Trigger Warnings: Violence, Rape, abusive relationship, PTSD, alcoholism
The long anticipated adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias into the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally arrived and, with it, a lot of people wondering if it managed to reach all the Hype Netflix’s growing Defenders shows has been getting. Bottom Line: Yes, it does.
From this point on, there will be spoilers
Before we begin, i feel the need to inform, because of the nature of the story, that Rape, as well as the trauma survivors go through afterwards, is full front in the narrative of the show.
The Main Character Jessica Jones (played wonderfully by Kristen Ritter) starts the show still suffering PTSD from the trauma she suffered under the control of a Gifted individual capable of making people do whatever he wants them to do who goes by the name Kilgrave (played by David Tennant), an who raped Jessica both physically and mentally for an entire month before a car accident made Jessica believe he had died, only for him to re-appear one year later.
The entire show is clearly inspired in Noir films, from Jessica’s narration throughout the episodes to the atmosphere and music. Something it did not take from those films, though, is the lack of color. The show is constantly using different colors throughout, green or blue walls, purple and red lights, it sets apart each setting the character visit and makes each more unique and, thus, easier to know where each character is as well as making it nice to look at for the viewer.
The show also uses colors as symbolism. Kilgrave, for example, is represented with the color purple. we see him wear purple all the time and Jessica’s memories of of him are colored likewise.
At the same time, the show uses Jazz music quite extensively, but this doesn’t mean the show doesn’t use more modern styles from time to time. In any case, they complement the scenes quite nicely.
As i said before, this is a show that deals heavily with topics of Rape, as well as abusive relationships. The first episode heavily implies Kilgrave’s first victim upon coming back was raped by him, and episode 6 even outright states it. Jessica’s time under Kilgrave’s control have had a terrible effect on her psichy as well as heavily damaging her ability to interact with other people. In fact, when confronted with it, Kilgrave denies any notion of having raped Jessica, he denies the notion in a scene very reminiscent of an abusive boyfriend refusing to understand the concept of consent and believing, because they are dating, that he has free claim to have sex with his partner.
It is definitely not something light nor a happy topic, and the show deals with it head on. However, this doesn’t mean the show glorifies it’s use of rape for shock value. On the contrary, it deals with the topic in a way that is respectful and puts the blame where it should be. The show waits before telling you Kilgrave raped people because it believes the implications are clear enough for you to realize what happened. Furthermore, it also address a number of common justifications people often use when dealing with Kilgrave. Kilgrave, for example tries to claim it is not his fault since he doesn’t know when someone does something willingly or not, this notion, however, is stomped by Jessica and the show.
We do get reasons to sympathize with Kilgrave’s situation, but we are also shown that said situation cannot justify his actions.
Another element present in the narrative is Trauma and the struggle to try to overcome it. Jessica is an Alcoholic who has cut ties with most people in her life by the time we meet her doing her job as private investigator, we meet Kilgrave’s victims (both men and women) who form a group to discuss and overcome the trauma of doing Kilgrave’s bidding, etc.
The third major element present throughout the story is the speculative fiction factor in Kilgrave’s power. The question of how to deal with a criminal like him or how to actually prove he is guilty of any of his crimes and if it is possible to successfully imprison him when one word out of his mouth is all he needs to get any court under his finger. We have the character of Hogarth(played by Carrie-Anne Moss) who is divorcing her ex-wife and, as a lawyer, sees the potential a power such as Kilgrave’s could do, namely (namely, convince her ex-wife to firm the divorce papers with no fight for her money). Like Daredevil before this, the great dilemma is whether to kill or not Kilgrave and, as the show goes on, it is made more clear that the decision is on Jessica’s hands.
This show is not as violent as Daredevil. There is nowhere near the level of blood and brutality present in Daredevil since Jessica Jones deals with injuries of the psychological kind. However, be warned that starting episode 7, the violence becomes more explicit.
If there was any fear that the presence of Luke Cage on the show would be an extended and glorified ad for his own show (which had been confirmed long before it had been known he would appear in Jessica Jones) rest easy. While there are definitely the hints of what we could see from that particular show, he is definitely related to the events going on and his relationship with Jessica is one of the pillars of the show.
Overall, Jessica Jones is an extremely well written show that deals with a heavy topic in a way that is respectful to rape victims and that refuses to glorify it. If there were still any doubt Netflix exclusive comic book adaptions were possible, think again.
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