5 Reasons Non-Comic Book Fans Will Be Interested in Marvel's Jessica Jones

by | November 20, 2015 | Comments

Regardless of how mainstream the comic book universe has become these days, a sizable segment of pop culture consumers remains resistant. Then again, these people haven’t met Jessica Jones, private eye. Cracking impossible cases is her specialty, making Netflix’s choice to follow-up Daredevil with this title a shrewd strategy.

The 13-episode first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available today to Netflix subscribers. If you have a comic book geek in your household, you already may have accepted that you will not see said loved one for most of the weekend. Or, maybe you happen to be that obsessed human, and nothing would make you happier than to share your viewing binge with a special someone whose only shortcoming is the rejection of anything involving tights and flights.

Good news, true believers – Jessica Jones is satisfying to both camps. Here are five reasons why this series is the perfect TV drama for viewers who aren’t comic book fans.

It’s a noir detective story that wears its comic book elements like a secret identity.

Jessica Jones

Let’s begin by reassuring anyone who couldn’t care less about the Marvel Universe or, really, any tale that originated as drawings rendered in ink and comic sans font, that we get it. Honestly, with all the costumed heroes and villains on TV, even the most dedicated nerds must be a little numb to the appeal of overly-muscled people shoving each other through walls.

But in a world saturated with masked heroes, maybe the best place to hide is in plain sight. That’s precisely what Jessica Jones the character — and Jessica Jones the series — is doing.

While it exists within the same universe as Daredevil and the Avengers theatrical franchise and will eventually be part of a team-up series Netflix has brewing (The Defenders), the truth about Jessica Jones is that it’s a hardboiled TV detective drama about loneliness, control, and how a human soul recovers from violation.

Jessica Jones is molded in the tradition of great TV detectives.

As Krysten Ritter plays her, Jessica doesn’t smile much. She’ll bend the law and, if the situation calls for it, she’ll twist arms and bruise kneecaps. Jessica’s fiercely protective of the people who are close to her, especially her best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), a successful radio show host.

The gifted gumshoe twisted by emotional and psychological damage is a classic TV archetype; Jessica, who runs Alias Investigations out of a dingy flat, has the daily life challenges that come standard with the P.I. package. Burgeoning drinking problem? Check. Wasted potential? Bingo.

Jessica also possesses immense strength and can jump several stories into the air. The show doesn’t lean hard on her superhuman talents, though. Instead, her most brutal battles are psychological: Jessica’s refusal to exploit her strength leaves her without a sense of life purpose, even before a life-altering crime leaves her burdened with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In that sense, Jessica Jones is a very earth-bound, human story about power and powerlessness, in which the title character happens to be a bit more than human.

It shares a lineage with one of the most respected series on television.

Melissa Rosenberg and Jeph Loeb (Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images)
Melissa Rosenberg and Jeph Loeb (Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images)


Avid comic book readers know how important family history is to any origin story. Creator Melissa Rosenberg served as an executive producer on several seasons of Showtime’s Dexter.

Rosenberg’s involvement with Dexter is worth noting because it means she’s versed in writing multi-faceted heroes who have touched darkness. This is who Jessica Jones is, only she is the absolute opposite of a sociopath. Don’t let the deadpan noir-style narration fool you – emotions are her driving force.

The story handles the topic of trauma with thoughtfulness and care.

Jessica Jones

Too often, television series have used images of violence against women as a plot accessory, utilized to further motivate male protagonists or to make an obvious villain seem that much more ruthless. The victim, meanwhile, is just that: a one-dimensional device, rarely developed beyond her service to a specific, horrible turn of events.

Jessica Jones takes that horrendous trope and demonstrates how to handle it in a way that doesn’t exploit the victims. Jessica’s nemesis, an obsessive narcissist known as Kilgrave (David Tennant), uses mind control to get everything he wants – money, houses, surveillance — and makes his prey commit heinous acts that they’re unable to stop.

Mental gifts are common in the comic book world, as are conflicts that pit unique brain powers against prodigious brawn. In Jessica Jones those concepts clash to illustrate real-world horror in complex ways.

The cast is outstanding.

