Marvel’s Jessica Jones is off to a strong start. I know this because yesterday at New York Comic-Con 2015, Netflix and Marvel TV screened the premiere of the series over a month before it becomes available for viewing to subscribers. And it was excellent.
Early reactions were positive and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, along with the cast and crew of the second Marvel-Netflix series, continue to prove that the Defenders shows have cracked the code on long-form mature storytelling on the Netflix platform. While the premiere brings viewers into Jessica Jones’ version of Hell’s Kitchen, New York, there’s one main character it doesn’t introduce: the unnamed one played by Australian actor Wil Traval.
When Traval was introduced by Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb to the Jessica Jones panel at NYCC, his mysterious role was described only as “NYPD Cop,” but it turns there’s a lot more to his character than Loeb would let you believe. Traval tells IGN that he’s actually the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Frank Miller Daredevil villain Frank Simpson a.k.a. Nuke… with a slight name change.
“People may recognize him from the comics. His last name is Simpson and that might give you an indication. He comes from, you know that period in the ’70s where they had post-Vietnam war and there are psycho super-soldiers so he comes from there. That’s his origin point but we’re reinventing him for the television series.”
In the main Marvel Comics universe Simpson was the subject of a super-soldier project, one similar to Weapon X (think Wolverine) and his body is enhanced with cybernetics. When he was first introduced, Kingpin had hired him to kill Daredevil, but Simpson went on to have important parts to play in various Captain America and Thunderbolts stories.
I play Wil Simpson on #JessicaJones take from that what you will.— Wil Traval (@WilTraval) October 11, 2015
It’s more likely that if Traval’s version of Nuke (with the first named swapped to his own) shares any powered or supervillain roots from the comics that Jessica Jones will draw inspiration from his Ultimate Marvel Comics origin. There, as Traval describes above, Simpson took part in a Vietnam era super-soldier program that (as always) was trying to replicate the success of Captain America (who had been absent since WWII). He shares an extreme sense of unpatriotism after his experiences in Vietnam – which, combined with the effects of his super-soldier serum, turned him into a super-villain. There are easy ways to modernize this idea and tie it to events we’ve seen in the MCU or more modern wars, even connecting it to Hydra if necessary.
As such, David Tennant’s villainous Kilgrave character may not be the only gifted antagonist in Jessica Jones – and just like Kilgrave, there are plenty of opportunities for Wil Simpson to appear in other stories down the road, should these be long-term characters.
Daredevil season one is currently available on Netflix. Jessica Jones releases November 20, 2015, followed by Luke Cage and Daredevil season 2 in 2016. Iron Fist and The Defenders will arrive sometime thereafter.
Header edited from Ultimate Captain America #1 art.