ByKatie Granger, writer at
MP Staff Writer, come to bargain.
Katie Granger

You'd be hard pressed to choose a favourite between Marvel TV's two fantastic shows - Daredevil and Jessica Jones - and harder pressed still once the rest of the roster is rolled out over the next few years on the road to Marvel's The Defenders.

Certainly the two have their similarities; they both feel more like noir detective / murder shows than fantastical superheroes (Jessica Jones in particular), relying heavily on gritty cinematography as much as they do on narrative and character. Then there's the fact that both protagonists gained their powers from car accidents involving mysterious chemical spills...

But still the shows are very different when you get down to the bare bones, particularly when looking at the central characters themselves. You could never call Daredevil a purely superhero show; it's much more scaled back than the fantastical likes of say, The Avengers movies.

The Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) of the first season struggles with the superhero identity as he puts on his mask, edging into anti-hero territory more than once. This of course nicely sets up both internal conflict (something which is central to the superhero archetype) but also Daredevil Season 2 which will introduce Frank Castle / Punisher (Jon Bernthal) as both mirror image of and antithesis to Daredevil himself.

The Punisher holds Daredevil's helmet in new teaser
The Punisher holds Daredevil's helmet in new teaser

But Daredevil does contain more conventions of the genre than Jessica Jones, a show which prides itself on being a comic book show not really about a superhero. Indeed this echoes the feeling of the Alias comics from which the narrative is adapted; the books largely focus upon Jessica's adventures as a private investigator and her struggle against the Purple Man rather than portraying a masked hero type rallying against an evil for the greater good.

But according to Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg there's a very specific and deliberate facet of the two characters which separates them: their fighting style.

Anyone who has watched the show or read the comics will know that Jessica Jones isn't a superhero in the traditional sense. After a brief stint as the pink haired superhero Jewel she chucked the concept following her traumatic run in with Purple Man / Killgrave but even when she was Jewel she didn't have a complete handle on her powers, struggling to learn to fly due to not fully being able to control her strength.

Jewel's costume is referenced in 'Jessica Jones'
Jewel's costume is referenced in 'Jessica Jones'

Krysten Ritter (who portrays the titular character in the Netflix series) describes Jessica as a brawler, but one who only steps into a fight when she has to:

"She's just a brawler, and she's also a good person. She's not trying to beat anyone to a pulp for the sake of it. She wants to break things up and then she's done, whereas on other shows they keep going and it gets violent, and that's not really what Jessica's about."

Certainly the line between necessary violence and hurting people for pleasure is one which becomes blurred for Matt Murdock in Daredevil. Season 1 Episode 2 Cut Man first raises this question when Daredevil and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) torture and interrogate the Russian mobster:

Daredevil: "Listen, I need you to know why I'm hurting you. It's not just the boy. I'm doing this 'cause I enjoy it."

The question of whether or not Matt truly does enjoy inflicting pain and how that effects his motivations as Daredevil is debated throughout the series, by Claire, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Matt himself, but with Jessica Jones this is never a question raised.

Jessica can be called cruel - sadistic even - in her social mannerisms, but pain inflicted for the sake of it isn't really a facet of her character.

Even the way she ultimately deals with Killgrave (David Tennant) in the final episode; after all the pain he's caused her and even as he's tortured, murdered and threatened to rape her friends she takes him out in the most painless way possible - a quick turn of the head, a snap of the neck and he's gone. Jessica may be a brawler, but she's one with a heart of gold, even if the outside is often abrasive.

The decision to make her so was a conscious one, as Rosenberg explained recently to IGN. She wanted to make a clear distinction between Jessica and Daredevil, and making Miss Jones a "relatively bad fighter compared to someone as well-trained as Matt Murdock" is part and parcel of this clarification.

Rosenberg: "[Jessica is] strong, but she's not a ninja. She didn't spend her life training. That's just not who she is. She's a brawler. You have everyone else doing these fancy moves, and she just goes 'boom.' That's not the story we're telling. This is a psychological thriller. It's about being grounded and real. It wasn't in our tone. It very clearly wasn't our objective to go in that way."

The tone of Jessica's fighting certainly differs from Daredevil's. Whilst Matt Murdock is all beautifully choreographed and fantastically executed movements Jessica Jones is all bar brawls and kicking dudes in the face.

This fits in with the shift away from the superhero drama and into that of the more grounded, noir psychological thriller, which is the stance Ritter was playing up in her portrayal:

"When I was playing [Jessica], I just focused on the psychology and her backstory and thought of her powers just as an extension of that. She has so much internal strength, so when she throws a punch, that strength just felt like it was coming from her. I never really though, 'Oh, I'm a superhero.' I just thought, 'I'm f--king strong as s--t.'"

The differences between the shows are important, because they undercut the "which is better" argument that so often permeates media set in the same or similar narrative universes or genre.

Rather than trying to outdo the massive critical success of Daredevil, which the creators of Jessica Jones were well aware they would be judged on, they created a show similar enough to exist in the same narrative universe but different enough to stand on its own feet as a separate text, with different strengths and weakness to its predecessor.

Whilst Jessica Jones Season 2 is still far off in the future - and likely will see Jessica investigating the origins of her powers, a narrative thread which could tie the series closer into that of Daredevil due to the similar chemical origins of their powers - Daredevil Season 2 is set to release all episodes worldwide on Netflix on March 18.

Check out the brand new 'Daredevil' Season 2 trailer - featuring Elodie Jung's Elektra - below!


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