For many fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while they’ve enjoyed the films that Marvel has produced over the years, they’ve found their villains to be flawed. Thankfully, that hasn’t been an issue on the television side of things. When Daredevil hit the streaming service earlier this year, fans were quick to praise both Vincent D’Onofrio‘s portrayal as Wilson Fisk a.k.a the Kingpin, as well as the way the character was written. He was a fully fleshed out character that had fans constantly questioning whether he truly was the bad guy of the story.
Then Jessica Jones hit Netflix last month, introducing one of Marvel’s most terrifying villains to date. Much like was the case with Fisk in Daredevil, there was a sense of humanity to Kilgrave (David Tennant), but unlike with Fisk, we knew that Kilgrave was the bad guy. He was driven by his own selfish desires, willing to destroy anything in his way to get what he wanted. So when he was killed off at the end of the season, it was hard not to take some pleasure in it after everything he’d done over the course of thirteen episodes. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, David Tennant talked about what it was like to play a character like Kilgrave, and what he thinks about his fate.
One of the most fascinating things about Jessica Jones was how it managed to standout in a genre full of varied stories. It was a psychological thriller first, and a superhero show second, something we hadn’t really seen done up until now. Even the show’s villain managed to standout in a sea of stereotypical bad guys. For Tennant, that was one of the most interesting things about Kilgrave.
The fact that Kilgrave was a psychological menace rather than a physical one on Jessica Jones was such a fresh take on what a comic book villain can be.
Yes, he’s not really interested in the usual. His objectives aren’t taking over Asgard or becoming the leader of the free world. It’s a different type of supervillain in that sense. He doesn’t have the ambition that they often have. It’s his own worldview that he’s interested in bettering and not much else.
Another thing the show managed to do perfectly was display the trauma of sexual assault and PTSD. It didn’t gloss over anything. It was front and center. The pain and anger that our characters felt, we as the audience could understand. It’s not a story that’s usually told in a superhero series, and it could have gone terribly wrong had it not been handled properly, but it was handled properly. For Tennant, that’s a credit to showrunner Melissa Rosenberg.
The way that the show dealt with real issues like sexual assault and PTSD within this fantastical world was groundbreaking, and it all stemmed from Kilgrave’s actions. How did you feel about that?
Looking at it now, it really is quite bold. A Marvel show is probably not where you’d look to find those kinds of stories being told. But that’s a credit really to our showrunner Melissa Rosenberg. She told those stories with such a sensitivity so I don’t think it ever feels voyeuristic or titillating. Despite the fact that we’re telling stories about people with superpowers, we’re telling stories about human beings going through some truly terrible times and dealing with fairly dark subject matter. Melissa judged that really well and everyone responded to the scripts that she wrote. It’s all a credit to her that she was able to take these stories to some really dark corners.
When Tennant was officially cast as Kilgrave, many fans wondered how long Kilgrave would stick around. While the films tend to kill off villains after a single film, the television side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to handle villains differently. At the end of Daredevil‘s first season, Fisk was still alive and seemed like a given for the show’s second season – although he has yet to be confirmed to return. For Tennant, he never planned on doing more than a single season when he signed on for the project.
When you first signed on to Jessica Jones, did you know that Kilgrave was going to be killed in the finale?
I was only looking to do one [season] so I didn’t quite know where it was going to end up. But it wasn’t a massive surprise for me. I knew I wouldn’t come back for [season] two. Whether that meant I was going to be locked up in jail or dead, you never quite know with shows set in these worlds. But it was a perfect story arc. It was all about Jessica empowering herself and taking control and literally slaying her demons. It would have been unsatisfying if it didn’t end with Kilgrave being put out of action.
At the end of the first episode, there’s a haunting shot with Hope (Erin Moriarty) after she murdered her parents, where she turns to look at Jessica and tells her to smile. It’s a scene that is called back to in the moment when Jessica finally kills Kilgrave after telling him to smile. It’s a nice way to tie up the story-line, giving a sense of closure to not only Jessica but also Hope. Even though Kilgrave is dead, that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see him pop up in the MCU again at some point. When asked about his character’s potential future within the MCU, Tennant insisted he wasn’t entirely sure if there’s a “central part” for his character to play going forward.
What does Kilgrave’s death mean for your future in the Netflix/Marvel franchise? Is there any chance you could pop up in flashbacks or some other way in season two?
I would never even try to guess what they have planned for a second season, if there even will be a second season. Who knows what Melissa has in store? I don’t think I’ll have a central part to play because what is interesting now is where Jessica goes after Kilgrave. But I’m totally in the dark.
You can currently stream the entire first season of Jessica Jones on Netflix now!
Source: The Hollywood Reporter.