Marvel’s Jessica Jones is Both Catalyst and Product of the #MeToo Movement

Marvel and Netflix’s Jessica Jones became a symbol of female empowerment two years before the #MeToo movement even began. The show’s second season, which arrives on Netflix today, further embraces this theme with a story ripped from today’s ongoing sexual abuse and harassment headlines.

Jessica Jones is a superhero without a costume who struggles with anger and addiction issues — repercussions from a series of dark, personal traumas. Actor Krysten Ritter brought Jones to life through an intense and nuanced performance; she expressed a level of pain and anguish that absolutely connected with audiences.

The series debuted to immediate praise, and it resonated deeply with women across the country. It’s also a show no one expected from a studio built upon green rage-monsters, demigods with magic hammers, and billionaires with high-tech body armor. And yet, Jessica Jones epitomizes the Marvel ethos — in the spirit of Stan Lee’s originating vision — of heroes who juggle real-world problems juxtaposed against the absurdity of super-powered vigilantism.

Ritter spoke with THR about the experience of defining a character who tapped into the cultural zeitgeist at a key moment in history:

It’s pretty intense and uncanny, but also it’s cool and exciting to have a show that can express the anger that a lot of people are feeling. I love Jessica Jones because of the work I get to do and the material as an actress. But obviously, the fact that we participate in a huge social conversation? It’s amazing. It doesn’t happen every day that you’re on a show you love doing and acting in that also inspires a lot of social conversations.”

The storyline this season involves a filmmaker who abuses women — a story written months before the Harvey Weinstein revelations broke in the NY Times. Jessica Jones Season 2 filming wrapped in October last year, right as the #MeToo movement got rolling and it shocked everyone in the production. Ritter explains:

We finished shooting before the #MeToo movement, and we were all kind of like, ‘Wow.’ It’s a completely crazy coincidence. When all of that started coming out, we were all texting each other: ‘Holy shit. We’re doing this on our show!’ The #MeToo movement started in October, I believe, and we finished shooting on Oct. 1.”

The initial reviews of Jessica Jones Season 2 are solid (80% on Rotten Tomatoes), and suggests that Marvel not only understands this character, but also the complex outside world this show reflects. Here’s a typical review breakdown, from Allison Shoemaker at RogerEbert.com:

Jessica Jones, like its protagonist, can’t be called simply good or bad. It’s messier, stranger, and far more complicated than that. And that’s a good thing, flaws and all.”

Jessica Jones Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

SOURCE: RottenTomatoes, THR, Twitter, NY Times, RogerEbert