In the comics, Jessica has one of the more tragic storylines. She’s a washed-up Avenger who has been the victim of terrible, terrible abuse that I don’t even want to talk too much about. Let’s just say she’s a troubled character with a dark and tragic past. Let’s also say this dark, tragic, and abusive past came to her from the hands of other people in which she had no control.
I’ve noticed a recurring theme in the MCU regarding how it handles the representation of women. Marvel has strong female characters, but some are far more developed than others. Arguably, the two most developed MCU women are Black Widow and Agent Peggy Carter.
In Age of Ultron we learn that Black Widow has been rendered infertile due to the graduation ceremony from her time in the Red Room – many fans were enraged at the idea that Widow is a “monster” due to her infertility, but they missed the point of Widow’s flashback. The point of the flashback is that Widow had something taken from her against her will; the point of the story is that femininity and heroism don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The representation of everyone’s favorite Soviet spy in Age of Ultron further solidified her importance and role as a superhero in the MCU. (For a deeper feminist analysis of Black Widow in Age of Ultron, check out Alyssa Rosenberg’s article in The Washington Post.)
Agent Peggy Carter
Agent Peggy Carter embodies this as well and it is developed even more deeply in her ABC series Agent Carter. Peggy is literally a woman in a man’s world. Set in New York post-WWII, the show very intelligently portrays the life of a woman in a place in which men were entirely dominant. Agent Carter should have been celebrated in her role in helping bring down the Red Skull, but instead she was left to do “women things,” like filing and secretarial work. In the first episode of season one, we see that Agent Carter has had it with the chauvinism in a scene with her and Agent Thompson.
Elsewhere in the MCU
Other powerful and strong women are represented as well, like, Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Pepper Potts, Agent Bobbi Morse, Gamora, Jane Foster, Karen Page, and others.
What’s interesting, though, is that, so far, Jessica Jones’ backstory closely resembles that of Black Widow and Agent Carter in the sense that they were so heavily influenced and manipulated by others that they are now somewhat damaged by that. They are still feeling the effects of that no matter how much time has passed. In Age of Ultron, even though Black Widow is still emotional about her past, she is still able to be a founding member and important part of the Avengers team, and in Agent Carter, Peggy is still able to help Howard Stark even though none of her male counterparts take her seriously despite the fact that she has far more combat experience than most of them.
What does this mean for Jessica Jones?
The question now is: how will Jessica Jones overcome her past? How will Jessica overcome what happens to her throughout the season with David Tennant’s Kilgrave as the main villain (In the comics, it’s Kilgrave who is Jessica’s abuser)? Just by what’s shown in the teaser, it seems fairly obvious that Kilgrave will be mentally manipulating Jessica, and that at some point, Jessica will be turning to alcohol for comfort. It will also be interesting to see if her role as a private investigator will play a part in the events of Marvel’s Daredevil that took place in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Luckily, we have another show that’s dedicated to a Marvel woman, and it’ll be interesting and exciting to see the evolution of Jessica Jones as one of Marvel’s newest leading ladies. Given Marvel’s history of creating and representing strong women, I am so excited and have faith that they will do Jessica Jones justice!
Do you think Jessica Jones has the potential to become as well developed as Agent Carter and Black Widow? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
All episodes of Marvel’s Jessica Jones will be available to stream on November 20, 2015. If you haven’t already watched Marvel’s Daredevil, I highly recommend watching that before Jessica Jones. Happy binging!
Ever since her short-lived stint as a Super Hero ended in tragedy, Jessica Jones has been rebuilding her personal life and career as a hot-tempered, sardonic, badass private detective in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Plagued by self-loathing, and a wicked case of PTSD, Jessica battles demons from within and without, using her extraordinary abilities as an unlikely champion for those in need… especially if they’re willing to cut her a check. – Netflix