Long before Marvel and Netflix struck an unprecedented deal to bring The Defenders – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist – together on the small screen, and quite some time before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first foray into television, ABC had attempted to bring Jessica Jones to the small screen, along with Hulk and Cloak & Dagger. In fact, Melissa Rosenberg, who is the showrunner of Jessica Jones for Netflix, has been attached to the project since it was originally in development for ABC. (Interestingly enough, both the Hulk and Cloak & Dagger were also in development at that time.) However, since then, a lot has changed. We’ve seen Cloak & Dagger move to Freeform, and the Hulk has become a big player in various films along with his fellow Avengers. As for Jessica Jones, the show’s first season officially premiered on Netflix last year to great critical acclaim, and has easily proven to be one of Marvel’s biggest successes, even finding itself continually tossed around as a possible Emmy contender. It was a long and difficult journey for Rosenberg to get the chance to bring Jessica Jones to life, but it was definitely worth the wait.
While speaking with the folks over at Deadline, Rosenberg discussed what originally brought her into the world of Jessica Jones ever so long ago. She acknowledged that, coming off of Dexter and the Twilight films, she had gone to various meetings including one with the folks at ABC. It was during that meeting where she stated that she wanted to work with a “really damaged, complex” female superhero. That meeting led to her being put in touch with Jeph Loeb, who heads Marvel Television, and they developed a version of Jessica Jones for the network, which was ultimately shelved.
What drew you to Jessica Jones, Melissa?
Rosenberg: It was after the whole Dexter and Twilight runs when I took meetings. ABC Studios asked what I was interested in doing next. I said I’d love to do a really damaged, complex female superhero, like Iron Man. They quickly put me together with Jeph Loeb, and he brought me Jessica Jones. We did it for the ABC network, but it turned out not to be the right tone for them. Jeph went on to work on something else, but he was always about putting this together. That project was only on the page, it never went beyond that.
As great as the first season of Jessica Jones was, it’s hard not to imagine what they’d originally developed. However, going off of what Rosenberg had to say regarding the original series they’d developed? It’s safe to say the show ended up finding the right home with Netflix. Had ABC gone through with it, the version of Jessica Jones we would have gotten would’ve been a procedural.
What was different about the ABC version?
Rosenberg: When you have a series that’s on week to week with commercial breaks, it lends itself to the case-of-the-week scenario. It was heavily weighted in that direction. It was bound to be less gritty and raw. But when it went to Netflix, we weren’t looking at commercial breaks, you’re looking at someone binge watching. You’re not spending real estate on the page, reminding what the characters said before. You’re telling a 13-hour movie. So at Netflix, there was more real estate in creating depth and more time in evolving characters. Whereas on the network, it would be about trimming frames and plot. On Netflix, it was the opposite. It was about finding more scenes to shoot. We had space.
Essentially, the long journery to bring Jessica Jones to the small screen allowed Rosenberg and Loeb the chance to create evolving characters and inject more depth into the story.
The fantastic first season of Jessica Jones is available to watch on Netflix now. Krysten Ritter will next appear as the character in The Defenders, which enters production later this year, before returning for a second season of Jessica Jones. Release dates for the second season of Jessica Jones, as well as The Defenders, are currently unavailable.