Comics On TV

5 Reasons Jessica Jones Is the Superhero Everyone Needs Right Now

Krysten Ritter's superhero is a flawed, hard-drinking, plain-speaking abuse survivor – and yet she persists.

by | March 7, 2018 | Comments

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is about to return for its second season on Thursday, and a lot has changed since its first season and Jessica’s (Krysten Ritter) struggle against Kilgrave (David Tennant). It seems following the success of inspiring film Wonder Woman and with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements shifting the paradigms, people have felt empowered to identify their own personal Kilgrave and, as the saying goes, give him what for.

And even though Jessica was (seemingly) successful in her objective, portraying her struggle to process living after that victory sets her apart from so many other fictional heroes. With that in mind – and in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8 – here are five reasons Jessica Jones is the superhero we need right now.


1. She Lives in a Realer Superhuman World

Krysten Ritter in Marvel's Jessica Jones season 2 (David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

Sure, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a place of aliens, mystical dimensions, and the Hulk, but the Netflix corner of that world is far closer to our own — right down to dismissing Marvel’s The Avengers’ Battle of New York as “The Incident.” And thanks to that street-level view — which is itself a Marvel Comics specialty going back decades — Jessica’s problems are familiar. She struggles to pay bills, stay sober, and face a very specific trauma. Her neighbors know about recovery and pain, and support groups freak her out as much as any ludicrous supervillain; in fact, talking in group may be even more of a challenge.

But the show (and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg) smartly rewrote the more outlandish parts of Jessica’s comic-book origins and ongoing struggles into a brutal interior conflict. The series also explicitly called out Kilgrave’s abuse as rape. And while the show still gives him a superpower, the direct mental abuse serves as a parallel for something people around the world deal with every day. The directness of the parallel stands alongside the pulpy plot progression of a comic book, giving it the necessary amount of distance to make it compelling television. While Jessica’s world looks like ours, it always has superhuman abilities to both tell a story of trauma and offer a cathartic punch to the villain’s face.


2. She Is Nowhere Near Perfect

Krysten Ritter in Marvel's Jessica Jones season 2 (David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

Of course, Jessica makes unhealthy choices when dealing with grief and trauma. As the series begins, she is rarely sober, gets into fights in the hallway outside of her apartment and uses sex as a way to avoid the really uncomfortable feelings — actions which have very specific parallels to the first few issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’s Alias comic book.

Other than Trish (Rachael Taylor), she tends to keep people at a blast radius thanks to her powerful wit and equally effective fists. And throughout the first season, we slowly discover most of this is to avoid dealing with the memories of Kilgrave (a story told at the latter end of the Bendis/Gaydos series). But we also learn Jessica’s reticence to engage with people goes deeper. Much of her attitude and paths to addiction were cemented well before her ill-fated attempt at superhero antics and meeting the Purple Man. Also, intimacy of all kinds give her pause, even if she made a good-faith attempt with Luke Cage (Mike Colter).

Like the crumbling apartment around her, Jessica cannot face the actual process of healing. But it makes her all the more compelling as we learn more about the traumas in her life and the ways she avoided dealing with them. Which, even if she directly dealt with Kilgrave last season, means she begins the second season still denying things and wavering on the path to recovery.


3. She Is Not Shy About It

Krysten Ritter in Marvel's Jessica Jones season 2 (David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

In moments of clarity — or, at least, now that she has survived one season of the show and that run-in with New York’s other local heroes in Marvel’s The Defenders — Jessica will admit to some version of her flaws herself. That awareness marks her as distinctly different from, say, a near-perfect God-killer from Themyscira or a lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen with bags full of denial. It took her nearly dying to get there, but understanding why she lashes out may save her in the end.

It also means she gets to enjoy things from time to time without the specter of denial hanging over her.

Having at least a partial understanding of her impulses means Jessica is in a place where that initial attempt to be a hero can grow into something stronger. For all the anxiety and distrust around her, Jessica is capable of channeling the call to heroics and present to the viewers that survival and recovery is possible. Which might seem like a small idea when compared to the Earth-shattering stakes in the Marvel film epics or even the threat of The Hand in The Defenders, but it is no less important.


