Jessica Jones returns to Netflix for its second season today and will, hopefully, bring the Marvel side of Netflix back to its best. After an obvious fall in standards, beginning with Luke Cage and perpetuated by Iron Fist, the return of Krysten Ritter’s title character could be a breath of fresh air for the franchise.
The first season of Jessica Jones, along with Daredevil, marks, arguably, the high point of the Marvel TV era; Ritter certainly brings out depth of emotion in her character that is lacking in that of Danny Rand (Iron Fist) and Luke Cage. This is not to say that the performances of Finn Jones as the former and Mike Colter as the latter are bad, but instead that Ritter portrays her character’s past in a way that the others do not. Let down by writing that is not on the same level as the first two series, and by the fact that the best aspects of his character and past are in fact revealed in Jessica Jones, Mike Colter’s role fails to have the same impact as Ritter’s. Danny Rand, confidently played by Jones, on the other hand, has a past that is too rooted in the mythological realm of K’un-L’un, which, through lack of true expansion and a weak script, is poorly developed and fanciful. Jones, like Colter, does his best to manoeuvre such handicaps, but ultimately falls far short of Ritter’s character.
In season one of Jessica Jones, this strength of Ritter’s performance is enhanced by that of the fantastic David Tennant. The Dr Who, Broadchurch and Casanova star plays Kilgrave, an adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Purple Man. He achieved such wide acclaim in this role that Rolling Stones magazine ranked Kilgrave at number 40 in their list of the greatest villains of all time; Tennant placed alongside infamous characters, such as Dr Who’s ‘The Master’, The Simpsons’ Mr Burns, Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon, and Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk. Kilgrave is the perfect counterpart to Jones. The notion of a past rooted in suffering leading down one of two paths is cleverly explored; we are presented with that of Jessica, who aims to help those who suffer around her, such as Eka Darville’s Malcolm Ducasse, and that of Kilgrave, the twisted villain who tries to bring more pain upon others. Yet, Tenant’s character goes beyond this; instead of embodying the stereotypical two-dimensional villain, the slow reveal of his past throughout the series encourages the viewer to experience some level of understanding, and in some cases, empathy.
The big question hanging over this new series is whether the writers can create a villain of such quality to act as the foil to the show’s protagonist; after the fall of Kilgrave at the end of the first season, there is a significant hole to be filled. One possibility could be the continued character development of Wil Traval’s Will Simpson, possibly to the extent where he becomes the villain Nuke. All that is for certain is that the show needs a decent villain, or it risks another one like the poorly developed Meachum family of Iron Fist.
Catch Season Two of Jessica Jones on Netflix now.