Jessica Jones – A mixing pot of neo-noir mystery and female empowerment

Kirsten Ritter as Jessica Jones Image Credit: Netflix

Arguably the best of Netflix Marvel’s TV returns for a second season- providing a perfect cultural avatar that reflects the outrage and unity of the Post #MeToo world.

The second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was released last week to coincide with National Woman’s day. This happened for a very important reason. IT is a show created for and about woman.

Each of the 13 episodes in the second season was directed by woman and, while Marvel do often have strong female characters in their films and tv shows. This is their first creation with a female lead.

It is no secret that the world of comic books and their mainstream superhero’s has been a male dominated market. All the recent Marvel success’ – Avengers Assemble, Spiderman: Homecoming, Captain America, Thor – all feature men as the main hero, idols of super strength and unatural power.

Scarlett Johansson as Marvel’s Natalia Romanoff ( The Black Widow) Image Credit: Marvel Studios

However the woman in the Marvel universe usually fall within one of two categories.There is the ‘love interest’, or to put it more accurately, the damsel in distress. The classic narrative trope of man saves woman, who seems to get into trouble at every turn. Then there is the ‘flawless’ heroine. With their flawless fight sequences where their hair and make-up are always precise, clad in skin-tight spandex, and always equipped with a sarcastic line or funny quip as a comeback.

It was then that Jessica Jones broke the mold. Jones lives by herself, runs her own private investigator business, and is the very definition of anti-social. A woman dealing with the horrors of her past and is angry being labeled and told what to do by others. Oh and just so happens to have super strength as the result of being experimented on.

Jones is angry at the world. She and those closest to her where victim to many horrendous crimes and injustices. Repeatedly and often brutally committed by mostly men. Jones has been orphaned, raped, exploited, and generally abused by those in positrons of power. Both human and Superhuman in nature.

And it’s the ways she copes, or doesn’t, with her anger, superhuman alcoholism and tendency to rely on her fist to solve her problems that made her an icon. An embodiment of all the emotions in this post #MeToo age.

Kirsten Ritter, the actor who plays Jones, has had many people come up to her with praise for the character.

Real women on the street came up to me in tears because this was the first time they felt represented by the lead; it made them feel so much better about their own traumas,” Ritter says. “Even hearing women saying they were excited to see a badass female character was great: people responded to her in such a huge way.”

The series broaches some serious issues, such as abortion, rape, domestic abuse, and addiction. But it does so with a deft hand. Offering a new perspective on trauma, that even those with power can be rendered defenseless. That these issues can be subject to anyone. It re-writes the victim narrative so that the viewer can begin to understand a fraction of how abuse can affect someone.

Overall the show offers a message of hope and inspiration. Showing the difficulties that survivors face, that opening up can help even though its hard and that most of all , Jones wasn’t to blame. This is all the while fighting her demons, both metaphorically and literal.

Watch the season 2 trailer here:

Is an Avengers Premiere on the cards for Edinburgh?

Disney are being urged to hold a World Premiere for the new Avengers film in Edinburgh after key scenes in the film were shot in the city.

Edinburgh’s film office, Film Edinburgh, hope that there will be a premiere similar to that of T2 Trainspotting, which hit screens a year ago this month. They think a premiere would be ‘the perfect way to mark the city’s contribution.’

Scenes from Avengers: Infinity War were filmed at multiple locations in the Capital over the course of a few weeks, attracting attention from locals as restaurants and parts of Waverley Station were turned into sets for the blockbuster franchise.

How do you make The Punisher work in 2017?

The Punisher is a complicated character. Not necessarily in design or conception, but in context.

It’s hard to argue that what he does is right. He’s a zealous killer, executing criminals without jury or trial. In many ways Marvel’s iconic vigilante is like 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd, only stripped of parody and self-awareness.

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If you squint at him just right though, it’s generally been possible to enjoy the hyperviolence he doles out with the same sense of irony that’s baked into Dredd by design.

He’s a difficult character to make work in 2017 and Marvel knows it. With its other Netflix experiments trying ever so hard to be sympathetic despite their often-questionable morals, how do you do the same for murderous Frank Castle?

When this version of the character first appeared in Daredevil, they smartly did so by framing the former marine as someone who never came back from the war, not really. Castle brought war back with him, and the trauma of losing his family was the trigger that set him off.

With admirable success, they made you feel for the guy by lasering in on how broken he was. That worked when revenge was supposed to fix him, but for Frank Castle to remain The Punisher, he can’t be fixed. He has to be a dog of war, biting back at the people who kicked him, or else he’s just an irredeemable killer.

So, who do you let him loose on? Marvel’s answer is the institution that made him a killer to begin with: the US military.

Villains in the new series aren’t drug dealers and mobsters, but generals and CIA agents, the very people that weaponised him.

The big bad himself for the season is even named Agent Orange, after the horrendous chemical agent callously used by the American military during the Vietnam War.

The Punisher doesn’t quite have the courage to take aim at the military-industrial complex directly.

Always careful to avoid making too strong a statement, the bad guys are invariably rogue elements, corrupt outliers, and unfortunate exceptions. It’s a shame to see it toeing the line so carefully, rather than having the conviction to make the relatively innocuous statement that exporting war is bad, period.

While it’s admirably pro-veteran, forever driving home how former soldiers are discarded and forgotten by the people that turned them into weapons, it stops short of really condemning the conflicts they fight in.

Iraq and Afghanistan come up constantly, but for a show so concerned with them it seems oddly hesitant to show much sympathy for their inhabitants.

Any atrocities Castle and his fellow marines were ordered to commit, they were ordered to commit by bad superior officers, awkwardly shifting blame from the larger systems to rogue operators within them.

As morally problematic as Joe Bernthal’s iteration of the character is, it’s a far smarter take on Castle than it has any right to be, and the stylish ultraviolence is undeniably fun.

There’s a lot of John Wick in the action scenes and if you turn your brain off it’s easy to get sucked in. It’s a show that gets a lot right even if it gets so much else wrong. It works, but a little more bravery might have made it work better.

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