WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2, streaming now on Netflix.
One of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, Spider-Man has appeared in films and on television, in video games, on toy shelves and even in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In fact, the wall-crawler is so popular that his presence can even be felt in the second season of Jessica Jones.
Thankfully, however, it’s not as one of those jarring references to the larger cinematic universe that’s become a signature of Marvel’s Netflix dramas (“the Incident,” “the big green dude,” “the flag-waver,” etc.), but instead something far more subtle.
While searching the apartment of The Whizzer, a paranoid speedster who, it turns out, had good reason to believe people were out to get him, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) uncovers one of his video messages to Trish Walker. Yes, it turns out that, between attempts on his life, The Whizzer was a faithful listener of Trish Talk, even if he didn’t necessarily agree with support of people with superhuman abilities.
In the video he relates his own origin story: He got drunk on his 18th birthday, dived off the roof and missed the pool, and awoke in the hospital with wondrous powers. “I was fast before, but now I’m so fast I think it’ll kill me,” he says in Episode 2. “And it hurts … and the dreams. I wake up screaming. And you’re always saying how powers are good, but you were wrong. With great power comes great mental illness.”
That last sentence is of course a play on “With great power comes great responsibility,” inextricably tied to Spider-Man and, specifically, his uncle Ben Parker. The phrase, as it originally appeared in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, was “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!”
However, Jessica Jones isn’t finished with Peter Parker just yet. Later in the same episode, “AKA Freak Accident,” Jessica goes to Trish’s apartment, only to find her boyfriend, famed journalist Griffin (Hal Ozsan), who’s concerned a missing Trish may have gotten in over her head in her parallel investigation into Jessica’s past.
Asked why he might think that, Griffin replies, “My balls are tingling.” Jessica deadpans, “There’s medication for that,” leading him to insist that in his line of work, you learn to trust your instincts. Although Jessica isn’t so certain herself, she urges Griffin to go home, because Trish might be there. “Don’t manage me,” he fires back. “I know she’s in trouble.”
That, naturally, sets up the second Spider-Man reference of the episode, as Jessica responds, “Because of your Scroty-Sense?”
Jessica returns to the Spider-theme one last time in the season finale, “AKA Playland,” when her super-powered mother (Janet McTeer) advises her that people like them can’t simply “limp through life.” Unmoved by her speech, Jessica replies, “If you say, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ I swear I’ll throw up on you.”
Streaming now on Netflix, Jessica Jones Season 2 stars Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, J.R. Ramirez and Janet McTeer.
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