Rape, alcoholism, drug addiction, police brutality, PTSD, child abuse, death, the list goes on. Marvel’s Jessica Jones speaks up about many of society’s current controversial issues. Every character has multiple facets of their personality. Everyone is fighting their own battle and is messed up in their own way. The show does not harp on any one of these important issues, but rather places emphasis on recovery. Whether you like the characters or not is unimportant because no matter how irritating or irrelevant to the plot they may be, it’s hard to see them struggle. Jessica and Kilgrave both had traumatic upbringings- one uses the experience as a force for good, the other as an excuse.
Jessica’s unattached veneer is contrasted by her inability to walk away. She does not care to rehash the past, but will stop at nothing to make a safer future. Although marred by self-loathing and rage, her strength in facing her oppressor gives victims of abuse a vigorous role model. Yet, Jessica never gives Kilgrave the satisfaction of leaving her as nothing but a victim. “You think you’re the only ones who’ve lost someone? You think you’re the only ones with pain? You think you can take your [crap] and dump it on me? You don’t get to do that! So you take your god damned pain and you live with it..!” She never complains because she knows there is always someone out there who has it worse. Jessica orders us to never let our past prevent us from taking control of our future. Jessica Jones is no ones hero- she forces us to become our own hero.
In stark contrast Kilgrave takes his rage out on the world, one nauseating outburst at a time. He abuses his power of mind control in comically horrifying ways. David Tennant (the actor who plays the role of Kilgrave) commented on these powers, “What I’d worry about most is what it would do to your moral compass, that’s what would concern me. I think it would be very difficult to find anyone with the moral fibre required not to abuse that power.” Kilgrave’s dominating influence is orchestrated with a humorous flippancy that will chill your bones. His abilities have stripped away his humanity, leaving him to rove about the earth in pursuit of nothing, but his own fancy (aka Jessica Jones). Side note: I would love to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Kilgrave and Charles Xavier. A life of meaningless instant gratification could bring out the worst in anyone. Kilgrave stands as a reminder to the viewer that evil lurks within us all.
“They say everyone’s born a hero but, if you let it, life will push you over the line until you’re a villain. Problem is, you don’t always know that you’ve crossed that line. Maybe it’s enough that the world thinks I’m a hero.” Jessica Jones beckons us to either let our rage consume us or force it into our submission. Regardless of our past, we have the choice to be our own hero or villain.