Comic book tv shows

Jessica Jones (TV) Character Analysis: Not a superhero (which isn’t a bad thing)

jessica jones tv character analysis

I have finally finished watching Jessica Jones on Netflix, and I think what impressed me the most was the character focused nature of the show. So it provides the perfect opportunity for a Jessica Jones character analysis!

Spoilers for Jessica Jones season one follow!

Before watching Jessica Jones, I didn’t know too much about her character, but after watching the first season I definitely feel like the show did a good job exploring her character.

Jessica Jones isn’t really a superhero show. It’s more of a psychological thriller/crime drama involving people with powers. It isn’t as action packed as Daredevil, and most of the time instead of fight scenes it’s scenes of people having conversations. But it is the quieter nature of the show that allows us to understand Jessica Jones as a character a lot more.

When we first meet Jessica she’s a private investigator. She spends time watching and studying people closely, but fails to have any real relationships in her life. She’s distant and isolated as she struggles to figure out what her role in this world is.

jessica jones characteristics

We know this show is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the same world as The Avengers. So think about what it means to be someone who has super powers, watching other people with powers using their powers to be the world’s mightiest heroes.

Jessica tried the hero thing, but it didn’t work. She didn’t become a famous Avenger. Instead her world was interrupted by the force that is Kilgrave.

Jessica, a person with all this power, forced to submit to the man in purple. Just as she started doing something good with her life, helping people, everything that she became was taken away from her by an unstoppable force. A force that bent her notions of truth and morality. A force that stripped Jessica of her identity and made her into a person she no longer recognises.

After she breaks free from Kilgrave, she’s still not really free. Again she is a person with this power who lacks a sense of freedom. The show does a great job at exploring the impact of PTSD. Jessica repeats phrases to herself to cling to her reality and what she knows is the truth. The last thing Jessica wants to do is be dragged back into that world of guilt.

jessica jones kilgrave character analysis

A sense of guilt that has held on to her since her family died. We saw in flashbacks that the accident happened after Jessica started a fight with her little brother. It’s not surprising that she feels a lot of survivors guilt.

This is where Hope comes in. As Kilgrave stated, Hope is Jessica’s guilt personified. If Jessica can save Hope it will help Jessica reconcile with herself and the things she’s done in the past. Whilst Hope is alive, it signifies Jessica’s ability to be a true hero, and to bring Kilgrave to justice.

For the longest time Jessica’s goal wasn’t to kill Kilgrave. She wanted to be better than that, to be a hero. But with things spiraling out of control and Hope eventually dying, that sense of moral superiority Jessica once held slowly started slipping away.

And the question of what is a hero resurfaces. Playing the nice typical hero and bringing Kilgrave in alive no longer became an option. Jessica Jones was a more cynical look at the world of heroes. Typically in the Marvel universe, things end up okay, the hero wins. This time the hero doesn’t even consider herself to be one. This time the world didn’t allow for a hero in the normal sense.

jessica jones netflix characteristics

So Jessica was forced to kill Kilgrave. She didn’t do it in a superhero costume. This isn’t Daredevil where we saw her evolve to become a classic superhero. She did it in the same type of clothes she wore from the beginning. Because this isn’t a superhero story yet. This is a story of a woman is coming into grips with who she is.

She doesn’t feel like she can suddenly take on the world. That she can stop all the bad guys and save people who need rescuing. The world may look to Jessica Jones as their saviour but she looks at that image of herself and scoffs. Jessica Jones is not ready to be a superhero. And that’s okay.

The world she was dragged into, forced to live in by Kilgrave, it takes a lot to rise up again from that darkness. When you lose every sense of who you are, it takes a lot to get that back.

Jessica’s fight with Kilgrave wasn’t clean. Many people got hurt and killed along the way. All those deaths are now mounted on Jessica. Kilgrave’s purpose had everything to do with Jessica, so of course she would feel personally responsible for all the deaths he caused. Consequences weigh heavily in Jessica Jones.

jessica jones character analysis

Now that the one who held power over Jessica is gone, the next step in Jessica’s journey is self-mastery over herself. One of the key things that make us human is our individual freedom of consciousness. When someone is “Kilgraved” they don’t have that gift. And whilst Kilgrave was still around, Jessica didn’t have that either. Now that he’s gone she can reclaim her freedom.

It’s why she can’t be a superhero just yet. It’s important for Jessica to feel like she has power in her life once again. To feel like she’s in control of her reality, no one else. Getting rid of Kilgrave was a start. Forming and maintaining real relationships was another.

Now that Jessica has a greater sense of who she is and a greater sense of freedom again, she can really start a life. Maybe that life isn’t being a superhero right now. Of course we know that eventually Jessica Jones will join up with the other Netflix heroes to become a Defender, but until then it’s still a journey for her.                       Jessica Jones character analysis

And that’s something to appreciate about this show. Many people have complained that the ending of Jessica Jones season one was a little anti-climatic. No it didn’t have a moment like in Daredevil where he got the classic red costume and beat Kingpin up. Instead it had a moment of brief relief, where after all the torture Kilgrave was dead. There’s still a lot more to do before Jessica has her Daredevil like moment, but at least now she’s in a state of mind that she can actually reach that.

Overall what’s again Marvel’s Netflix ventures have done it again, and brought to us the wonderfully complicated character that is Jessica Jones.

 

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6 replies »

  1. I generally agree with your review, but for one major point. You emphasize the fact that now that Kilgrave is dead, Jessica can finally move on, get to know herself and start a life where she’s more in control and stuff. The thing is Jessica thought he was dead for like a year (I don’t remember how long, but I think it was a year). She had a good while to do all those things and it didn’t help her much. Now she’s sure he’s dead, but still, I don’t think she’ll just move on and be free.

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    • True, it’s definitely still a journey for her, but there is a sense of relief now that he’s gone. He’s always had a strong hold on her, now she’s able to finally break free from that, but it’s still going to be hard to move on

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  2. It’s not just that Jessica is a complex character. The show’s themes in general are complex in a way that no 2 hour movie can accomplish. It really deals with trauma and how different people cope with it.

    I haven’t watched the full show yet so I didn’t read your full post. I’m 10 episodes in and for the most part it gets better with each episode.

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    • Yeah exactly, and it’s definitely themes that have not really been that well addressed in the films. I feel like the last couple of episodes dip in quality a bit, but overall a strong season

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