As the November 20th release date for the inaugural season of Jessica Jones draws closer, fan anticipation is at an all-time high. The second of four planned Netflix-based series Marvel has up its sleeve, Jones looks to be the darkest adaptation to date that the company has included in its shared film and television universe. Krysten Ritter is set to star as the titular character, a private investigator attempting to leave her life as a superhero behind while battling a debilitating case of post traumatic stress disorder.
We've already discussed the Jessica Jones character at length here on Screen Rant, but after you check out her new trailer, let's take a look at what you should expect to see from her first live-action appearance.
Here are 10 Things You Need to Know Before Season 1 of Jessica Jones.
In 2001, celebrated comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis was tasked with creating Alias, the first comic book series to headline Marvel's MAX imprint. Aimed at a very specific audience, the MAX imprint was created to produce completely uncensored—and oftentimes explicit—comic content for Marvel's more mature readers. Bendis originally planned to use Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman) in the lead role, but ultimately decided to use an original creation: Jessica Jones. Alias introduced Jones as a world-weary former superhero that had become a private eye in an effort to escape her horrific past, though she constantly found herself being drawn back in to the world she left behind. Her backstory and origins as a crime fighter are gradually revealed via flashbacks throughout the series.
Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has been very vocal about her love for Alias, telling reporters at the press tour for the Television Critics Association back in July about the comic's impact on her series (via SlashFilm):
It all starts with Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias series. He created this incredibly flawed, damaged, interesting character. Regardless of gender, it was the character that drew me. He wasn’t afraid to go there and we went even further. We’ve gone further in all of our storytelling.
From everything we've seen so far, it seems safe to say that fans can expect to see many of their favorite Alias storylines make their way to the small screen in the coming weeks.
By the time TV audiences first meet Ms. Jones, she'll likely have already been to hell and back. In the comics, her early retirement as a superhero came about as a direct result of a torturous, eight month long stint under the mind control of the villainous Zebediah Killgrave, better known as Purple Man. A former spy with the ability to produce pheromones and verbally control the thoughts and actions of others, Purple Man forced the super-powered Jones to do everything and anything he wanted—leaving her an emotional mess with a wicked case of PTSD. Alias picked up some time after that, and it appears the Netflix series will do the same.
Promotional material has teased the all-knowing nature of Purple Man—who will be played by former Doctor Who star David Tennant—and recent set photos have revealed that he'll have an even bigger role to play in the Marvel shared universe than previously believed. While Jones has likely managed to escape his clutches by the time the series picks up, we have a feeling Purple Man has more horrors in store for her in the future.
A Jessica Jones TV series has been in some phase of development since 2010, with screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg originall spearheading the project for ABC. After the network passed on the series, Jones was shopped around elsewhere before finally finding a home on Netflix. Alongside Marvel heavy-hitters Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, Jones will eventually fight alongside the other three in a Defenders series team-up somewhere down the road. Rosenberg has described the Netflix version of Jones as a "page one do-over" from the original iteration over at ABC, though her hard work will finally pay off in a few short weeks with a significantly darker adaptation than a major network like ABC could have ever allowed.
Marvel fans wouldn't be judged for being a bit skeptical of Rosenberg's involvement in the project. The 53 year old's varied resume—highlighted by screenwriting duties on movies like Step Up and the entire Twilight series, none of which were very well-received—doesn't seem to be the most natural fit for the noir-themed world of Jessica Jones. But it's Rosenberg's Emmy-nominated run as writer and executive producer on the Showtime series Dexter that has us excited. Having worked on Jones for the better part of five years, this is clearly a passion project for Rosenberg. If the pilot episode's warm New York Comic-Con reception is any indication, she may have just knocked this one out of the park.
Since the series has been in development for the last half decade, it's understandable that Jessica Jones has undergone several significant changes on the road to production. Aside from the obvious uptick in adult content the show can utilize, now that it's been produced for Netflix rather than ABC, fans may be surprised to find out that Captain Marvel was going to be a principal character in the series at one point. "I had Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and Carol Danvers [for the pilot script]," Rosenberg told reporters. "Basically, I wanted those three guys - then I would have a series.” Ultimately, Marvel had much bigger plans for Danvers, announcing a movie adaptation for the character late last year. Captain Marvel's release date has been pushed back twice in the last 12 months, and an actress still hasn't been cast, though Marvel president Kevin Feige maintains that she is a character of the highest priority for the studio.
Filling in for the former Ms. Marvel as Jones' close friend/confidant is Trish 'Patsy' Walker, played by Rachael Taylor. Walker, a radio talk show host, popped up in the first batch of official images that Marvel/Netflix released for the show, so she'll most likely be playing a significant supporting role. No word yet on whether Walker will become the superhero known as Hellcat like she does in the comics.
Ritter's no stranger to the small screen, having appeared in shows like Breaking Bad and Veronica Mars before headlining her own short-lived (but well-received) sitcom, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Her film resume is a bit less impressive, as the 33 year old actress oftentimes found herself being typecast as the best friend of the female lead in movies like Confessions of a Shopaholic and She's Out of My League. Landing the lead role in Jessica Jones has Ritter's career on a serious upswing though, which is why we named her one of our rising stars of this fall's TV season.
Ritter has said that she's become addicted to the Jessica Jones comics and has described the show's scripts as "f---ing fantastic." When asked about her character, she told NY Comic-Con reporters that she's excited to be portraying a "strong badass, tough female character that we haven’t really seen before.” Ritter's talent has been heavily underused in her 10+ years in the business; here's hoping Jessica Jones turns out to be the big break that she's definitely earned.
