Jessica Jones Is Marvel’s Greatest Show, Why They’ll Never Top It

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Right now, Marvel fans are gearing up for the return of Matt Murdock in Daredevil: Born Again. The original flagship Daredevil show helped usher in the darker, more mature era of Marvel shows on Netflix, and there are strong rumors that the new Daredevil show will bring back fan-favorite character Jessica Jones. This rumor has been generating major buzz for a simple and undeniable reason: Jessica Jones was Marvel’s greatest show, and it doesn’t look like the MCU will ever be able to top it.

The Best Character Relationships

Just as any team is only as strong as its weakest members, any Marvel show is only as strong as its supporting cast and character relationships. Daredevil raised a high bar by showing us how the intimate relationship between our superhero, and his friends Foggy Nelson and Karen Page gave the title character something to fight for. However, Jessica Jones cleared that bar by showcasing its title character’s relationships with Luke Cage and Trish Walker, and all these years later, Marvel has yet to give us a better television ensemble.It helps that Jessica Jones actor Krysten Ritter has amazing chemistry with Luke Cage actor Mike Colter. You can practically feel the air crackle between them during every exchange of dialogue. The show doesn’t shy away from showing how this chemistry leads our two characters into the bedroom. With a visual punchline involving a breaking bed frame, we even got to see the dangers of superhero coupling…something the characters have a nice, adult sense of humor about.

Trish Walker

Meanwhile, Jessica Jones’ relationship with Trish Walker only grows more compelling over time. Trish is a successful nepo baby who seems to have life easy, but she shows a growing fascination with the violent escapades of her friend (it probably doesn’t help that Trish just keeps finding herself in the middle of dangerous drama with her friend) that threatens to unravel her life.

In fact, Trish’s failed attempt to become a superhero herself results in Jessica sending her friend to The Raft super-prison; it’s a bold narrative move, and it was refreshing to get a character arc that surprised us (something that frankly never happens with MCU shows on Disney+).

Grounded Humor

Krysten Ritter

On paper, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a very funny place. In reality, that humor is paper-thin and often grating. Tony Stark’s endless quips are the single worst part of the first Avengers movie. And while Spider-Man’s later quips are much better, your spider-sense can probably detect the inevitable script doctor Marvel hired to add a few more laugh lines to the CGI slugfest wrapping up the third act. By contrast, Jessica Jones as a character has a grounded sense of humor that isn’t afraid to poke fun at all the absurdities of the MCU that we take for granted.Like many watching at home, Jessica Jones frequently uses sarcastic and downright caustic humor in order to deal with her existential pain. Of course, her humor is that much darker than the audience’s because of the life-and-death situations she faces on a regular basis.

All of this comes together when she fights foes who don’t realize how strong she is. Can you think of any other Marvel heroes who could ever pull off a great line like “You shoot at me, I’ll pull the bullet out of my ruined jacket and shove it up your a** with my pinky finger, and who do you think that’s gonna hurt more?

A Realistic Look At Super Trauma

krysten ritter jessica jones

When you think about it, there is a paradox at the heart of most Marvel Cinematic Universe characters. Most of the characters’ origins are rooted in trauma, but we rarely see that addressed onscreen. Captain America’s shock at being thrust into his future quickly becomes a punchline, Spider-Man never really mourns Uncle Ben, and so on.

In fact, outside of the criminally underrated Iron Man 3 (which showed Tony Stark’s extreme PTSD after he nearly died defending Earth), the Marvel movies are too busy cramming in extra quips to showcase heroes processing the crazy things they have experienced.

By contrast, trauma may as well be one of the main characters of Jessica Jones. It’s not that it’s exactly fun to see onscreen: in fact, it’s downright difficult to watch some of what Jones must endure without shedding a few tears. But that makes her ability to overcome that trauma and save the day that much more heroic, and it gives the character the kind of powerful arc that most of the MCU will simply never experience because Kevin Feige has forgotten that we’re here to watch characters overcome adversity rather than avoid it altogether.

The Greatest Villain

It’s impossible to talk about what made Jessica Jones so great without talking about its central villain, Kilgrave. David Tennant performs against type in the scariest possible way, delivering a character that is just as violent and demented as his Doctor Who character is peaceful and brilliant.

The result, ironically, is that this character might as well be using his powers to mind control the audience…after all, we just can’t look away when he’s on screen

And if this Jessica Jones villain was impressive when the show first premiered, he has only grown more impressive in time as Marvel’s ability to deliver a great bad guy has gone downhill. Kang has become a soon-to-be-dropped nightmare thanks to Jonathan Majors’ legal drama, the Skrulls have become faceless jerks, and comic icon MODOK was turned into a bad CGI punchline.

The blunt truth is that if Disney really wants to make the Marvel brand strong again, it must either bring back Kilgrave himself or bring in villains who are just as good at making our skin crawl.

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