The Daredevil show on Netflix offered up an interesting opportunity for Marvel. As much success as they have had with the MCU, there are subjects that Hollywood just won’t allow. Is it wrong? I don’t really think so, kids still enjoy superheroes and look for a laugh just as much as they do action. Plus, laughs make more money than serious topics. I talked about it in my Assault on Arkham review. Comedy shields all. Netflix allows creators to create raunchy, serious shows that make people think. Daredevil dove deep into Catholicism and guilt. Matt Murdock sincerely wanted to be a good person. His brain couldn’t ignore the fact that Kingpin wasn’t a good person. He didn’t want to be condemned to hell, but Kingpin had to be stopped. It was interesting and would have been hard to do in a movie. This September, Luke Cage gets his own show. It’s one of the first, if not the first show where a black superhero has his own show. Marvel has an opportunity to tackle what it means to be a black superhero in America. Do people look at you different? Do they think you’re qualified or just another hoodlum? Iron Fist gets his own show next year as well. Marvel has an opportunity to tackle the issue of culture identity. Danny Rand is white male, but who is heavily influenced by Asian culture. How will this affect him while in America? Will people also treat him different? How will he fit? Marvel has proven they can tackle these issues in a serious, but intriguing way, so I am excited for both of these shows in the future.
Now with Jessica Jones, Marvel tackled an issue people tend to ignore for a plethora of reasons. It has gotten more attention with shows like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but most people, and by people I mean men, don’t acknowledge it as a problem. I’m talking about rape and rape culture. More specifically victim blaming. Jessica Jones as a show has something to say, but doesn’t throw it directly in your face. If you want, you can ignore the message of the show and focus on the interesting plot. But if you listen, you can fully understand that this show is trying to help people understand what it is like to be a victim of rape.
WHO IS JESSICA JONES?
We know by now that everyone in Hell’s Kitchen is tough. The city isn’t a forgiving one. You can’t just lay down when it hits you in the mouth. Jessica is no different. Her introduction is a strong one. We get introduced to her snarky humor, her glowing toughness, but also, her alcoholism. This is the first clue we get. Jessica has a few moments in the first episode where someone is messing with her brain. How does she cope with this continued mental abuse? Alcohol. We learn very quickly who the main villain of the show. In the comics he is commonly known as Purple Man. Here, he is called Kilgrave. He clearly has messed with Jessica, but we don’t know the extent of it. Jessica runs her own Private Investigation company. She is very talented and smart. A family asks her to find their missing daughter. The girl, Hope, is under Kilgrave’s control. When Kilgrave tells you to do something, you do it. The crazy thing about his powers are that people are completely aware of what they’re doing. They can even try to fight it, but it is no use. Once you are under his power, you cannot get out. He forces Hope to kill her parents and Jessica vows to get her out of jail. We are also introduced to the awesome Luke Cage early on too. The chemistry between him and Jessica is undeniable. He is such a cool, calm character and I can’t wait for his show.
The plot of the show moves nicely to me. Jessica eventually pushes Luke away because she doesn’t want to feel responsible if Kilgrave gets a hold of him. It’s foreshadowing an epic showdown later on in the show. You can clearly see the hold that Kilgrave has on Jessica. Her toughness is real, but somewhat of a façade. She needs help. But she doesn’t want to ask for it. Why? The answer to me comes from her interactions with the other characters in the show.
The show doesn’t mess around when it comes to the villain of this show. Kilgrave is a classic sociopath. The show has a creepy aura around it at the beginning. There is this question of who is he? What does he want with Jessica? The answer surprised me honestly. Early on in the show, Jessica realizes that someone is spying on her for Kilgrave. She finds out that it’s actually her neighbor, and somewhat friend, Malcolm. He’s a drug addict who wants to get his degree in social work. Kilgrave is stalking Jessica and when Jessica stops Malcolm, Kilgrave makes Jessica still send him pictures. Every day at 10:00 am. This made my stomach turn. You can see the fear in Jessica’s eyes whenever she sees him. You can feel her pain when she talks about him. Later on in the show, Jessica couldn’t take the pressure anymore. Kilgrave killed one of her neighbors and intruded her apartment. She tries to get herself thrown in jail, but Kilgrave isn’t having it. He forces the police to let her go. Kilgrave buys Jessica’s old house from when she was a kid, before she got her powers. He invites her to come out and stay with him. Jessica doesn’t want anyone else to suffer so she agrees. What do we find out next? Kilgrave is in love with her! It’s a weird moment because Jessica doesn’t feel anything for him at all. Kilgrave is a sick, lonely man who doesn’t know how to talk or deal with people. We learn that his parents did experiments on him that eventually gave him his powers. He frames it in a way so that Jessica feels bad for him. It’s an interesting moment in the show, because Jessica’s heart shows here. She considers actually helping Kilgrave become a hero alongside her. At the end though, she decides to capture him. The show reaches its climax shortly after this. Jessica finds Kilgraves parents. It is revealed that his powers are in fact a virus that infects people. As he’s escaping, Jessica realizes she is immune to his powers. Kilgrave kills his mom and his father soon after. The final confrontation between the two is pretty crazy. Jessica was apart from Luke for a while in the show. Kilgrave makes his most bold move yet. He orchestrates Luke’s bar to be blown up, and then for him to lure Jessica into a trap. The fight between the two is heartbreaking because of their love for each other. In the last episode, Jessica tracks down Kilgrave. She is still immune to his powers, but acts as though she isn’t. She fakes a smile for him, picks him up with her hand, and kills him. I have never been more satisfied at a villain’s death.
EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A HERO
I skipped over a bunch of details above, but that’s because I wanted to talk about them separately. I stated earlier, that this show has excellent commentary on how we as a country, treat women who have been raped. When Jessica starts to tell people about Kilgrave, most people act as if she is talking about a ghost. We hear, “Are you sure you’re not making it up?” Her lawyer friend, Hogarth acts incredibly ignorant about the entire situation. She isn’t necessarily doing anything evil, but ignorance does not mean innocence. Hogarth had plenty of chances to help Jessica, or even just listen to her. All she cared about though was her failing marriage (which she messed up) and her stupid winning cases record. Even her best friend, Trish Walker, says it to her. We hear the same thing in real life whenever women accuse a man of rape. It’s sickening to me, because our preconceived notions on rape affect how we treat these women. Throughout the show, the word hero is thrown around a bunch. Everyone in this show wants to be a hero. EVERYONE. Why? Well, they simply don’t believe Jessica can. That’s incredibly dumb. People in this show act is if Jessica is a weak individual because of the things she’s been through. Time and time again though, the girl proves she is better than most people. She is willing to save her friends, her neighbors, and even people who don’t necessarily like her. When she saves Robyn and the rest of the people from the focus group from dying, Robyn has the audacity to still be mad at Jessica! This is a sad unfortunate truth in our society. People sometimes don’t care about one another. I don’t like to be a cynic, but it’s true. Jessica is looked at liked damaged goods. Everyone judges her next move, and believes something might be wrong with her when she makes a decision regarding Kilgrave. It’s disgusting. And you can ignore that if you want to. But if you look at current cases of rape, especially against “untouchable” men such as athletes, we think these women are crazy sometimes. Kilgrave isn’t anything special. His powers make him untouchable, but he isn’t contributing anything to society. Now, I make this upcoming comparison because this is where rape is ignored the most. I played sports. I love watching sports and will still rather watch a good football game over any news show. But, athletes in our culture are untouchable. We assume someone is a good person simply because they can throw a damn ball. Any time a young girl says an athlete or someone in a position of power (politician, rapper, celebrity) raped them, we presume them innocent almost immediately. Yes, we are more sensitive to it as of late, but it still happens too frequently. We hear things like, “She just wants her 15 minutes of fame.” And we defend these men and for what? Because they do mandatory community service with the team? Because they read to some fifth graders? Athletes are fun as hell to watch, but contribute little to nothing to society as a whole. Only a select few can impact culture (Lebron James, Serena Williams, Conor McGregor, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton are a few) in ways that are truly long lasting. The athletes who made an impact in the past didn’t do so because of their talent. Muhmmad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Kareem Abul-Jabbear, and so many others. Our society has held these men on a pedestal and we refuse to listen to these women’s pleas for help. Baylor University is going through a scandal right now where over five years of sexual assaults on their campus involving athletes were covered up. Jessica is not only battling with Kilgrave in this show, but American culture. It’s exhausting to watch sometimes.
