Jessica Jones Is the First Great Female Antihero (Spoiler-Free Review)

Sunday, 11 October 2015 - 9:18AM
Marvel
Jessica Jones
New York Comic Con
Sunday, 11 October 2015 - 9:18AM
Jessica Jones Is the First Great Female Antihero (Spoiler-Free Review)
For years, I've been saying that what the world (and feminism) needs is a great female antihero. We have female heroes and villains, which were both necessary stepping stones, but women won't be treated equally in pop culture until mass audiences realize that they're not only as strong as men, but equally flawed, complex, and fascinating. Where is the female Walter White, or the female Don Draper, or Han Solo, or Dexter, or House? We need female characters who are compelling rather than likable, effective rather than "strong."

Jessica Jones embodies all of the qualities of a classic antihero. She has all of the brash charisma of Han Solo, the dark humor of Dexter, the psychological damage of Don Draper (much more so, actually). But most of all, she's like House: abrasive, hedonistic, and so difficult that people will only deal with her because she's just so damn good at her job.

In this sense, she's unlike any other character on television. There are arguments to be made for Olivia Pope, but with all of that "white hat" nonsense, she's positioned mostly as a hero. And then there's Claire Underwood on House of Cards, but she plays second fiddle to Frank's classic antihero. Shiri Appleby's Rachel on UnREAL is the only other real contender, but that's on Lifetime, so no one watches it. When Jessica Jones comes out next month, the world will know her name, and the world will get its first true mainstream female antihero.

Jessica Jones will break ground for Marvel as well, as it is by far the darkest, most mature offering they've ever had, even compared to the relatively gritty Daredevil. The tone and aesthetic are distinctly and unapologetically film noir, complete with cynical, snarky voiceover, a mysterious love interest (Marvel superhero Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter, who has wonderful chemistry with Ritter), and a bleak, pessimistic view of human nature. And in another first for Marvel, David Tennant is a truly terrifying villain. His level of sadism is not for children (or fainthearted adults, for that matter), and without getting into spoilers, the psychological torture to which he subjects Jessica is too true to life to shake off easily. The character is never seen in person, but his presence and effect on Jessica's life are consistently felt throughout the episode, leading up to a genuinely shocking ending that will leave you speechless. 

Jessica Jones comes out in a little over a month, on November 20, and if the reaction at NYCC is any indication, she will take the world by storm. Fans of the comics will be relieved to know that Marvel isn't pulling its punches in adapting the beloved Alias comics, but Jessica Jones will satisfy anyone who's looking for mature television and groundbreaking female characters. We can't say for sure before seeing the entire first season, but it certainly has the potential to be the best adaptation to come out of the MCU, bar none.
Science Fiction
Comic Book TV Shows
Marvel
Jessica Jones
New York Comic Con