Before Ritter was cast as the lead in Jessica Jones late last year, she was reported to have had some stiff competition on her hands. A few weeks prior, Deadline got the rumor mill spinning by reporting that several other names were on Marvel's shortlist for Ms. Jones: Alexandra Daddario, Marin Ireland, Jessica De Gouw, and Teresa Palmer. Most fans found themselves calling for Daddario or Ritter to take on the role, with fellow candidates Ireland (The Slap), De Gouw (Arrow), and Palmer largely being dismissed as poor fits for the part. All five actresses ended up screentesting opposite Luke Cage candidates Mike Colter and Lance Gross.
Contrary to the public's opinion, Marvel's final casting decision for Jessica Jones reportedly came down to Ritter and Palmer, the latter of whom who was fresh off the success of her hit film, Warm Bodies. Palmer, who had been cast as Talia al Ghul in George Miller's failed Justice League: Mortal film years earlier, ultimately lost out on the role to Ritter.
Thanks in no small part to his screentest chemistry with Ritter, Mike Colter was selected to portray Marvel's Power Man, Luke Cage, who will play a major role in Jessica Jones before getting his own series next year. The 39 year old actor is best known for his roles in shows like The Good Wife and Ringer, though his resume also includes smaller parts in hit films like Zero Dark Thirty and Men in Black 3.
In the comics, Cage marries Jones and has a family with her, but don't expect to see any of that start to materialize for another year or two at least. The noir-filled world of Marvel's Netflix series will likely take its time getting to the happier parts of these heroes' stories.
Joining Ritter and Colter on the protagonists' side of things is Carrie Anne Moss, who's set to play the gender-flipped role of Jeryn Hogarth, an attorney who later takes on a managerial position at Cage's Heroes for Hire business. Moss's character has raised suspicions (read: hopes) that Cage's partner, Iron Fist, will make an appearance in Marvel's Netflix world sooner rather than later. With Moss, Colter, the aforementioned Taylor and Tennant, and a few other notables, the cast of Jessica Jones has shaped up to be one of the more interesting collections of talent on television.
Daredevil's astounding success on Netflix is well-documented, and it's helped pave the way for Jessica Jones to make her live-action debut. But while Jones' inaugural outing will take place in the same city (even the same neighborhood) in which the Man Without Fear operates, these two series will be very different. Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb, confirmed as much when speaking to reporters at an event a few months back:
When we first started talking about Daredevil, we promised that we were telling a story that was first a crime drama and then a superhero show. This is more of a psychological thriller.
What Jessica Jones will lack in costumed vigilantism, it will attempt make up for with an interesting character study dealing with the repercussions of superhero-dom. Jones' dark past has left her suffering from an horrific case of PTSD, and it stands to reason that the worst may be yet to come.
But that doesn't mean that the series will be completely devoid of action. Jones' powers include super strength and flight, abilities we'll surely see on display on an episodic basis. We've received brief glances at Jones' powers in teaser trailers, and at the end of the day, this is a comic book adaptation; the action quota will be filled.
After the conclusion of season one of Jessica Jones, Marvel fans have quite a bit to look forward, and we're not even talking about Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. 2016 will bring with it the first season of Luke Cage as well as the highly-anticipated second season of Daredevil, both of which will lay the groundwork for the street-level team-up series, The Defenders. Daredevil, Cage, and Jones will headline the series, (hopefully) along with live-action newcomer Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist.
The latter has had a difficult go of it thus far in his adaptation process, but even if Marvel can't figure out a way to realistically bring Iron Fist into the grounded superhero world that Netflix is creating, the big machine won't stop. We just saw it happen with Civil War: Marvel couldn't get the rights to a key character (Spider-Man) in time, so they essentially replaced his role in the proceedings with another hero (Black Panther). Should The Defenders series be ready to roll cameras before the Iron Fist conundrum has been solved, another character (like Punisher or Elektra) could theoretically fill the void. Ideally, however, that can be avoided, and Iron Fist will join his fellow Defenders in the street-level battle for New York.
Marvel has done an excellent job in building their ever-expanding shared universe, and they often take every opportunity to remind viewers just how connected everything is. The first season of Daredevil featured dozens of easter eggs and references to the rest of the MCU, so fans should expect Jessica Jones to follow suit. Regarding just how connected the series will be to the rest of the Marvel universe, Rosenberg has made her desires very clear:
As we go along things will alter in terms of what is made available to us, but we're definitely in that universe. We are in no way denying that that universe exists. And as much as I can I'm going to pull everything in from there that I can use.
Though Daredevil star Charlie Cox has said that he is unlikely to make an appearance in this season of Jessica Jones, the two heroes are in fact operating in the same neighborhood, so you have to imagine they'll cross paths at some point. Crossovers are of course very much in Marvel's plans, though for now, fans will have to settle for Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple showing up in Jessica Jones, a rumor Rosenberg herself confirmed. Even if this first season only features in-the-flesh appearances by two of the four Defenders, it will undoubtedly sport its share of easter eggs. Eagle-eyed Marvel die-hards would be wise to avoid blinking as much as possible.
One of the riskier properties Marvel has attempted to adapt so far, Jessica Jones looks to be one of the hottest (and most adult-oriented) new shows of the year. While Jones may not have the name recognition of her fellow Netflix superhero, Daredevil, the distinctive nature of this series could help the company reach a whole new audience. The idea of Marvel's fan base growing any bigger seems impossible, but original approaches like this can make it happen.
Will you be tuning in next month to catch Marvel's foray into the darkness? Which characters do you want to see appear on the show? How troubling do you find the trailer's complete and utter lack of Squirrel Girl? As always, be sure to sound off in the comments below.
Jessica Jones will be made available on Netflix starting November 20th, 2015; Luke Cage season one and Daredevil season two will debut in 2016; Iron Fist and The Defenders will arrive sometime after that.