Hello, it’s Alex here, I went to an event for Claire, I’m good like that, and here is my write up.
Back in November 2013 when Netflix announced it had signed an agreement to make 4 series based on the superheroes of New York’s Hells Kitchen, I have to admit I was excited. If you don’t know your Marvel super heroes that well, Hells Kitchen is home to Daredevil, probably my favourite superhero. We’ve had the Daredevil series on Netflix already this year and it turned out to be more brilliant than anyone really had any hope of expecting, so when Jessica Jones premièred on Netflix over the weekend, breaths were held as it had an awful lot to live up to.
But lets take a step back for a moment; when I say superhero, you say spandex. It’s natural, even though the cinematic Spider-Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Captain America or Iron Man aren’t quite as primary colour as a lot of the comic book stuff you might have seen as a kid, the cinematic outings, Nolan’s Batman films aside, are probably best described as “family friendly”. Unless of course you’ve got the Blu Ray of Watchmen or Kick Ass in front of you but that’s something else entirely.
Daredevil (you can read my review here) was gritty and violent. Very violent. Right from the start people got hurt and hurt badly, and if they did get hurt, they weren’t okay for the next episode because actions had consequences. Netflix Studios managed that very difficult thing of getting people with super powers rooted in the real world- it was like the very best bits of NBC’s first series of Heroes distilled and held at that level for an entire series. It was no surprise that a second series was commissioned before the first had ended.
Unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones isn’t such a long established character. Matt Murdock’s alter ego has been around since the mid 60’s but Jones was created in the early noughties. Despite that, she’s done lots of stuff but the series (so far at least) focusses on her private investigator role, keeping it properly grounded in the more gritty world that Daredevil created.
Superhero movies are often a compromise, partly due to their run time but partly due to the apparent need to have an origin story taking up half the movie. When Sony rebooted Spider-Man and made it all teen angst, they didn’t need to tell us how Parker became Spidey, anyone seeing the movie could suss that out. Jessica Jones avoids that trap entirely, despite a serial inherently having more time for something like an origin story, the viewer is plonked down right in the middle of the action. It’s not until we’re a good way into the first episode we get an inkling that Jessica Jones has super powers (it’s hinted at subtly in the lead up to her lifting the rear end of a car off the ground but nothing more than that), and it’s all dealt with in a really offhand way- “tell anyone and they’ll think you’re crazy” is what she tells the bloke who threatens to expose her. Nice touch.
There is an overarching villain, played by ex Doctor Who David Tennant, called Kilgrave, who, we learn, had a run in with Jessica Jones a year ago and was almost killed. He has a dead creepy super power- compulsion and this is shown off to graphic and chilling effect at the end of the first episode.
As part of the Netflix StreamTeam (well, my wife is a part of it, I went on her behalf) I went to the UK launch event of Jessica Jones in Shoreditch yesterday evening. We watched the first couple of episodes on a HUGE telly and I’m already hooked. Although it is dark, there is a strong vein of humour in it, character driven, through some great dialogue. I just know that some of my insults of choice going forwards are going to have been originally uttered by Jessica. For Marvel aficionados, Luke Cage (aka PowerMan) also appears- he’s due his own series which starts next year and filming is already under way. Sadly he lacks his iconic yellow t-shirt but that’s to be expected.
Following on from Daredevil was always going to be difficult but Jessica Jones unexpectedly manages to pull it off- it’s both darker and funnier- and after watching the first couple of episodes, I can guarantee that this weekend is going to see me watch the rest of them.