Marvel had an impressive showing at New York City Comic Con over the weekend as audiences not only got to see three out of the four Defenders on stage together, but also a surprise debut of the first episode of the upcoming Netflix series Marvel’s Jessica Jones. We were thrilled to be on hand at the Jessica Jones panel and see this preview of the first episode more than a month before the show’s Netflix debut on November 20. After watching the premiere and listening to the panel here’s what we can share and what we’re most excited for–without giving too much away of course.
Marvel is getting dark. Really dark.
Daredevil was Marvel’s first real foray into darker territory as the show took a surprisingly violent turn that audiences had yet to see in any of the other Marvel franchises. Jessica Jones promises to take this to the next level. This isn’t going to be a show to watch with the kids. The titular character’s sordid history embellishes upon the seedier underbelly of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Daredevil began to build in its first season. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) is dealing with her past and drinking to forget the pain and trauma she experienced during her short stint as a super hero. David Tennant makes a brief appearance as Killgrave, or the Purple Man, with whom Jessica has a chilling history. Anyone who is familiar with the comics might already know some of Jessica’s past entanglement with Killgrave, but it looks like Marvel is taking it a step further in this iteration of the characters. She’s clearly dealing with a type of post-traumatic stress related to her relationship with Killgrave and although we didn’t see too much of Tennant in the first episode, he promises to be an atrocious character as more of his and Jessica’s backstory is revealed.
Sexuality is taking center stage.
At the panel on Saturday, Jeph Leob (Marvel’s Head of Television) revealed that Carrie-Anne Moss will be playing a gender-swapped version of Jeryn–or in this iteration, Jeri Hogarth, a high-powered attorney with ties to Iron First. Not only did they swap a woman into this role, but they made Jeri a lesbian–Marvel’s first outwardly gay female character (at least on screen), in one of the most important roles in the show. We’re excited to see where this one goes, particularly as it looks like Jeri isn’t making the best choices when it comes to her love life. Marvel only just introduced an openly gay character on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, so here’s hoping they treat Jeri’s character with nuance that a Netflix series might be able to afford over a traditional network show.
Not only do we get a taste of Marvel’s first steps into representing queer characters, we also get a look at Marvel testing the boundaries of how they represent sex. Jessica Jones has sex scenes (it’s not a kids’ show, remember?), and these are intensely frank, in your face scenes. The best part about these scenes, though, is that Jessica is very much in control of her sexuality. Her past history isn’t holding her back. She isn’t going to be reduced to a sex symbol or a trophy to be won by any of her male costars–Jessica gets to stand on her own two feet and claim her sexuality for her own. It’s refreshing to see, particularly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where sex has been mostly tip-toed around or heavily implied. Not that we’re getting any full-frontal nudity here; Marvel has set up some interesting boundaries for itself, and we’re interested to see how they play with that as the series progresses.
The Defenders are coming.
Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage in Jessica Jones, revealed Marvel has already begun production on Marvel’s Luke Cage. Colter’s character, ahem, features heavily in the first episode of Jessica Jones, and we will certainly see more of him on Jessica Jones too: Luke and Jesssica have an undeniable chemistry on screen. With the announcement of Carrie-Anne Moss as Hogarth, we get a glimpse into the ties with Danny Rand (a.k.a. Iron Fist), who will star in the fourth Marvel/Netflix collaboration. The four heroes–Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand–will all come together in a crossover mini series called The Defenders, which promises to only expand on this gritty universe Marvel is building within its Netflix series. If Daredevil and what we’ve seen of Jessica Jones is any indication, we’re excited to see more of Luke Cage in his own series, as well as Danny Rand in Iron Fist. The Defenders will surely be the culmination of these series.
You’re going to want to take November 20th off. Seriously.
If you liked Darevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones is going to be a real treat. It continues on the theme of the gritty, dark world of Hell’s Kitchen, bringing violence and sex to a place where Marvel hasn’t gone before. We’ve got another female-driven cast that promises to break the mold of the practically all-male superhero narrative that’s been going for years. It’s also a visually very interesting show: Marvel has nailed the noir aspect of Jessica Jones–and not in an overt way. Sure, Hell’s Kitchen looks as gritty as ever, but you won’t need to adjust the contrast on your TV screens and monitors just to get in on the action. They’ve set up a real engine to drive the show forward: Jessica’s PI agency, and the cases that spawn from there.
But it isn’t the cases that we’ll be looking for as Netflix’s autoplay feature takes over: it’s Jessica herself. Krysten Ritter plays Jessica as strong but damaged, giving her a tough and acerbic edge that makes her terribly convincing. She gives the impression that she’s vulnerable and just barely keeping it all together, yet still manages to be impossibly strong. The first episode spends a lot of time building up Jessica’s character, touching on her backstory, and painting with broad strokes the relationships she has with Luke Cage, Jeri Hogarth, Killgrave, and others. We don’t know too much about the other characters yet, but the episode planted seeds, hinting at much more to follow. We do, however, come out of the first episode having a surprisingly clear picture of who Jessica is and where she’s been. We see a path laid out for her and hope that she’ll be able to navigate it. It’s Jessica herself that we’ll be binge watching for on November 20th, and we’re looking forward to the whole twisted ride.
Are you as excited as we are for Jessica Jones? Sound off in the comments below!
Marvel’s Jessica Jones first season premieres on Netflix with all 13 episodes on November 20, 2015.
Sarah is a self-professed TV Junkie and is currently studying TV writing at UCLA. When she isn't binge watching TV on Netflix, Sarah is usually working on writing a pilot or screenplay. Her favorite shows include How to Get Away with Murder, all the Marvel TV shows, and a whole host of embarrassing reality TV. Follow @smarshwrites on Twitter, where Sarah will be live tweeting her favorite shows and sharing writing woes.