** spoilers for Jessica Jones, just in case you haven't binged it all yet **
When Marvel and Netflix first announced their joint venture to produce a run of Hell's Kitchen centred television shows as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe we weren't quite sure what to expect.
After all, we already had the ABC shows: [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](tag:722469) with its ups and downs and [Marvel's Agent Carter](tag:1119765) which released around the same time as Netflix's Daredevil, gaining a positive critical response but not quite as impressive a viewership pull. What more could these shows add to the ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe we wondered, and could they possibly save the on-screen Daredevil character from the damage done by the 2003 film?
And then Daredevil Season 1 hit Netflix and we were blown away by not just the mature gritty tone but the characterisation and casting too. The Netflix Marvel shows dive below the surface of the epic sky battles of New York right down to the concrete pavement of Hell's Kitchen, bringing real human drama to the world of the fantastical.
And then there was the incredible noir-flavoured Jessica Jones; described as "a landmark moment for female superheroes on TV" it's currently sitting at an incredible 92% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Hard pressed to follow up next we've got Marvel's Luke Cage, which is currently undergoing production, and Iron Fist. This, of course, is all building up towards the birth of The Defenders, Marvel's flagship TV show superhero group.
In the comics the Defenders are slightly different. Like the Avengers they feature an ever changing roster of superheroes, the original team back in the early 70s consisted of a very different lot: Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor and the Silver Surfer.
Luke Cage was a fairly prevalent member, as was Hellcat / Patsy Walker, who appears in Jessica Jones as Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), but Jessica herself has never been a definitive member.
We're not yet 100% sure how the shows are going to link together but it's more than likely going to have something to do with both Claire Temple / Night Nurse (Rosario Dawson), who has appeared in both Daredevil and Jessica Jonesand is set to show up in Luke Cage, and the tenuous relationship that we've seen developing between Luke (Mike Colter) and Jessica (Krysten Ritter) thus far.
In The Comics
What happens between Jessica and Luke depends on how closely the Marvel Cinematic Universe plans to follow the canon. In the comics Jessica and Luke are initially engaged in an on/off affair stemming from a one night stand they had at the outset of the Alias run where Jessica Jones made her comic debut.
After a period of unrest between the two of them they level out and become friendly again whilst working with Matt Murdock / Daredevil when his secret identity is ousted, and Cage attempts to support Jessica when Killgrave re-enters her life.
Over this time he comes to realise his true feelings for her, and when Jessica discovers that she is pregnant they two of them move in together and decide to make a go of it. They are married shortly after Jessica gives birth to their child - Danielle (who, fun fact, later gets kidnapped by Skrulls during Secret Invasion, never trust a Skrull).
The Jessica Jones MCU continuity does differ a lot from the comics; in addition to Jessica and Luke's fling she also has a brief relationship with Scott Lang (the second Ant-Man) during Alias. This shouldn't pose a particular issue to the Netflix shows however as Scott Lang's character in the MCU (portrayed by Paul Rudd) is currently confined to the big screen, with no known plans to cross him over in the TV universe or vice versa.
So, regardless of any anty interference Jessica's source origins did make it likely that she would reprise her role heavily in Luke Cage when it comes to Netflix next year, but that's looking a lot less likely at this juncture.
Recall her speech to Luke during the finale episode:
"I thought about you. I mean, I knew it would never happen. But I couldn't help... picturing us. Like, on an actual date. Bowling. Normal shit. You're the first person I ever pictured a future with. You're also the first person I ever shot in the head. If you... When you wake up... I'm not gonna be around to screw up your life anymore. Probably because I'll be dead. But maybe Kilgrave will be dead, too."
At this point, regardless of her survival, Jessica has already resigned herself to the fact that her and Luke can't yet be together on a meaningful level. Because the Marvel TV shows throw a big spanner in the works with the added subplot of Luke's dead wife, Reva Connors (Parisa Fitz-Henley).
Again the continuity differs from the comics, the Earth-616 Reva Connors was a childhood friend of Luke's caught in a love triangle between him and his best friend turned enemy Willis Stryker (Diamondback). Reva became engaged to Luke for a time before he gained his superpowers, but she was killed by the super-villain crime group the Maggia whilst in pursuit of Willis for stolen drugs. Originally Jessica never meets Reva, and neither her nor Killgrave have anything to do with her death.
So whilst Reva's death in Jessica Jones provides big moments of drama between Jessica and Luke, and is also the tipping point for Jessica managing to break away from Kilgrave's hold upon her, it does make it tricky to speculate how the relationship between the two is going to develop from here on out.
When Luke first discovered that it was Jessica who killed his wife he rejected her immediately, but after being placed under Kilgrave's control himself he realised that it truly was the Purple Man who was to blame for Reva's death. Now that the villain is out the picture by Jessica's hand this revelation may go some way to smoothing out the bumps in the road, but time will have to tell.
So whilst all this doesn't mean that Jessica and Luke won't end up together in the Netflix show continuity, it does make it a little less likely that it will happen quite as soon as we'd expected. It's also hard to say how things will work out regarding The Defenders as in the comics Jessica Jones is more closely associated with the New Avengers, not actually appearing as a member of the Defenders at all.
One final thing to keep in mind is that by the time Luke Cage rolls around several months will have passed from the time of the Jessica Jones finale. Jessica will presumably be back up and running Alias Investigations, and Luke will be dealing with the fallout of his prison escape and the experiments that made him the way he is, the core narrative of the show.
There's no official word yet on Krysten Ritter making an appearance which means she's unlikely to be a recurring character if she shows up in Luke Cage at all, but we do know that we'll see Rosario Dawson take another turn as Claire Temple, always the connective element.
Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are one of the few superhero marriages that hasn't yet ended in disaster, misery or death (don't worry, they got their baby daughter back from the Skrulls too), and sometimes it's just nice to see things work out for two people with such dark pasts.
Whilst a strong romance might not exactly gel with the darker tone set by the Netflix run of the Marvel shows it might just be the small burst of optimism that they need to keep Hell's Kitchen from losing the light completely. Let's hope we find out more when Luke Cage releases sometime this year.