Jessica even says the word rape. Kilgrave is such a sociopath, he believes that he and Jessica had a real connection. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve talked to men who say “She was completely asking for it. She liked it.” Now I’m not an advocate for women dressing like whores or acting shameful, but the accountability is completely uneven. Jessica was forced to do sexual acts she didn’t want to do, and she still feels guilty about it. Why? The girl didn’t do anything yet has to hide her true feelings. She murdered Luke Cage’s wife Reva, and still feels guilty about it. I really wish our society would stop tormenting women who have been through so much already. And I’m a man. Men love to still act as if women are inferior. Not all men though. Most people know how ridiculous of a notion it is to believe women are still inferior. But these men who are raping women clearly need help. Selective accountability plagues our culture with some of our most important issues. Race and women are the two issues selective accountability is the most seen. These misogynistic men love to parade around as if they own this world. Everything in life needs to be placed upon the man’s shoulders. Money, job, family, everything is included in what it means to be a “man.” Where does that definition stop though? Usually when alcohol is involved at a party. Men to me, shouldn’t act like that. Our society loves to put more blame on women who are drunk and choose to have sex. When law states that any women who is clearly intoxicated can’t give consent. It’s impossible. “We were both drunk,” is selective accountability. As men, we can’t want to be “men” when it comes to everything else, but not in how we treat women. Men who still choose to have sex with women when the girl is drunk, but they aren’t, is sickening too. All of it contributes to this culture. I laugh at guys who seriously think it is okay to do this to women, and not call it rape. Not all men are Kilgrave, but a handful are just as delusional.
Officer Simpson is another problem I have with this show. He gets controlled by Kilgrave early on. He tries to kill Trish but is eventually stopped. Jessica tricks his brain into thinking Trish is dead, breaking Kilgrave’s control. Later, Simpson works hard to win over Trish. Eventually, they sleep together and become somewhat of a couple. His misogynistic views manifest themselves early. Trish has just as many problems as Jessica does. She is majorly insecure and has mommy issues. Jessica wears her emotions on her sleeve more. She hides her pain with the two A’s. Attitude and alcohol. Simpson immediately judges Jessica because of this. The other reason he judges her is because he’s jealous. I wish superheroes were real, but honestly, our culture might rip them apart. Americans are too cowardly to accept things we don’t understand. Whether it is racism, rape, religious discrimination, or whatever. If you don’t have to deal with something, you don’t care to learn about it. That’s true ignorance. If superheroes were real, I believe their biggest opponents wouldn’t be the criminals they’re fighting, it would be law enforcement and the military. Simpson is both. He sees Jessica as this wannabe hero who doesn’t deserve her powers. Every decision he makes is because he doesn’t like Jessica. She doesn’t measure up to what he believes is the ideal strong woman (Trish.) This leads to him going crazy by the end of the series. He takes these pills that basically turn him superhuman. He kills detective Clemons and tries to kill Jessica and Trish. Trish wants the same thing honestly. She feels weak compared to the rest of the world. She wants to be a hero. I don’t think these people understand that being a hero isn’t always physical strength. Compassion, selflessness, and impact make a hero more than physical prowess does. Jessica displays this constantly throughout the show more than anyone else. When Trish and Simpson have their fight, they both are on those crazy drugs. The look in their eyes says, “This is awesome!” It’s saddening because this is what they crave the most. Not being a hero, not saving lives, but feeling in control. Jessica’s eyes as she watches them fight tell the whole story. She is weirded out by the enjoyment they are getting out of the fight. It ends how it should have though. Simpson is defeated and taken by a group of soldiers, and Trish almost dies. Not everyone is meant to be that type of hero. You can be a hero in the courtroom, the classroom, the office. Just because you don’t think someone isn’t capable of being a hero, it doesn’t mean you are either.
Ignorance is a choice. Whether it is about race in America, rape culture, foreign policy, politics, sports, religion, whatever. If you want to learn about something, you can. Google provides us with an opportunity to no longer stay blind on an issue even if it doesn’t directly affect us. That’s what the internet was made for. Jessica Jones does a great job illustrating the problem with rape in America. If we continue to treat these women like damaged goods, they can’t recover or move on. Not every girl has the resolve Jessica has. Even with her superhuman strength, Kilgrave almost broke her completely. We, as a society need to do better at stopping injustices in our country. It starts by understanding the topic at hand and accepting that our “American” way of doing things hasn’t always been right, and won’t lead us to a better tomorrow, but a dark, prejudiced future.
Overall though, this show looked great. I love Hell’s Kitchen. The fight scenes were a bit weird sometimes, but Jessica isn’t a martial artist. Neither is Luke Cage. I was used to the precision Daredevil had in his show, and it spoiled me. I thought the pacing of the show was fine. I felt engaged during every episode. Just when I thought they were going to drag something out, they completely flipped my expectations on my head. It’s made me more excited for Luke Cage and Iron Fist. I highly recommend this series to anybody who wants a deep, thoughtful superhero show that challenges the way we look at things. I can’t wait for the second season.
I really hope you enjoyed this review. Remember to follow me @Hero_Review to get news tweets and retweets! My next review will be coming Saturday night as I review one of the greatest Marvel graphic novels, Daredevil: Born Again. Until next time!!