One of 2015’s most eagerly awaited new shows, Jessica Jones is the second of Netflix’s five inter-connected series set within the Marvel universe. Superhero-phobic? Here’s why you should still give it a chance…
No Capes, No Spandex, No Aliens
Yes, Jessica Jones is set within the fictional universe that contains the Avengers, X-Men and Guardians Of The Galaxy – but you’re not going to see Jessica teaming up with Rocket Racoon to battle Loki in some wormhole. She’s a private investigator, and she operates at street level: lurking in shadows, breaking into apartments, peering through binoculars… This is a space-monster-free zone.
Our Hero Is A Mess
While comic book characters invariably come with a side-order of tragedy – Batman’s an orphan, Superman’s lonely, Iron Man’s guilty, boo hoo – these traumas are usually buried beneath slick hyper-competency. Jessica Jones, however, really is a shambles.
She’s clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – exactly why is, initially, unclear – and her life is tail-spinning: borderline alcoholism, a dilapidated apartment, she can’t even charge a phone properly… In short, she’s infinitely more relatable than, say, The Avengers femme fatale Black Widow. The clue’s in that title: Jessica Jones – she’s just a normal, big-city gal. Okay, so she’s not normal, buuut…
Superpowers? Shrug, Whatever
About a third of the way through the first episode, you’ll start to wonder why it even needed to be set within the Marvel universe at all. But then comes a blink-and-miss-it display of superpowers so casual and fanfare-free it’s startling in its matter-of-factness.
Clearly, there’s something unusual about Jessica – but the show is determined not to make a Big Deal of it. In fact, you’ll be kind of vague on what her ‘super-deal’ is, exactly, because…
There’s No Origin Story! (Thank God)
Origins are the bane of superhero storytelling. Audiences are rarely trusted to hit the ground running: every character and situation must be explained in pace-derailing detail. But watching the first episode of Jessica Jones, you’ll almost feel like you’ve parachuted straight into the middle of the series. Who’s that guy Jessica keeps flashbacking about? Why are we being shown her boss’s affair? Why is she obsessed with that random bar-owner? Who’s this celebrity she’s somehow mates with? What is going on? You’d think being kept so in the dark would be exhausting, but it’s actually exhilarating. We only wish more shows were as coolly patient with their info-dumps.
The Show Is Dark, But Not “OmG s000 d@rK!!1!”
There’s a pitch-black streak running through the series, but it feels earned and appropriate, rather than forced and tiresome. There’s nothing more tedious than try-hard goth-tween darkness being needlessly crowbarred into a superhero story (*cough* Man Of Steel *cough*).
It’s Definitely Not For Kids
On account of the grim violence, industrial language and headboard-banging hanky panky, do not settle down to watch it with your eight-year-old nephew – in his Spider-Man PJs, gripping his Wolverine action figure – because you will end up in the shit with his parents.
It’s Not A Great Superhero Show – It’s A Great TV Show, Full Stop
It’s true! Watch that exemplary first episode and then tell us you’re not hooked…
Jessica Jones is now on Netflix