The trailer says, “It’s time the world knew her name.” We’ll do you one better: It’s time you knew Jessica Jones, and we’ve got your crash course.
If you haven’t already seen the teaser for Marvel’s new Jessica Jones series on Netflix, well then you should spare 55 seconds of your time and watch it.
Jessica Jones isn’t exactly the best known Marvel, but she’s got plenty worth digging into, and she’s going to be important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe before it’s all said and done. The Jessica Jones series is just part two in Marvel’s four-character, four-show deal with Netflix (following Daredevil, with Luke Cage and Iron Fist still to come), and eventually they’re all going to team up Avengers style. In fact, you can kind of think of these four as street level Avengers. Only when they get together, they’re called the Defenders.
If you don’t know Jessica Jones, this trailer is a pretty good set of notes on her character; but if you do, then the details really sing.
Birch Drive & Higgins Street
The whole trailer is a mass of swirling, sometimes hard to piece together images, but the first thing we can see definitively are two street signs at an intersection: Birch Drive and Higgins Street. After the clip that was released more recently (and from the comics), we know that Jessica Jones lives and works in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, Daredevil’s neighborhood. At least so far Charlie Cox (who plays Daredevil) doesn’t show up on any credits lists for Jessica Jones, but Birch and Higgins are probably in the neighborhood. We’re not totally sure yet if there’s some extra significance here, but it’s almost certainly near either her home or her work, Alias Investigations, which shows up a little later in the trailer.
Swimming into focus next is a camera aperture, a direct reference to Jessica’s work as a private eye. The series is picking up after Jones’s failed attempt (or couple of attempts, really) at being a superhero, but she still specializes at investigating super hero activity. It helps when you’re nearly as strong as the people you’re tailing.
In the comics, one of Jones’s early cases involves a set up of Captain America. Jessica gets caught up in a plot where she’s expected to reveal Cap’s secret identity, but doesn’t. The plot is supposed to be harmful to both Cap and the President of the United States. In the MCU, secret identities (especially Captain America’s) aren’t that big a deal, but it’s not hard to imagine where a new twist on this story could play right into Captain America: Civil War – someone’s out to get Cap, and someone benefits from chaos among heroes.
The Purple Man Looms Large
The camera pretty quickly morphs into a spilled whiskey glass and then the door for Alias Investigations, but before we get there it’s worth noting the art style in this trailer is about more than just visual flash – it’s actually super reminiscent of the look and feel of the comics. That goes right down to the predominant color – purple. Purple tones are everywhere in the trailer, and particularly in the tense final 20 seconds. And they point to one of Jessica’s most fearsome rogues: The Purple Man.
The Purple Man, A.K.A. Zebediah Killgrave, is actually more associated with Daredevil, but he’s got a very twisted history with Jessica. Back when she was trying to be a superhero, he mind controlled her, made her his servant, and tried to use her to kill Daredevil. Yeah, this is one messed up dude. As one redditor put it, “The stupidity of The Purple Man’s name is directly proportionate to the depravity of his actions.” So what does that mean for this trailer?
As the trailer becomes both more intense and more purple, the perspective shifts from something that looks like a memory in the street signs, to an eye, to events seen at a progressively longer distance (spilled drink, agency door) to a labyrinthine city where a lone figure seems lost in the center. The whole trailer is almost like watching Jessica lose more and more of herself until she can’t even be sure her actions are her own anymore. You can even hear a taunting call of “Jessica…” at both the nine second and 16 second marks.
It’s also worth noting that the Purple Man has had run-ins with Baron Zemo in the past. If Zemo is somehow behind the villainy Jessica encounters in the show, the whole season could be a massive backstory for how things go off the rails in Civil War. So far Marvel hasn’t made its TV stories necessary viewing for its movies, and that’s probably still the case. But Jessica Jones could add lots of depth for those who have taken the time.
Traumas Upon Traumas
Ok, so back to that whisky glass. Jessica’s life has not been a pleasant one. She was orphaned as a child, basically failed trying to be a super hero, and spent months being brainwashed and abused by the Purple Man. The woman has some psychological baggage, which in the comics often surface as romantic problems for which Jessica seeks sexual cures that aren’t all that healthy.
But the other thing the upturned glass could be pointing to is the source of Jessica’s power – and more childhood trauma.
Unlike many heroes in the Marvelverse, Jessica isn’t an alien, a mutant, or a billionaire genius. She’s just a normal girl from New York…who had the misfortune of being partially at-fault for the accident that killed her mother, father, and brother and got her doused in experimental chemicals. Don’t be surprised if someone knocks over a drink in the show and it flashes back to her childhood to show the accident – actress Elizabeth Cappuccino is appearing in three episodes as young Jessica.
That brings us up to the most specific reference in the whole trailer – broken glass as someone is flung through the window of the Alias Investigations office. This actually happens within the first four pages of Alias #1, and it looks nearly identical as it does here. Jessica’s life is a hard and lonely one. She’s an alienated character who doesn’t fit in well anywhere.
That’s brought home by the trailer’s final shot – a lone figure against the cityscape. In the far distance is Avengers Tower (the former Stark tower), which sort of represents the unattainable to Jessica in the comics and might even more so here. For all the world-ending stakes the MCU pulls together, the films stay light, bright, and full of humor. The Avengers’ world is one where things come easy. Jessica is never comfortable when she spends time with the Avengers in the comics, and the distance of the tower, high above and far away from the mean streets Jessica inhabits, probably points to the rougher, darker tone that the series will share with Daredevil and the other Defenders shows.
So that’s the teaser, and there’s your primer on Jessica Jones. It’s a surprisingly dense trailer, with a lot of detailed imagery packed into less than a minute.
What do you think? Are you excited for Jessica Jones? Are Marvel and Netflix going to be able to fit in some of the character’s more risqué elements? Comment below with your thoughts.