The Marvel Netflix Universe is continuing to heat up. “Iron First” debuted just over a month ago, “The Defenders” is currently gearing up for its debut on August 18th, and “The Punisher” is inbound. Rumors and reports are constantly circulating regarding future seasons of these shows and why we should be excited for them. In particular, the “Jessica Jones” team announced that production on Season 2 began filming in April 2017.
Now that each of Marvel’s standalone Netflix series has debuted, it is fair for fans to equally judge the four and deem which is “the best.” Usually, when discussing Marvel’s efforts on Netflix, “Daredevil” is the first response out of fans’ mouths. However, when truly examining Marvel’s Netflix shows, “Jessica Jones” has far more merit as a show. This may be seen as a controversial opinion, but we’ve got 15 great reasons why “Jessica Jones” is better than “Daredevil!”
Spoiler Alert for “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil!”
15. NO COSTUMES
The costume design in “Daredevil” is impeccable. There is no debate about it. The show attempted something new, in presenting a superhero with a homemade costume that evolved over the series into something more professional. However, in telling a truly realistic and grounded superhero story, “Jessica Jones” is more successful in the costume department… by not having one!
In wearing layman’s clothing — as she does in her inaugural comics series “Alias” by Michael Gaydos and Brian Michael Bendis — Jessica feels more like a character you could meet on the street. She isn’t a costumed crusader on a larger than life quest, she is simply a person who gives off a strong Hell’s Kitchen vibe. A big credit is in order to costume designers Stephanie Maslansky and Jenn Rogien. The former worked on “Daredevil” and the latter on “Girls” and “Orange is the New Black.” By combining this dream team of Marvel knowledge and female style, “Jessica Jones” is a triumph in the costume department (or lack thereof).
14. BROADER AUDIENCE APPEAL
In 2017, the female audience is still not greatly represented in superhero media. This year marks one of the first times that a female hero is making her debut on the big screen. However, “Jessica Jones” was a trailblazer in the female superhero department years ago. Before “Supergirl” and even the rise of other feminine supporting players on “Arrow,” Jessica represented a strong heroine for Netflix, for Marvel, and for superhero entertainment in general.
Additionally, “Jessica Jones” also served as more of a psychological story than the majority of superhero movies and shows. It was one continuous story with underlying layers and a noir tone. This appealed to those who prefer the thinking woman’s superhero story. Rather than a brainless “Suicide Squad”-esque action flick, this was much more of a “Dark Knight” or “X-Men: Days of Future Past” brand. By optimizing a strong female character and using a smart and layered story, “Jessica Jones” proved itself as a phenomenal and mature tale with broader audience appeal.
13. VISUAL EFFECTS
Once again, “Daredevil” does have visual effects worthy of applause. The hallway fight sequence was truly impressive. However, the darker color palette and use of crisp shots in “Jessica Jones” is even more astounding. “Jones” uses these grimy and unsettling visuals, in addition to crisp editing, to paint a depressingly effective picture of a show. VFX Supervisor Bryan Godwin is worthy of much appreciation. His work on films like “Chronicle” and shows like “True Detective,” “American Horror Story,” gave the professionalism and darkness that made “Jessica Jones” as effective as it was.
The opening credits sequence alone is evidence of this astounding visual team. Nominated for a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy, the opening credits of the show donned purple and black in an attempt to convey the character emotions felt on screen. This Hitchcockian sequence was mysterious and the blurry style was representative of the blurred moral line many characters encountered over the course of the season. This opening sequence, though, is just one example of how visually impressive and subtly effective the visuals of this show are.
Whereas “Daredevil’s” writing style is firm, straightforward and business-like, “Jessica Jones” has more snap. Though humor is rarely present in both shows, “Jessica Jones” makes use of comedic characters like Luke Cage and Malcolm in limited roles. Not to mention, Jessica’s sassy one-liners to those who aggravate her are more memorable that those uttered by Matt Murdock, as is the nature of each character, it could be argued.
Still, by combining writers from “Dexter,” “Orange is the News Black” and “House,” the show nails its depressing tone. In each of the previously mentioned shows, the writers have also been able to nail the voice of each individual character. This once again appears in Jessica Jones. Each of the main and supporting players has a voice that is unique and distinctly his or her own. By writing these strong characters and creating a tone that is superbly effective for the show, the writers of “Jessica Jones” create a more nuanced and original flavor in their show than the creative team behind “Daredevil” did.
11. LEGIT CAST
Even if you didn’t know it when initially watching, “Jessica Jones” is filled with stars. In looking at the cast lineup for “Daredevil,” there are few actors of such caliber. Vincent D’Onofrio is certainly a credible actor with many impressive titles under his belt. However, Jon Bernthal is the next most famous face and usually just for his supporting roles on “The Walking Dead” or doing small bits in films.
