'Marvel's Jessica Jones' Is About An Ex-Superhero Turned Private Investigator

Dec 1, 2015
Originally published on January 3, 2016 9:25 pm
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Maybe this is progress, a new Netflix series on a woman with superpowers. "Marvel's Jessica Jones" features a lead character with supernatural abilities, like, say, "The Hulk," or maybe "The Avengers." But unlike her predecessors, Jessica Jones has a very different past. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans has this review.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: "Jessica Jones" begins as a modern, noir-ish tale of a private eye with a taste for drink and a decidedly caustic view on life.

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KRYSTEN RITTER: (As Jessica Jones) New York may be the city that never sleeps. But it sure does sleep around.

DEGGANS: Jones, played by ex-"Breaking Bad" costar Krysten Ritter, is a private eye who mostly earns a living taking photos of cheating spouses.

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RITTER: (As Jessica Jones) A big part of the job is looking for the worst in people. Turns out, I excel at that.

DEGGANS: What she also excels at is jumping three stories into the air and lifting small cars. That's because Jones is an ex-superhero with superhuman strength. That talent comes in handy when she has to deliver a subpoena to a man trying anything to get away.

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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I'll tell the world about you. There'll be nowhere to hide.

RITTER: (As Jessica Jones) Do I look like I'm hiding? No. You want to know why? Because no one wants to know. They want to feel safe. They'd rather call you crazy than admit that I can lift this car or that I can melt your insides with my laser eyes.

DEGGANS: She's kidding. Laser eyes aren't one of her powers. But what is clear about Jones is that she's a pretty damaged person intent on drinking herself to sleep most nights. She's struggling with PTSD because she was kidnapped and forced to serve an evil man, a super-villain named Kilgrave, who can make anyone do anything he says. Kilgrave is oily and menacing. He's played by former "Doctor Who" star David Tennant. Here, Kilgrave first meets Jones after she stops a mugging. And he sizes her up like a new toy he just found.

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DAVID TENNANT: (As Kilgrave) You're a vision, the hair, the skin. An appalling sense of fashion, but that can be remedied... Underneath it, all the power.

DEGGANS: This is the kind of storytelling I've always hoped to see, as superhero movies and TV shows finally begin to feature female stars. Kilgrave is a superhuman abuser and rapist. And Jones pulls together an uneasy alliance of women to stop him. Their teamwork feels like an expression of female empowerment I've rarely seen in a superhero-themed TV show. It's a compelling, gritty story of a woman finding the strength to confront her abuser but told on the grand scale of a modern superhero epic. I'm Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.