Before everyone goes full “angry white men on Twitter” on me hear me out. This is not some Marvel-bashing post. I love Captain Marvel for her strength, power, and positive female herodom. She is a super hero for a new era. One that doesn’t meekly stand in the corner while male counterparts get dirty and beat some bad guy butt. This is a new day where women can be anything they want. CEO’s, WWE stars, doctors, lawyers, directors, and Moms without having to explain yourself. Or at least that is what we are striving for. We aren’t quite there yet, but dammit we are trying and the enlightened men of the world who just want the right person for the job, male or female, and everyone to be happy are championing our cause right along with us. Captain Marvel is what the world wants to be, Jessica Jones is what the world is. It is a hot mess of roiling tension, ugliness and trauma. Against all odds, saviors emerge, sometimes reluctantly and slowly, but always eventually.
The chasm between Carol Danvers and Ms. Jones is large enough to keep everyone’s favorite functioning alcoholic in moonshine for life. Fans of the hard-drinking show can contest that is a giant killing amount. Jess has endured terrible things and come out the other side. She is beaten and broken, at times mentally unhinged, masking a massive amount of PTSD behind sex and booze, and through it all doing mostly the right thing. Partly of out misguided guilt, partly out of rage, but mostly out of a strong moral compass only somewhat attributable to Trish. She is a real hero. With super strength given to her against her will during government experiments she is far from indestructible. What she is, is indomitable. She will not lay down, can’t quit, and won’t apologize. Jones is a real woman. For that we love her.
On the other hand, Captain Marvel has it pretty cushy. She seems to have had a fairly uneventful childhood. She became a pilot and by all accounts a successful person. Yes, she had to endure an annoying amount of “you can’t do that-itis”, but she certainly hasn’t had to deal with mind and body rape. Through a series of memory montages set to kick ass ’90s music her journey to savior status is witnessed. It is all designed to rev up the female gender. Marvel is the Rocky and Creed for women. It is a feel good movie that is created to instill positivity. That is not to say there is anything wrong with that. We all need a little lighthearted pep talk of a movie. It’s a good message. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished with enough faith and perseverance.
Danvers has some some scary moments when she is captured, but nothing like Jones’ nemesis, Killgrave’s arch, or having your Frankenstein of a Mother who isn’t dead after all, kill a bunch of people, and then get killed by your adoptive sister who was the one person in the whole world you thought you could trust. That’s some dark shit. It is black hole dark. A sucking void of pain and betrayal that most people could never climb out of. Captain Marvel triumphed with a lot of help. There is no shame in that. A smart person makes the most of their opportunities. Jessica hasn’t had those kind of options and is still fighting anyway.
There in lies the beauty of Jessica. She screws up royally……a lot. Just like us regular folk, she trusts the wrong people, doesn’t trust the right ones, deals with her trauma in all the wrong ways, and places blame incorrectly. It is that realism that allows us to bond and not just put her on a pedestal. She is a normal woman, only stronger. A true hero defies odds, fights against their oppressors and runs head long into danger because it is the right thing to do despite not wanting to. Carol Danvers and Jessica both do that, the difference is Jessica does it with a severely damaged playbook and 1000 pounds of baggage. In season three, the final season Jess has to go up against a normal human serial killer, Sallinger. In the previous seasons she gone toe to toe with Killgrave a suped up Big Bad for the ages. David Tennant’s performance solidified Netflix’s third addition into the comic world a water cooler success. Even those that didn’t watch hero shows like this knew about the man who could gleefully whisper into anyone’s ear and influence them to do anything he wanted. In season three she has to defeat a normal without breaking any moral codes. Season 3 is more a police procedural and moral discussion than a super hero show. That plays very nicely with Jess and Trish’s character arches and allows for deeper growth if only we would have a chance to see it. With Netflix discontinuing the Defenders-verse and Disney taking back the rights we will never know what the future would hold for our flawed crusaders.
I’m not suggesting we all become raging alcoholics. Don’t go having sex with anyone who strikes your fancy. Not because there is anything wrong with embracing your sexuality, but because you need to be safe. Isolation is not healthy for you. Connections are imperative in life and in the course of saving the world. The message of Jessica Jones is, life is rough. You will get knocked down, and that matters far less than how you get back up. For all those odd balls, freaks, cranky curmudgeons, social misfits, mentally challenged, and mischief makers, Jess is your hero. It is simple, it’s okay to not be perfect, to screw up. Just keep trying. That is a credo we can all get behind.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.