We're just a few short weeks away from the long-awaited premiere of Netflix's second Marvel series, Jessica Jones. The show hopes to replicate the success of its predecessor, Daredevil, which proved to be a smash hit for the online streaming service. The first season of Matt Murdock's crime fighting adventures garnered huge ratings for Netflix and has managed to maintain a 4.6/5 star rating in the six months since its release. Critical reception for the series has been just as impressive, as Daredevil has tallied a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 75/100 on Metacritic.
Clearly, the bar has been set incredibly high for Ms. Jones, a character who's significantly less well-known than her fearless, red-suited counterpart. With momentum steadily building towards the release of her inaugural live-action outing, let's take a look at 10 Things You Should Know About Jessica Jones.
One of the greenest heroes Marvel has chosen to include in their shared universe, Jones made her debut in November of 2001 in Alias #1. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, perhaps best known for co-creating Miles Morales, sought to introduce a female hero to headline the first MAX imprint, a series of uncensored comics targeted at mature audiences only. The five time Eisner Award winner originally intended to use Jessica Drew (better known as Spider-Woman) in the lead role, though due to continuity concerns, she was replaced by an original character, Jessica Jones. Artist Michael Gaydos, who worked alongside Bendis on Jones for several years, is also credited with her creation.
A former superheroine-turned-private investigator, Jones' comic operated in the dark recesses of the Marvel Comics world, bringing a sense of grounded realism and noir that fans should expect to feature heavily in the Netflix adaptation. Bendis, who was not directly involved in the development of the series, has described Jessica Jones as "faithful and lively and everything that I could personally have wanted from the show."
Creator approval isn't always a sure-fire sign of a hit, but considering the high praise the pilot received when it was screened at New York Comic-Con, Netflix may just have their next big series on their hands.
When fans first meet Jones in the pages of Alias, she's a private eye with extraordinary abilities and a dark past. Her back story is gradually revealed as the series progresses, eventually unveiling the events in which Jones acquired her powers. Born Jessica Campbell, her birth father—an employee of Stark Industries—was gifted tickets to Disneyland by Tony Stark himself. On the drive home from the happiest place on earth, her family was involved in a car accident with a military convoy (one carrying experimental chemicals, of course) which Jessica alone survived, though she was comatose for several months.
Upon awakening from her coma, young Jessica was adopted by the Jones family. She soon discovered that she now possessed superhuman strength and durability—as well as the ability to fly—as a result of her exposure to radiation from the accident. An outcast at Midtown High, Jones soon found her life's calling thanks to an unknowingly helpful push in the right direction from one of her adolescent crushes...
The orphaned Jessica Jones struggled to fit in with her fellow classmates, receiving particularly negative attention from frequent Peter Parker tormentor Flash Thompson. Parker attempted to reach out to console Jones but was rebuffed, though he later grabbed her attention when his masked alter-ego squared off against Sandman in the halls of Midtown High. Inspired by Spider-Man's efforts to use her newfound powers for the greater good, Jones became the costumed hero known as Jewel.
Jewel led a decidedly low-profile career as a superhero, spending four years fighting crime while managing to stay out of the headlines, unlike her childhood crush; as Spider-Man, Parker was on the front page of the Daily Bugle more often than not. She befriended a handful of other heroes along the way—most notably Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel—but for the most part, Jones' first stint as a superhero was largely uneventful.
The quiet career of Jewel came to an abrupt halt when she crossed paths with longtime Daredevil adversary, Purple Man. The villain used his pheromone-aided mind control powers to subdue and enslave Jones, subjecting her to various tortures, both mental and physical. Purple Man did not simply control her body; his abilities allowed him to command Jones' emotional desires, convincing her that she wanted to do everything he said. Jones was manipulated into living with him for eight long months, where she was forced to aid in his criminal acts and eventually tasked with killing his nemesis, Daredevil.
Upon arriving at the Avengers Mansion, Jones attacked the first red-suited hero she saw, Scarlet Witch, which allowed Jones to snap out of her Purple Man-induced trance. She attempted to flee, but was chased down and beaten into (another) coma by the Avengers, a beating that only ceased when her friend Ms. Marvel intervened. Jones emerged from her coma physically unharmed but emotionally broken. She soon same to realize that her months-long absence had gone largely unnoticed.
These events are likely to have already occurred by the start of the Netflix series, though we should expect to see plenty more villainy from Purple Man, who's being brought to life by former Doctor Who star David Tennant.
Struggling to move on from her traumatic past, Jones eventually opens up her own private eye firm, Alias Investigations. A string of failed relationships and romantic trysts with the likes of Scott Lang (the current Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Luke Cage came to pass, as Jones never strayed far from the superhero community. Many of her cases for Alias involved costumed heroes like Captain America and Daredevil, and Jones even teamed up with Jessica Drew and Cage on occasion. It was during this time that Jones and Cage finally acknowledged their feelings for one another; the two had worked alongside one another occasionally during her superhero days, but the start of their more intimate relationship has its origins here.
After becoming pregnant with Cage's child, Jones went on to work for J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle, focusing on superhero-centric stories and serving as a special consultant alongside reporter Ben Urich, who appeared in season one of Daredevil, but is... unlikely to return.
More casual comic fans are probably most familiar with this aspect of Jessica Jones' character. She and Cage share a complicated history, one that will almost certainly be a major storyline in the Netflix series. Cage was the original Hero for Hire, a super-powered being with unbreakable skin and superhuman strength who rented out his services to those in need, assuming they had the cash to pay for them. Jones had teamed up with him on several occasions in the past before the two fell in love and started a family together. Their daughter, Danielle, was named after Luke's longtime best friend and partner, Iron Fist (Danny Rand).