Jessica Jones

The charm that made Tennant a legendary Time Lord in the Doctor Who pantheon is employed with chilling precision here, making Kilgrave oddly seductive even as he’s tormenting Jessica.

As perfectly cast as he is, it’s hard to imagine anyone besides Ritter in the role. Jessica Jones allows Ritter to plumb the depths of her dramatic intensity; Breaking Bad fans glimpsed some of that in her role as Jesse Pinkman’s doomed lover Jane, but for the most part, she registers as an actress who excels in more lighthearted roles. (You may know her as the B—- in ABC’s sitcom Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.)  Here, she matches the darkness of the drama’s color palette, all low lights and hard edges, mirroring Mike Colter’s portrayal of Luke Cage to perfection.

Marvel aficionados know the story of these two, but for the sake of the uninitiated: In the series, Luke is a bartender at a local dive that Jessica is surveilling on her own time. Their meet-cute is appropriately fraught with tension, romantic and otherwise; the ordinarily unflappable Jessica becomes a fly on the rim of a rocks glass when she first sees Luke, lazily circling the glass until she tumbles in, intoxicated. It’s a pairing that seems so right – except it isn’t, not right now. Not to worry, kids; Cage is getting his own series.

In a departure from the comics, Jeryn Hogarth’s character was reimagined as a woman and an attorney played by Carrie-Anne Moss. While Hogarth’s main purpose seems to be to exchange barbs and professional favors with Jessica, Moss favorably rounds out a cast that skews mostly female, and serves another version of what it means to be a woman with power.

Jessica Jones is one of several comic book-based TV titles airing now, featuring female superheroes existing in the human world. On paper she has more in common with CBS’s Supergirl, in that both characters have extraordinary abilities, as opposed to ABC’s Agent Carter. Peggy Carter’s weapons are her will, intellect, determination, and moxie. She can’t fly or punch through walls with her bare hands.

But with all of her struggles and flaws, Jessica feels more human.

TV critic Melanie McFarland is a Seattle-based writer and an executive member of the Television Critics Association. She has been a comic book lover since Ororo Munroe shaved her hair into a Mohawk, and prefers Batman over Superman. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

  • NameNamerson

    2hype!!! gonna binge this in a couple of days

  • lucky gmail

    Too much “m-face-is” is put on LGTB and racial mish mosh. The show could be just as good without it!

    • Leo F

      The show practically never mentions race, except for a pillow talk gag that Colter absolutely nails. Also why are you spelling the word emphasis like that?

    • SR

      And it’s even better with it. #weneeddiversity

    • Doodlee Pigvirus

      save it for the Klan meeting, patriot.

  • SgtMAD

    Jessica Jones blows away the idea that Marvel can’t and won’t do a female driven surperhero drama,it is nothing like anything they have ever put on the screen (big or small)
    if you have a wife or girlfriend that gives you crap about Marvel,make deal with her to watch this show, she will love the way this series is skewed female.
    of course ,there are a few fan bois out there whining about hating the show but what do you expect from some of the younger crowd that are into all the Avengers movies,all they want is everything blowing up and not much else,not that it is a bad thing, just not what you are going to see on JS

  • Rusty Elbows

    Jessica Jones kicked butt!
    Excellent new series and something to look forward to.

  • Eric Erickson

    I enjoy superhero movies, but have never picked up a comic book in my life. When Netflix ‘suggested’ this show to me a few days ago, I figured I would give it go while multi-tasking – you know, have it on in the background…and I wasn’t paying close attention when the credits noted that it was from Marvel. I had never heard of Jessica Jones and had no idea this was a superhero show. At first I was all: what is going on here?! After I just let the show wash over me, I was quickly addicted – this show is amazing. I have four episodes left, and might not finish it tomorrow because I just don’t want it to end.

