She may not have laser vision, and she can’t become invisible, but Jessica Jones is still one of the most badass yet relatable super heroes you’ve ever seen. Sure, she can toss guys three times her size across the bar and sort-of-fly, being able to leap right from the street up to her NYC fire escape — but, unlike her leotard-clad peers, Jessica Jones, head of Alias Investigations, is more like the brazen woman who will save your ass and then take you out for shots afterward.
Jessica Jones stands out from the crowd. Not only does she topple traditional super hero tropes, she also possesses actual, real-world flaws that both bring her down to Earth and make her fierce as hell. Here’s how she does it.
Even though Jessica Jones has some issues of her own to deal with, that doesn’t prevent her from helping others in need. She’s more of a street-level hero — her concerns lie with her neighborhood and people she loves. And because she doesn’t have to worry about saving the entire world from space aliens, she’s got more time to deal with the problems that matter to her on a personal level. As a private investigator, this determination and focus comes in handy: She doesn’t hold back when it comes to digging up dirt for her clients, and nothing’s going to distract her from the case at hand.
Jessica’s self-possessed in a way that’s refreshing to see for a female character. While it’s uncommon to see a woman physically (and often verbally) duke it out with her male opponents, Jessica Jones shows viewers that guys aren’t the only ones who can hold their own in a fight. In fact, she’s more than happy to. She’s the girl who will literally hold up a dude’s car to show him who’s in charge, the friend who would defend your honor if some creep made a dirty comment to you — and make you laugh while doing so. And that’s exactly why you’ll love her.
Jessica’s not loaded. She has to hustle just like you do. She doesn’t come from money, she doesn’t drive a fancy car — hell, she can barely afford to fix her front door. She’s pretty much broke, so don’t expect to find her brunching at that buzzy West Village spot or ordering bottle service at the club. But she works hard at cracking cases in order to keep a roof over her head — and, more importantly, booze at the ready. Heroes rarely cut a rent check, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see Jessica worry about what everyone else does on a daily basis: getting paid.
Let other women totter about in high heels. While skin-tight, fashion-forward outfits look amazing, they don’t line up with what most people wear every day. And that’s not Jessica Jones’ look. She sports a leather jacket, ripped jeans, motorcycle boots, and hoodies to stay under the radar and out of the news. Besides, if she ever did want your attention, she wouldn’t need a cape to get it.
Jessica isn’t really a group-project kind of girl. She certainly doesn’t need help from a theoretically smarter/stronger boyfriend; she doesn’t have a gaggle of girlfriends trailing her; and, while she may not be a leader in the traditional sense, she’s definitely not a follower, either. She’s a lone wolf with a wry sense of humor. And forget dating or flirting — this girl just says what she wants.
After emerging from a rough childhood and an abusive relationship (she’s got demons just like the rest of us), Jessica set up Alias Investigations. As the founder and sole employee of her P.I. firm, she’s a freelancer without ties that bind who tracks down the worst that Hell’s Kitchen, the infamous New York City neighborhood, has to offer. And she kicks major ass doing it.
What to do after beating the crap out of a roomful of thugs? Knock back three fingers of whiskey, neat. Like everyone, Jessica drinks for a variety of reasons: to forget the past, to calm her nerves, to dull the ache in her palms from that car she stopped with her bare hands (well, maybe not just like everyone). Will she go too far with the hard stuff? Time will tell. Still, it’s nice to see a super hero unwind after a fight the same way most of us would: with a few rounds at her local watering hole, and some one-liners that will make you laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
Everyone has made bad relationship decisions, including Jessica Jones — and that’s part of what makes her ideal best-friend material. But Jessica’s ex, Kilgrave, is a totally different kind of beast. He possesses the ability to manipulate people’s minds. And even though he had Jessica supernaturally wrapped around his finger for a spell, the true testament to her strength isn’t how hard she hits; it’s that she was able to get out from under his control. Though he lingers in her mind (and he may even be out there right now, looking for her), she’s toughened herself up mentally, so she’ll be prepared for the next time he tries to creep into her life (and her thoughts).
Special gifts, like the ability to jump 10 stories in the air, don’t come easy — and Jessica learned that the hard way. After a tragic childhood accident left her an orphan possessing certain abilities, she still managed to carve out a life for herself with her wit fully intact. Whether it was trying her hand at being a super hero, fighting her way out of a toxic relationship, or stockpiling cash to open her own detective business, Jessica does what all other strong, successful survivors do: Instead of letting her past consume her, she looks ahead to the future, further down the shadowy street.
After overcoming all the hardships that she has, it’s no surprise that committing to people doesn’t come easily for Jessica. That’s one more thing that makes this superhuman so, well, human. And even though she’s out in Hell’s Kitchen night after night, solving crimes and kicking ass, it’s easy to see why she probably won’t be spending any of those nights out on blind dates any time soon.
If you’ve ever wanted a moody partner-in-crime you could rough up a rowdy bar with, Jessica Jones is your girl. To find out more, meet her in Hell’s Kitchen by tuning into Jessica Jones on Netflix, where all episodes of season one are now streaming. It’s going to be a damn good time.
Illustrations by John Lee.