Married life hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, however. While they fell on the same side (Captain America's anti-registration group) during the Civil War debacle, life on the run took a serious and remarkably realistic tole on Luke and Jessica's marriage. Their relationship woes were a definite highlight of the crossover event, one that helped ground the more sensational aspects of the story. Fans shouldn't expect to see any of this play out in the already over-stuffed MCU Civil War film, but we should receive a healthy dose of marital realism play out in future seasons of their television series.
Despite their ups and downs, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, aka Power Man, remain one of the most prominent (and infinitely readable) couples in all of comics.
When the New Avengers title relaunched in 2010, it did so with both Jones and Cage in tow. The series, which was not-so-coincidentally written by Brian Michael Bendis, featured a Jessica Jones that had been convinced by her fellow heroes (Peter Parker principal among them) to once again don a pair of tights and take up her old superhero identity, Jewel. Eight issues later, Jones took on a new persona, Power Woman, to honor her husband and serve as a more direct role model for their infant daughter. (For those of you keeping track at home, Jones also had a third superhero identity, Knightress, that she called herself for a very brief period before her original retirement.)
In the years since, Jones has served as an on-again/off-again Avenger, but her primary focus in life has become her daughter Danielle, who's been put into danger on numerous occasions as a result of her famous parents. To help protect her, Cage and Jones employ fan-favorite Marvel character Squirrel Girl as a nanny.
Marvel president Kevin Feige has made no secret of his desire to keep Marvel Television connected but separate from the movie universe, though he has mentioned the inevitability that the films will more directly reference the various TV series going forward. Having already acknowledged that the opportunity for crossovers does in fact exist, some fans may be getting their hopes up that Marvel's TV characters will start showing up in the MCU (and vice versa) in the very near future. This dream scenario, as it relates to Netflix's Jessica Jones, involves Carol Danvers and Spider-Man, two characters that play significant supporting roles in Jones' origins.
The idealistic long-shot of seeing Jones share the screen with her old pal Carol Danvers (who hasn't even been cast yet) and her adolescent crush Peter Parker (whose MCU adaptation looks to be 10-15 years her junior) is just that: a long shot. Not only are there continuity concerns, but the fact of the matter remains that with both Spider-Man and Captain Marvel set to star in their own films within their next few years, there's no reason for them to show up in a Netflix series outside of outright fan-service. As much as we may want to see these heroes get their feet wet on the small screen, they simply have bigger fish to fry.
Last April, Netflix introduced audiences to the shadowy world of Daredevil, which served as a significant departure from the more light-hearted films and TV series in the MCU. That darker trend looks poised to continue with Jessica Jones, a series based on a character who earned every bit of that parental advisory warning that was stamped on the cover of her solo comics. The pages of Alias are filled with all the F-bombs (a word that accounts for three of the first six words in the first issue) and sex scenes that typically constitute a nightmare scenario for TV censors, but there's simply no way that Marvel can allow them to happen on-screen. The MCU isn't all sunshine and rainbows, but with Jones taking place within the same shared universe as family-friendly heroes like Spider-Man, the series will definitely have its limitations. Hyper-explicit sex scenes like the one glimpsed above (feel free to research the image to get proper context) will likely end up on the cutting room floor—or at least neutered to a certain degree. Expect Jones' exact tortures at the hands of Purple Man to be glossed over a bit as well.
Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has said that "the only thing we couldn't do was drop F-bombs," and fans are already buzzing about a steamy sex scene that takes place in the pilot. But the show will almost certainly have boundaries that they simply won't be allowed to cross. Jessica Jones' original adventures may have been completely uncensored, but we have a feeling her series will have its fair share of restrictions. As much as fans may be craving a hard-R adaptation, Marvel has a brand to maintain.
Despite Kevin Feige's adamant refusal to allow an MCU property to truly go "dark," there's no question that the first season of Daredevil seemed to defy that rule. With the creative minds behind Jessica Jones teasing even darker story elements, fans have to be exciting at the prospect of a Marvel series that isn't afraid to operate in the shadows and push the envelope, even if it will have certain company standards to adhere to. Netflix's original programming is highlighted by the likes of House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, decidedly adult-themed shows whose creators are allowed complete freedom. Even with the steady guiding hand of Marvel overseeing things, it would appear that Jessica Jones will prove to be the company's first true foray into the darkness.
From the promotional material we’ve glimpsed so far, it looks like Jessica will be the chain-smoking, hard drinking, adult language-using badass that fans have come to love, one with every ounce of sexual freedom she has in the comics. Minus the F-bombs, of course.
Jessica Jones will be the first female Marvel superhero to headline her own series in the MCU, and it certainly appears that they chose the right woman for the job. A complex, layered character who's completely in charge of her sexual identity, Jones should feel right at home on Netflix. Minor tweaks to the source material notwithstanding, this series looks primed to become one of the most faithful comic book adaptations yet, and could just prove to be the must-watch show of the fall season.
Which aspect of the Jessica Jones character are you most excited to see in live-action? How sorely missed do you think Spider-Man and Carol Danvers will be? Just how furious are you that a Squirrel Girl appearance hasn't been confirmed yet? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
Jessica Jones makes her Netflix debut on November 20th, 2015.