  • our team just put together this Jessica Jones infographic to help fans that may not know who she is. Check it out on our blog here


Tag Cloud

zombies cops Best and Worst Arrowverse Bravo Photos Superheroes Creative Arts Emmys Apple Character Guide Shondaland OWN Ghostbusters Grammys finale The Purge mockumentary WGN crime Watching Series Comics on TV Western miniseries politics DirecTV Esquire Country independent TNT Tarantino VH1 hispanic political drama Film justice league FX Epix Sundance Now theme song Disney Plus Television Academy Premiere Dates Ovation YouTube Red Turner Classic Movies Lionsgate E! Fall TV war A&E adventure Film Festival Martial Arts spain Heroines cinemax serial killer Universal quibi indie Amazon Prime Video toy story First Reviews Polls and Games YA Crunchyroll Rom-Com GIFs Comic Book Turner joker See It Skip It Drama sequel Columbia Pictures Christmas award winner based on movie nature romance Winter TV spanish language game of thrones GoT spinoff Amazon psychological thriller romantic comedy book stand-up comedy BBC America Disney+ Disney Plus Cannes renewed TV shows cults adaptation facebook video rotten movies we love DGA Cosplay Musical Fox News GLAAD ESPN latino spider-man Food Network A24 2018 President true crime Election Box Office Paramount San Diego Comic-Con Mudbound harry potter 20th Century Fox south america Dark Horse Comics Warner Bros. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ratings Schedule historical drama CBS kids halloween zero dark thirty Horror composers LGBT Trailer Super Bowl Sundance cars Binge Guide technology Trophy Talk Red Carpet Nat Geo anthology blockbuster witnail aliens Countdown cats unscripted cancelled 45 Classic Film Acorn TV animated discovery Amazon Prime Crackle Calendar Winners Thanksgiving vampires elevated horror children's TV Showtime cancelled TV series comiccon slashers New York Comic Con PBS Oscars AMC dceu Reality Chernobyl biography Sneak Peek strong female leads CW Seed Sci-Fi 2019 Reality Competition Summer Interview comic IFC Films HBO Max Emmys Sony Pictures 71st Emmy Awards FXX TLC SXSW TIFF The Arrangement Pride Month space Set visit USA mutant Disney streaming service Apple TV+ Anna Paquin robots cartoon Biopics IFC 2017 Syfy NBC golden globes BBC crime drama The Witch doctor who Elton John versus singing competition RT History transformers DC Universe Disney Channel CMT The CW medical drama LGBTQ Star Trek Holidays revenge Extras Year in Review talk show social media Captain marvel Comedy Central Mary Poppins Returns Kids & Family Cartoon Network 2015 Mary poppins Shudder SundanceTV cancelled TV shows Pop BET Family Netflix YouTube Premium teaser Mary Tyler Moore NYCC Logo boxoffice TV renewals tv talk Stephen King dramedy Writers Guild of America travel police drama Comedy Pixar Nickelodeon Black Mirror crossover disaster Britbox cooking SDCC 2016 CBS All Access diversity Paramount Network Peacock Valentine's Day Podcast Quiz Ellie Kemper game show El Rey canceled TV shows Mystery National Geographic 007 American Society of Cinematographers ABC Family TCA 2017 Action Netflix Christmas movies supernatural cancelled television Lifetime Christmas movies docudrama Pirates casting Certified Fresh Masterpiece Animation 24 frames zombie crime thriller comics canceled Hallmark FOX TV Land 21st Century Fox ghosts Musicals science fiction Spike Video Games X-Men Mindy Kaling Toys movies E3 Spring TV Marvel Television Teen Superheroe Infographic richard e. Grant television ABC MCU free movies USA Network Apple TV Plus Tumblr Walt Disney Pictures Awards Tour series screenings PaleyFest Hulu thriller spy thriller Freeform Fantasy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Brie Larson YouTube green book Star Wars Disney Adult Swim binge Nominations Holiday what to watch TCA WarnerMedia natural history TBS RT21 DC streaming service Opinion Starz MTV Hallmark Christmas movies Emmy Nominations Trivia batman streaming Lifetime APB period drama Women's History Month sports dc Vudu blaxploitation Marvel Studios Pet Sematary The Walking Dead HBO Marvel Awards Rocky Lucasfilm First Look christmas movies Spectrum Originals festivals Rocketman Tomatazos sitcom breaking bad Music CNN TV Song of Ice and Fire TruTV VICE ITV Marathons anime psycho foreign MSNBC TCM hist DC Comics jamie lee curtis dragons werewolf History Rock