The Sublime Darkness of Jessica Jones – The Atlantic

When viewers first meet the private investigator Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), she’s throwing a client through her front-door window. Things only go downhill from there. Marvel’s newest hero, whose eponymous series debuts on Netflix this Friday, might be its most flawed, but she’s also its most fascinating, and her show marks an evolutionary leap forward for the brand’s expansive collection of movies and TV shows, deftly exploring themes of trauma, abuse, and prejudice. It’s taken too long to get here, but Jessica Jones is exactly what the overwhelmingly male Marvel Universe has been crying out for.

The show is as marked a sea change as the comic-book title on which it’s based—Alias, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos in 2001, which was the first “Marvel MAX” book, a work that could depict explicit sex, language, and violence. Jessica Jones is the second Marvel series to air on Netflix after Daredevil, but while that show was dark and violent, its hero was still a traditional do-gooder looking to take down a big bad gangster. From minute one, Jessica Jones operates in shades of grey, offering a complex character who’s haunted by a scarily mundane supervillain, and working through tribulations in sometimes ill-advised ways. It’s different, but it’s one of the best things Marvel Studios has released.

As created by Bendis, the character of Jessica operates as a sort of dark commentary on superhero fandom. She’s a normal high-school student and admirer (from afar) of Peter Parker’s until an industrial accident gives her super-strength and the ability to fly. She tries to become a costumed do-gooder, but an encounter with a powerful villain, Zebediah Killgrave, puts an end to that. So she starts a detective agency, trying to overcome both her experience with Killgrave and her ineffectiveness as a “traditional” hero.