4. She Forges Strong Bonds (Often in Spite of Her Stated Preference)

Marvel's Jessica Jones season 2, Rachael Taylor and Krysten Ritter (David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

Also important is the example she sets for those who (consciously or not) isolate themselves. As mentioned earlier, Jessica’s life-long friendship with Trish is one of the best elements of the first year and one which will get a larger focus in the new season. They helped one another through various crises while growing up and continue to help each other out in large and small ways; even if Jessica has a habit of destroying Trish’s stuff. Jessica’s ability to help Trish deal with her mother is one example.

But Trish is not the only person who matters to Jessica. Malcolm (Eka Darville) is the sidekick she never asked for, but he is someone she cares about; even if she tries to convince him that she is the greatest threat to his well-being. Between helping him get clean and facing what Kilgrave did to him, the two have more in common than she will admit out loud. It makes them a surprising duo. Well, at least when she will let him into the office.

And like many facing a long recovery, Jessica still defaults to old patterns and tries to push these two away despite their stated commitment to her. Their continued efforts to be there for her suggests they see she has a good heart buried under so much pain.


5. She Is the Female Defender (Even If She Grouses About It)

Marvel's The Defenders (Sarah Shatz/Netflix)

Thanks to the events of The Defenders, Jessica’s New York now understands the prevalence of super-powered individuals among them. Which means she faces a whole new slew of questions about her identity as the second season of the series begins. It also means she falls back on her favorite tactics to avoid those issues. Nonetheless, Jessica’s biggest question relates right back to the time she and Trish decided she should try to be a hero like those distant Avengers up in the sky.

Trauma is not exclusive to Jessica or her corner of Manhattan, but Jessica Jones is the rare program to view these issues from a woman’s perspective and bring the very nature of heroics into question. Sure, she has the powers, but the mental bandwidth required to face the pressures of being a superhero does not come as easy. To a certain extent, this makes her choice to get involved in The Defenders despite the escalating weirdness – and the fact The Hand never targeted her specifically – the most heroic of the four.

Now whether or not she is willing to make a choice to defend people like that again anytime soon will be a question for the new season as a serial killer stalks the superpowered community. Also, Trish’s investigation into the origin of her powers forces her to face the interior threat she’d rather drink to forget, but it once again makes Jessica the most humane of the television comic book heroes and the hero we need right now.

Marvel's Jessica Jones keyart (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Find out what Ritter herself said about the topic in our interview with her, “Jessica Jones’ Krysten Ritter on Her ‘A–hole’ Character, #MeToo, and Missing Her Defenders Buddies.”

Marvel’s Jessica Jones season 2 premieres Thursday, March 8 on Netflix.


