At a time when fans are beginning to ask for more female led properties – as well as more diversity – within the superhero genre, Marvel has been steadily improving on the television side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has Daisy Johnson (played by the biracial Chloe Bennet) serve as co-lead, Marvel has also released Agent Carter – the first title within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be fronted by a female character. And while these are both fantastic steps forward, the Marvel Cinematic Universe still has a ways to go when it comes to female superheroes. But with Jessica Jones set to hit Netflix later this month, that looks to finally be changing.
For executive producer Melissa Rosenberg, Jessica Jones has been a passion project. The show was originally being developed for ABC back in 2010 – along with a Hulk series and a Cloak & Dagger series. Of course, none of those projects came to fruition on ABC, but when Marvel Television and Netflix came together to bring The Defenders to the streaming network, Jessica Jones ended up finding a new home with them.
For many fans, the announcement that Jessica would be the first female Marvel hero to headline her own series on Netflix seemed like a strange choice at first. After all, Jessica Jones isn’t the typical hero. But when you look at who Jessica is and what her story entails, she actually is a perfect choice. Having already played the hero and found herself trapped in a traumatic situation for some time, Jones goes out of her way to avoid that role. All Jessica Jones is ultimately concerned with is making a living. Simple enough, right? And yet, if the trailer is anything to go by, she looks to be the most complex female character within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (As much as I love both Black Widow and Peggy Carter, it’s the truth.)
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done a pretty great job at bringing us strong female characters, the fact of the matter is that they’ve mainly played smaller roles in the films and they haven’t been truly developed. Of course, Black Widow has appeared in multiple films now, as has Agent Carter, along with headlining her own show, but instead of showcasing these characters as a whole – Marvel has mainly focused on their strengths. With Jessica Jones, we have to examine her weaknesses in order to fully understand her strength. We have to understand her post traumatic stress order, and her unwillingness to be a hero simply because she has the capability to do so. She’s a broken character that makes plenty of mistakes, but when it comes down to it, even though she doesn’t necessarily want to, Jessica Jones chooses to be a hero. That’s what makes her so interesting, and why Jessica Jones is sure to be Marvel’s biggest surprise on the small screen thus far.
But as great as it is that Marvel Television is bringing us a complex character like Jessica Jones, it’s perhaps even more exciting to see just how diverse the cast is. This is a show consisting of a rather large female cast that also includes people of color. Even better? Jessica Jones has managed to incorporate more women behind the camera too, something many fans were upset that the first season of Agent Carter failed to do. Along with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, the series has at least three female directors listed under the show’s credits (with one of those directors having directed two of the thirteen episodes), as well as a minimum of two female writers listed on the IMDB page. While Agent Carter has made good on the show’s promise to bring more diversity to the series, Jessica Jones is doing so already out of the gate. Of course, this isn’t something we should have to make a big deal of, as it’s something that should be normal in Hollywood, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. To see a female led superhero series with a female showrunner and plenty of diversity both on screen and off? It’s something worth celebrating, and something that fans are more than ready for.
Look at Supergirl, for example. DC’s first female fronted comic book show. (iZombie is a Vertigo title.) This is a show that has been a big deal since it was originally announced earlier this year. This was something different from DC, and it’s been hyped as the first female superhero comic book show to hit television in a long time. It’s a show that is set on bringing female empowerment and a certain light-hearted feel to the superhero world. And judging by the premiere ratings, it seems as though it’s the kind of show most of the world has been waiting for. While Supergirl isn’t something I’ll probably be tuning into (for now, at least), I’m glad to see it doing so well because it opens up the field for more female led superhero projects – something I’m hoping to see more of with the launch of Jessica Jones later this month. Sure, given that the series will be a Netflix exclusive, and it’s far more darker than Supergirl will probably ever be, it more than likely won’t reach nearly as many viewers, but given the attention the show has been getting? It’s bound to do just as well as Daredevil when it launches – perhaps even better.
Which brings us to my next point… If there’s one thing I hope to see come from the success of Jessica Jones, it’s the inclusion of more complex leading ladies within the MCU, along with the possible launch of a Hellcat series on Netflix. (And ABC ordering the Mockingbird series, Marvel’s Most Wanted to series while we’re at it.) With Rachael Taylor‘s Patsy “Trish” Walker taking the place of Carol Danvers, who was Jess’s best friend of sorts in the comics, it’s safe to say she’ll have a rather large role in the series. And while it isn’t confirmed that she’ll suit up as Hellcat, it’d be nice to see her gain a spin-off series on the streaming service, especially with the The Defenders mini-series still to come. Launching another female led series off of Jessica Jones, especially a complex, strong character like Patsy, would be a smart move for both Marvel & Netflix.
Introducing a character like Jessica Jones into the Marvel Cinematic Universe opens up the possibility for more complex female characters into the universe – and perhaps even more female fronted projects. (Perhaps a Ms. Marvel movie in 2020? Or a Daughters of the Dragon series on Netflix? After all, Misty Knight is officially making her debut in Luke Cage next year!) While she may not hold the honor of the first female fronted title – that honor belongs to Agent Carter – Jessica Jones is still an important addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jessica Jones will debut on Netflix on November 20th.