Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jessica Jones Season One


There's a world of difference between making things dark and gritty for the sake of it and exploring actual human darkness and complexity. Too often, what happens is that the whole "comics aren't for kids anymore" thing winds up just adding surface grit. They turn down the colors, add a bunch of violence and say "bam! this is now realistic!" but it's not, Zack Snyder, it's not! But when it's done correctly, we get Jessica Jones, which is probably the only time I've ever seen the real implications of superhero shit handled seriously in live action. 

When this show was announced, I was excited because I really loved the comic, Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. Bendis can be a bit much, but this is probably his masterpiece. It's a corner of the Marvel Universe that he pretty much created. He originally wanted the character to be ex Spider-Woman Jessica Drew, but I think it's better that failed superhero turned private eye Jessica Jones is a character he created for this and nobody really remembers her attempt at costumed heroics. The comic, like the show, winds up exploring the dark toll of her powers as well as what happens when one is mentally raped for years, pulling no punches whatsoever. So of all the Marvel shows coming to Netflix it was the one I was most excited for, but I didn't think they'd get it this right.


For starters, Krysten Ritter just is Jessica. I'm not sure I've ever seen better casting for a comic based thing. The angst just radiates off her but you also see a flicker of hope in there somewhere in her eyes or the way she walks. This is a woman who wants to believe in something: she wants to believe that she can atone, that humanity is worth her sense of guilt and responsibility.  She's that damn good. The show is that damn good. 

The whole atmosphere of the show just feels real. There are moments where they are out in the crowded streets of New York where I was struck by how "unproduced" it all felt. It seemed as thought they just went out and shot on the street, as is, which I'm sure they didn't, but they certainly pulled it off. There was just something about the way these characters, particularly Jessica, walk and generally inhabit the city, that felt very much alive in a way I haven't seen since maybe Taxi Driver or other 70s productions. I don't know. It's probably best not to even analyze it too much. As expected, I enjoyed this a whole lot more than the adequate Daredevil series. Still, I'm looking forward to more of this side of Marvel's universe on Netflix.  And more Jessica Jones, specifically.

jessica jones

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