On the other hand, “Jessica Jones” is riddled with talent. Starting from its titular heroine, Krysten Ritter was the breakout star of the second season of “Breaking Bad.” She had all the evil required of a love interest for Jesse, yet she still made us believe in love for the two. Fans were shocked and appalled when Jane died and couldn’t wait to see more from Ritter. Additionally, Carrie-Anne Moss has proven herself as an acting treasure, particularly within the geek space. Whether it be Trinity in “The Matrix,” her scene-stealing role in “Memento,” she is phenomenal around the board. Even in its villain, David Tennant is claimed to be the best Doctor by many Doctor Who fans. This impressive lineup in just three names far surpasses the entire team of actors working on “Daredevil.”
10. GOOD SUPPORT
Once again, “Daredevil” does decently in the supporting cast category. Foggy is a fun guy and Karen Page is neat. They certainly have name value and are close to Matt. But in reality, the supporting players in “Jessica Jones” are truly more than characters, and are more memorable as people. Trish Walker is Jessica’s adopted sister who is emotional, raw and real. Luke Cage is a great love interest who has merits beyond just his well-toned body. Even Malcolm was a good callback character who made for a memorable neighbor.
Even beyond these above-average traits, each character furthers along the story more so than in “Daredevil.” Whereas Foggy and Karen are rarely important to the overall story, Trish is the center of Jessica’s emotional development in Season 1. Not to mention, the cop Will Simpson, who we all thought was going to be a one-off, turned out to be vitally important to Kilgrave’s plot. Every single character is central to the story and none are included as filler. Contrasting with “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” is far more character-centric and builds better, more well-rounded people in its world.
9. TRUE GRIT
“Daredevil” certainly had a strong “Batman Begins” vibe to it. The more realistic and edgy tone, mixed with some brutal action, was present throughout the show’s run. This was something unseen before in the Marvel universe and was applauded by fans. However, the same fans seem to not give “Jessica Jones” enough credit for taking this R-rated grit to the next level.
“Daredevil” showed some blood in fights, for sure. However, “Jessica Jones” took that blood and made it more brutal. During a fully unsettling interrogation and torture scene towards the end of Season 1, many viewers were left disturbed, even traumatized. Beyond just action and violence, Jessica as a character is more crass and free-spoken than Matt Murdock. Plus, the first few episodes of the show are fairly sexual in tone and are not afraid to show it. This ramping up of the R-rated attitude by “Jessica Jones” shows that it can take what fans liked about “Daredevil” and build upon it. In doing so, the show handily surpasses its predecessor in terms of its tone. Speaking of which…
8. NOIR TONE
“Daredevil,” as mentioned in the previous point, followed the formula for much of today’s superhero content: be action-packed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, as it succeeded for the show. However, it was nothing new. The action scenes were good, but the show never felt like it stood for anything beyond action and justice. It was reminiscent of “Batman Begins,” “Arrow” and even “The Amazing Spider-Man” at times — good company to be in, but also proving it’s far from unique.
“Jessica Jones,” on the other hand, had an entirely different tone; one that spoke volumes. Comic book movies that do something different are often the ones that are remembered. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is held in such high esteem because it is more of a political thriller than a superhero movie. Similarly, “Jessica Jones” is more of a psychological noir than a superhero movie. It features overarching narration, a central mystery, flawed characters, things going bump in the night. The dark overtone and ability for the writing to get in your head separates “Jessica Jones” from anything ever seen before, sadly unlike “Daredevil.”
7. COMPELLING BACKSTORIES
“Jessica Jones” begins very much en medias res. Often used in describing Greek epics, this phrase refers to “in the middle of things.” Jessica has seemingly encountered some badness in her past and she is trying to put together a stable life in the present. This creates a sense of intrigue for the viewers watching. Questions arise such as: What happened to make Jessica like this? Why did she give up a superhero career? What was her childhood like? Will things ever get back to normal?
All of these questions only come to us from the backstory of Jessica, though. Every character in the show is compelling and has a questionable past. By eventually spelling out Kilgrave’s backstory, we understand more about him as a person and why he is the way he is. The same can be said of Trish Walker’s more emotional and human personality. Matt Murdock certainly has an interesting childhood; however, his blinding accident and interactions with his boxing father are simply not as mysterious or intriguing as the characters seen in “Jessica Jones.”
6. NO FILLER
Even the most hardcore of “Daredevil” fans needs to admit that the show can get a little slow at times. Thirteen episodes may have been a few too many for Season 1, especially. If shortened to eight of even 10, the overarching story would have felt more relevant and perhaps cut off any fat that was boring to viewers. Though these are just hypotheticals, they are not concerns associated with “Jessica Jones.”
