Over the past two years, Marvel Television and Netflix have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From the gritty and grounded Daredevil, to the haunting and realistic Jessica Jones, these shows have set a high bar not just for Marvel Television, but also for the MCU as a whole. With excellent writing and highly impressive casts, Daredevil and Jessica Jones have showcased a much darker part of the MCU that we don’t typically get to see on the big screen – that’s especially true for the latter. In a matter of thirteen episodes, the first season of Jessica Jones managed to showcase the traumatic aftereffects of rape with such care and attention, allowing the series to truly delve deep into Jessica’s past. It made the choice to let Jessica’s story be first and foremost and keep the superpowers a secondary thing. For most comic book shows? That’d be impossible, but for Jessica Jones, it worked.

Taking time out of her busy schedule, Jessica Jones herself, Krysten Ritter, sat down with the folks over at Espn W to talk about the series, the reception it received, and the need for more female superheroes. The actress also explained what it was that drew her to the character.

Since the series debuted back in November, it has received heaps of praise from both critics and fans alike, and has even gone on to land a Peabody Award back in April. For Ritter, seeing the amount of praise the series has received over the months has been incredibly surprising. While she knew the show was special, she didn’t expect it to become as big as it has. (In recent months, the series has even been considered a possible Emmy contender!)

espnW: Were you expecting this kind of massive and positive response to “Jessica Jones?”

Krysten Ritter: It was definitely a surprise. It’s so exciting. We all worked really hard on this show. I knew the show was special and am so proud of it, but the response and the life the show has taken on since coming out has just been amazing. Fans come up to me and see themselves represented through Jessica, which as an artist it becomes bigger than you. Since the show, I’ve been able to experience it in a totally different way. It keeps going!

As fans of Jessica Jones and Alias know, Jessica isn’t the typical superhero. After what Kilgrave does to her, she decides to give up that life completely, instead turning towards Private Investigation to make a living. Saying Jessica is a bit of a mess would be putting it lightly. For Ritter, though, that was part of the appeal.

espnW: Jessica Jones is not your typical superhero. She’s reluctant to say the least, and she doesn’t look the part. How did that inform your approach to the role?

KR: I love all of that about Jessica! I love that she’s so left of center. I never imagined myself playing a superhero because I don’t see myself the way superheroes have been portrayed or shown to me my entire life. And then, when I read the script and talked to Marvel and our show-runner, Melissa Rosenberg, I loved what they were doing. I just played her like a woman with a traumatic past, who is very strong. You don’t meet Jessica at the beginning of her journey. You meet her at the beginning of this inciting incident of Kilgrave coming back into her life, but we’re really meeting her at the end of a journey. I just felt like she was so strong and could handle anything. The superhero element, the powers, the strength, I didn’t play as some supernatural thing, I tried to play it as real as possible.

Back when casting was still underway for the series and Ritter was announced as one of the finalists for the role, there were many that insisted she’d be wrong for the role, stressing that her appearance wasn’t what they’d imagined for Jessica Jones. Something Ritter seemingly agreed with, noting that prior to Jessica Jones, she never thought she’d ever actually play a superhero as she didn’t fit the images often depicted in comics. However, as we’ve since seen, Ritter was the absolute right choice for the role, delivering a hauntingly stunning performance from the very first episode until the final frame of the season finale.

espnW: I want to go back to what you said about not imagining yourself playing a superhero because you don’t see yourself in the way those characters have been portrayed. What did you mean by that?

KR: Well, I think we all know what the drawings look like: an hourglass figure, the boobs, and the hair and all of that. I don’t see myself that way; I don’t think anybody sees me that way. Most women I know don’t see themselves that way. That’s why it never really crossed my mind, and I think that’s why Jessica Jones is having such a big life and such a moment. She’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, especially in this genre.

One of the most important things to come out of Jessica Jones was probably the fact that it proved a female-centric superhero property could, in fact, succeed. After the Sony Hack fiasco, which unearthed an e-mail by former Marvel Studios head-honcho Ike Perlmutter, in which he noted the failures of both Elektra and Catwoman, Jessica Jones ended up proving him wrong. Not only has the show found success, receiving an order for a second season, but it has also proven to be a critical darling. But as great as that all is, Ritter is mainly hoping that Jessica Jones leads to the backing of more female-fronted superhero properties.

espnW: It sounds like you derived a new sense of empowerment from doing this show.

KR: I think so! I’ve felt a responsibility in a lot of ways to carry this show and do this character justice. Like I said, I hadn’t seen a character like this portrayed before and I wanted to it justice so that more will follow. They haven’t really made a lot of female superhero movies, and they’re always quoting the failures of “Elektra” and “Catwoman”, two movies from forever ago. I’ve never seen “Elektra” or “Catwoman,” but I would just hear about [them] a lot when originally prepping for the show. People would talk about no one watching female superhero movies, because of these two, and those movies are very old. We haven’t tried. We haven’t tried enough to say that female superhero movies haven’t worked. “Supergirl” came out this year and also “Jessica Jones.” People are eating it up, and obviously there’s an appetite for it.

With Iron Fist – the last of the four shows prior to The Defenders – currently filming in New York, Ritter has been busy working on other projects before returning as Jones later this year when The Defenders is set to finally enter production. She’ll then be following up that mini-series with the highly anticipated second season of Jessica Jones.

espnW: What’s next for you?

KR: I just finished shooting a movie with a great cast called “The Hero” that will be out next year. I’m going to “The Defenders” and “Jessica Jones” season two, and right now I’m prepping for that. I’m writing a lot and taking time for myself. When I’m shooting, that’s all I do. I have so many other interests, I’m trying to make time for all of it.

You can catch Ritter in Jessica Jones which is streaming exclusively on Netflix now!

Source: ESPN W.