Tag Cloud

USA Network 2017 Summer cars werewolf rotten movies we love Premiere Dates crime finale E3 NYCC Tarantino Ellie Kemper Pet Sematary Television Critics Association directors superhero Tubi TCA Winter 2020 Starz Acorn TV Spike space scary movies Hulu OWN nbcuniversal Grammys vampires Disney+ Disney Plus ABC Superheroe sequel Election mockumentary Logo Sundance TV Land CBS All Access Disney Plus christmas movies green book Infographic technology MSNBC reviews Mary Poppins Returns TNT movies TIFF Captain marvel Tumblr batman See It Skip It series The Arrangement mission: impossible discovery toy story Crunchyroll kids latino Toys PlayStation crime thriller slashers Best and Worst CW Seed Valentine's Day Extras franchise cartoon Disney streaming service spider-man Masterpiece dark 20th Century Fox spinoff Showtime Syfy Columbia Pictures canceled TV shows CNN elevated horror movie Super Bowl AMC richard e. Grant Elton John Trailer Video Games Britbox composers SundanceTV Black History Month Rock YA Teen cops Rocketman Disney OneApp free movies BBC One video on demand HBO Go 4/20 Character Guide Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Adult Swim 2020 Apple First Look USA Musical Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Lionsgate fast and furious Marvel Studios transformers a nightmare on elm street Hallmark Christmas movies crime drama foreign Apple TV Plus Mystery Comic Book crossover Sundance TV Country 2018 joker Pride Month GIFs Quiz Watching Series Lifetime Christmas movies science fiction boxoffice sag awards Certified Fresh YouTube Premium anthology Western FXX President DC Comics aliens emmy awards Brie Larson game show zero dark thirty TV casting The Walking Dead GoT comiccon Funimation ghosts children's TV cancelled television BAFTA serial killer First Reviews 2016 FOX Mudbound WarnerMedia dragons Trivia biography cats game of thrones cooking Anna Paquin Sony Pictures BBC America anime HBO Podcast TV renewals jamie lee curtis Sneak Peek dramedy streaming Set visit Apple TV+ Women's History Month Star Trek dceu Martial Arts Bravo stop motion Epix Freeform revenge spanish language Chernobyl cancelled TV series Pixar Peacock screenings critics DGA hist Action renewed TV shows BET Tomatazos Fantasy Black Mirror Ovation docudrama Spectrum Originals political drama Rom-Com VICE Writers Guild of America Vudu BET Awards television MTV travel police drama animated dogs El Rey cinemax doctor who X-Men Countdown Red Carpet mutant talk show Amazon Studios Family Sundance Now Year in Review DirecTV romance Paramount Food Network The CW A24 IFC 71st Emmy Awards Mary Tyler Moore rotten true crime blaxploitation versus Animation 72 Emmy Awards comedies diversity obituary canceled witnail teaser Emmy Nominations Music nature Crackle The Witch CMT stoner films festivals dc Shudder parents Marvel Television stand-up comedy PBS Comedy Central LGBTQ strong female leads cancelled TV shows Amazon Prime Video Christmas screen actors guild documentary ABC Family criterion Disney Channel WGN Polls and Games all-time National Geographic Esquire Warner Bros. History Heroines HBO Max breaking bad Universal theme song Classic Film disaster zombies Amazon Prime IFC Films FX on Hulu Nominations SXSW documentaries Comics on TV what to watch 2015 Avengers Fox News Reality Star Wars sitcom 2019 TCA Endgame Box Office unscripted Stephen King award winner Reality Competition Lifetime CBS book chucky quibi politics thriller Lucasfilm blockbuster Oscars American Society of Cinematographers indiana jones cancelled Arrowverse TCA Awards Pop TV miniseries zombie halloween golden globes Shondaland video ratings Song of Ice and Fire Academy Awards 24 frames twilight concert news spy thriller Baby Yoda best Discovery Channel RT History Winter TV Ghostbusters Mary poppins binge singing competition Thanksgiving Walt Disney Pictures comics 007 E! justice league ESPN Trophy Talk south america San Diego Comic-Con YouTube Red Pirates TBS 21st Century Fox spain GLAAD facebook Mindy Kaling VOD romantic comedy Nat Geo Horror robots harry potter TCM Dark Horse Comics Marathons Spring TV war psychological thriller die hard Travel Channel worst New York Comic Con based on movie Awards Tour universal monsters supernatural medical drama Photos Holidays asian-american Television Academy YouTube ITV RT21 Sci-Fi Kids & Family BBC natural history social media child's play Film Festival hispanic indie VH1 Binge Guide Amazon SDCC MCU laika adventure Turner classics Turner Classic Movies Creative Arts Emmys Cannes The Purge Emmys independent Comedy NBC A&E Superheroes Interview TLC Nickelodeon tv talk DC streaming service Calendar TCA 2017 historical drama adaptation comic LGBT Cosplay APB Cartoon Network Awards Fall TV period drama Film Paramount Network Holiday sports Winners psycho Rocky reboot DC Universe Opinion Drama Hear Us Out Netflix Christmas movies name the review Marvel satire Netflix PaleyFest Musicals hollywood TruTV Hallmark FX Pop Schedule Biopics 45 cults