“Jessica Jones” is 100% dedicated to telling an overarching story throughout its entire run. Though the first scene of the show is not setup for the very last scene of the show, threads run throughout the entire season. No filler is present in the noir. The first episode presents setup that feeds into each following episode. Any moments that fans could possibly interpret as filler are at least character development moments! No second is wasted in “Jessica Jones.” It all builds to a satisfying conclusion that was enjoyable through and through, never dragging for a moment.
5. NO ORIGINS
At this point in the game, studios have realized that audiences are sick of origin stories. Look no further than “Batman v. Superman” containing a grizzled and older Bruce Wayne, or “Captain America: Civil War” wasting no time describing what a Spider-Man is. The same can be said for “Jessica Jones.” Though few were heavily immersed in the “Jessica Jones” comics, the show was able to present a heroine who needed no introduction. Rather, the careful use of clever writing and show-don’t-tell philosophy establish Jessica’s character and powers without blatantly explaining how she got them.
This point is in direct contrast to the Matt Murdock storyline in Season 1 of “Daredevil.” Though everyone loves a good training montage, seeing Murdock’s training in the first season was a familiar rehash of things many audiences had seen before. Though it was well-executed, it was still a bit of a drag to those who knew the mythology and any fan expecting a new turn for superhero beginnings. “Jessica Jones” had no such dead weight.
4. WELL-ROUNDED LEAD
In additional to phenomenal supporting actors who all play an essential part in the show, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones is pitch perfect casting. Ritter nails the tortured emotional side of the character in ways few other actors could. Ritter’s previous experience on “Breaking Bad,” “Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23,” and “Gilmore Girls” show her versatility and all prepared her for this deep and layered role.
In addition to the well-roundedness of Ritter, Jessica Jones as a character is also a fantastically well realized woman in the MCU. She stands up for what she believes in, drinks as much as she likes (even to excess), and is someone constantly battling with demons. This tragic hero complex is something often avoided in the MCU in favor of making the hero a likeable and funny character to mass audiences. Even in comparison to “Daredevil’s” Matt Murdock, she is the opposite of someone who fights for justice and truth, but rather what’s best for her. Painting Jessica as someone with demons and problems is a big step forward for Marvel.
3. BETTER VILLAIN
Marvel typically fails when it comes to villains. Ronan? Malekith, anyone? These names all fade into obscurity the second that the post-credits scene hooks viewers. Marvel’s Netflix shows are a little different, though. Take Kilgrave. The man is demented. Being able to control anyone with just his voice yields unlimited power. His nefarious schemes and well-plotted tricks all support the genius that he is while his “charisma” makes him even more dangerous.
“Daredevil” could make a solid argument against this point, of course. While Wilson Fisk was played superbly by Vincent D’Onofrio, was not as calculating or cold as Kilgrave though. He murdered and planned, but he was not as personal in his attacks. Kilgrave got to the core of what Jessica stood for. Even in “Daredevil” Season 2, The Punisher was no more than a mercenary for hire. Even he was more of an antihero than a villain. Kilgrave triumphs over both of these “Daredevil” villains and is truly memorable as one of Marvel’s best villains in any medium.
2. BETTER DEFENDERS SETUP
The most important part of any shared universe is making standalone stories that don’t feel like mere setups for future installments. Jessica Jones both illustrates this and sets up for “The Defenders” at the same time. By using Luke Cage as one of the series’ main players, audiences began falling in love with the character and wanting to see more from him. This easy tie-in felt natural for the character of Jessica Jones, yet also set up the “Luke Cage” series with grace and poise.
Additionally, the inclusion of Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple in the finale built a bridge between “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones.” “Daredevil” Seasons 1 and 2 had exceedingly few references to the larger universe at play. Though Jon Bernthal’s Punisher was included in Season 2, the character is not even set to appear in “The Defenders.” Besides a few small references here and there to the MCU movies, “Daredevil” is barren of any greater universe references, whereas Jessica Jones does it clearly and seamlessly.
1. TEMATIC FANTASTIC
“Daredevil” is a very enjoyable show. The action is very good, the direction is often spot-on, and the villains are well-executed. However, as previously mentioned, it is very surface level. There is nothing wrong with making a good show, as it is still entertaining to millions of fans worldwide, but “Jessica Jones” makes a good show while also spelling out an important real world theme.
Jessica Jones deals with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in the aftermath of being forced to stay with and serve Kilgrave for a year. This shows Jessica as more than your average type of hero. Certainly she has superhuman abilities, but her main power is being able to live and deal with these social challenges. However, knowing that Kilgrave caused her all this anguish, Jessica decides to confront him and solve her problems. By going after her attacker and seeking her own kind of justice, Jessica proves that she is someone to admire and her show is something at which to, pardon the incoming pun, marvel. Instead of standing by, Jessica takes action and deals with her past, proving that it isn’t where we come from, but where we go from here.
“The Defenders” hits Netflix on August 18th, 2017.
Be sure to comment below about which Marvel Netflix show is your favorite!
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