Why Jessica Jones is the #MeToo Marvel superhero we need
Commentary: Marvel superhero Jessica Jones is the perfect role model. She doesn't suffer fools; she punches them square in the jaw.
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
There's something about Jessica Jones, played expertly on
by Krysten Ritter, that makes me want to get up and shout, "Hell yes!" every time I see her grab a misogynistic stranger by the collar and shake him. It might not seem politically correct to say, but I get a strong sense of satisfaction when I see a woman throw a punch after being harassed.
Marvel's Jessica Jones returns to Netflix for season 2 on Thursday, and I've missed the Marvel superhero's hard-drinking, sarcastic, rage-fueled approach. In some ways, she's the very antihero we need in this #MeToo climate of women speaking up and fighting back.
Jessica isn't interested in conforming to the kinds of stereotypes a lot of female superheroes are subjected to. She doesn't abide by the usual superhero credo that people come first. She's not polite. She's not there to mother other superheroes, or wear a tight-fitting Lycra costume, or be the love interest to a male superhero.
Jessica's a superhero with the sorts of issues many modern women face, like harassment, assault and post-traumatic stress disorder. The first season of the Netflix show dealt heavily with those issues as Jessica confronted her tragic, complicated past.
books, Jessica was exposed to an experimental radioactive material in a car accident that killed her whole family. Later, she was experimented on by a mysterious group and traumatized by her mind-controlling nemesis and rapist Kilgrave, played by a menacing David Tennant.
Jessica's anger reflects that of many women fed up with being mistreated. In fact, "Jessica Jones" executive producer and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg said this week that everything from the #MeToo movement to Hillary Clinton's treatment during the 2016 presidential election influenced season two.
"We walked in really pissed off ourselves," Rosenberg told NPR. "And, not surprisingly, it sort of filtered its way into the storytelling. This year, we're really digging into Jessica's rage."
That rage also influenced how the series was made, with Rosenberg making sure every one of the 13 episodes was directed by a woman.
The first five episodes jump right into the #MeToo movement with a storyline involving a filmmaker who abuses women.
In true Jessica Jones fashion, our private-investigator Marvel superhero confronts the filmmaker in a way many women have imagined since we first heard of the real-life abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. Let's just say Jessica isn't the type to talk things out during a confrontation.
"It's cool and exciting to have a show that can express the anger that a lot of people are feeling," Ritter told The Hollywood Reporter. "It doesn't happen every day that you're on a show you love doing and acting in that also inspires a lot of social conversations."
In the new season, Jessica is on a quest to dig up the truth about her childhood, and she won't let anyone stand in her way in the process, including the new enemy and rival private investigator Pryce Cheng (Terry Chen), who tries to bully her out of her P.I. company Alias Investigations.
Appropriately, the new season of "Jessica Jones" debuts on Netflix worldwide on International Women's Day, Thursday. And though Jessica's best friend, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), will be back to help her, Jessica seems to do best when she's fighting the bad guys on her own. Which usually means punch first and don't bother apologizing later.