proves just how much more psychological and dark Jessica Jones is in comparison to Daredevil. You can already feel the tension ramping up in that first episode. But yet, tonally this feels like it could end up being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Daredevil was too jarring and you can’t imagine the MCU having those characters in it, which is surprising, given the lack of references to the surrounding universe Jessica Jones has, as opposed to Daredevil. You can imagine Defenders coming out of Jessica Jones.
The darkness isn’t just there to be dark (which is becoming an unsettling trend in film and tv these days) and it definitely adds to the noir direction the show takes. Daredevil used Kingpin and Daredevil’s dialogue to make the show deeper than it actually is, while Jessica Jones embraces what it is and doesn’t hide behind the idea that it means something more than it is. Also, the more sexual themes makes this a lot more adult but not over-the-top.
2. Better Characters
I’ve personally always preferred Matt Murdoch over Jessica Jones, but this adaption of Jessica Jones is so much more of a human than Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdoch. I’m not blaming Charlie Cox for that (even though his blind acting leaves something to be desired). I’m blaming whoever was responsible for the idea of seeing a “world on fire”. Either way, Jessica Jones definitely comes off as a better character with realistic relationships, problems and conflicts. Matt Murdoch’s relationship with Night Nurse or possibly even Karen Page seems forced, while Jessica Jones has a very natural relationship with Luke Cage, one that is built upon likeness and necessity, giving us the best (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and possibly most comic book accurate rendition of the couple. We also see through Krysten Ritter’s great acting just how happy Luke makes Jessica. Mike Colter and Krysten Ritter have amazing chemistry and are so suited to the characters, proving once again that Marvel never miscasts.
Another thing that’s great about the show for me and is possibly the main take-away point: this show is not pushing a feminist agenda. In terms of recent female-lead superhero shows, Agent Carter was immensely detracted from because of its feminist agenda being pushed down the throat of the viewer, before finding its own footing. Supergirl managed to quit its over-the-top feminist agenda and find its own footing as a story about trying to break free from expectations with an underlying and somewhat jarring feminist agenda. Meanwhile in the rest of the Marvel universe, the closest we get to a realistic and strong female character is Pepper Pots and possibly that infamous Black Widow scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron (which everyone considered a backward move for some reason). Jessica Jones manages to create a great, strong female character right off the bat without pushing some feminist agenda. Jessica has flaws and in that way, she is a realistic human and possibly one of the greatest on-screen female superheroes of all time, again proving that Marvel Studios can make the obscure amazing. Another great but somewhat lesser thing in the show is showing a lesbian without pushing it like it’s different. It feels natural. This adds to the already phenomenal use of a largely female cast.
I’ve already mentioned how good Mike Colter is as Luke Cage, but he really is, both with his acting ability and visually, from the very first moment he appeared.
The big thing in the show though is the villain, Zebediah Killgrave AKA Purple Man. Killgrave has always been one of my favourites and David Tennant has always been one of my favourite actors, so this mix was always going to be the standout in the show. Unlike with Daredevil, we get introduced to the villain very early on, and this works very well for the show. Killgrave isn’t guided by misplaced justice, like Kingpin. Killgrave is a sadistic sociopath who gets off to his crimes. We get so much more screentime of menacing than Kingpin had (since he had a late introduction and had majority dinner scenes with the phenomenal rendition of Vanessa Fisk).
By Episode 1 we are fully aware of who Killgrave is and what he can do. We’ve already seen him menacing and emanating a malicious presence by the end of Episode 2. As a kid, I thought the very idea that a person like Purple Man could exist was such a scary prospect. But as we grow up, we put our fears aside for reality. David Tennant though, brings those fears back with such a phenomenal performance that cements him in my mind as the best villain in the MCU so far. I didn’t even mind that he wasn’t purple (while the fact that Wilson Fisk never wore a white suit until he imprisoned and was never called Kingpin, even though there was an episode set in a bowling alley, which could have been the perfect reference opportunity, annoys me to no end).
He has no care for human life, in on instance watching tv while he commits murder for example, and the decision for him to have an English accent (and use English slang) works so well and you can tell the role was tailored for David Tennant. There’s something almost romantic about his relationship with Jessica Jones, which is even more unnerving. We're never sure of his motives and while he smiles and plays the hero, we have the gut feeling that he will turn on us at any second. Kingpin doesn't feel like he's much of a threat, but Purple Man emanates fear and turns everything around him into paranoia.
3. Higher Stakes
We see the effects of Killgrave’s control before we even see Killgrave, which makes him even more menacing as we see people who lose all motor function and people who kill those they love because of Killgrave’s control. The twists and turns are massive and the paranoia of the story makes it incredibly tense. While the fights and action in Daredevil are much better than Jessica Jones, the stakes in the latter are much higher.
Jessica Jones is definitely more of a fun character in her interactions with people, plus the music is a lot more fun. Even the theme song is more fun. The Daredevil theme song was pretty good, although it was visually too much like the Hannibal theme. Jessica Jones though, manages to also make a great theme which is appealing visually, hearkening to the comicbooks. Killgrave is a joy to watch and the dialogue is very snappy and funny.
5. Better Story
The story in Jessica Jones is much more tense and the plot picks up very quickly, which is very good for the show. The noir feel makes us feel like we’re going somewhere and there’s no pointless deaths just for shock value. There’s a lot more drama and no forced conflict, like with that Nelson vs Murdoch episode of Daredevil. This show embraces the comicbook as well, which is does so well. Then it all ramps up to a killer finale. While Daredevil left me looking back on it as an ok experience, Jessica Jones left me craving more.
Of course, Daredevil can hardly be blamed for this. It was Marvel’s first foray into the darker Netflix world they wanted to establish. Daredevil was practice, which made Jessica Jones perfect. I personally can’t wait for a second season and the subsequent Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders. This show is phenomenal and just the idea that I can watch a tv series solely about JESSICA JONES, or the equivalent of a 13-hour film of the PURPLE MAN terrorising people just makes feel good to be alive. Good on you Marvel!
Thanks for reading!