Tag: netflix (Page 4 of 7)

MARVEL'S JESSICA JONES

Why I Like ‘Jessica Jones’ Better than ‘Daredevil’

I can already feel the indignant ire headed my way after posting that title. However, the truth is that Marvel’s Jessica Jones has me hooked, and watching Marvel’s Daredevil is like eating vegetables or doing homework: It’s good, and good for you, but not very fun.

The premise of Marvel’s Daredevil is that Matt Murdock, who goes blind as a child, transforms himself into an ultra-tough warrior. He assigns himself the task of protecting those who can’t protect themselves in his ‘hood, Hell’s Kitchen. Not only does he hand out beatings with effectiveness and efficiency, he also takes severe beatings like a leather punching bag, bouncing back — albeit slowly — for more.

The premise of Marvel’s Jessica Jones — who is also a Defender, like Murdock, in the Marvel ‘verse — is that she’s a private investigator with super-human strength and a horrific past. She, too, is trying to look out for the innocent, especially the ones targeted by Kilgrave, a mind-controlling villain. In her past, Kilgrave made Jones do unspeakable things, and she lives in constant fear that he’ll return for more.

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Both of these dramas are well-crafted. They both boast casts brimming with top-notch talent. They both have a realistic, gritty, believable feel. Both shows have earned kudos from critics. So why is Marvel’s Jessica Jones so much more appealing? Let’s break it down.

I See the Light

First and foremost, you can frickin’ see Marvel’s Jessica Jones. I have a big beef with shows that are dark. I don’t mean, dark in subject, like violence and death. I mean literally dark; I feel like I spend the hour squinting at the TV, even though it takes up half of my living room. I want to reach out and dial up the brightness, but that wouldn’t work, because that’s what the filmmakers wanted: DARK. Throw in the fact that nearly everyone is dressed in all black all the time, and I walk away with a headache.

Yes, it’s a seemingly minor problem, but it’s important. Think of a theater production: If they can’t hear you at the back of the balcony, your Tony-winning performance is worthless. Likewise, if I can’t see what the hell is going on, it’s wasted.

Marvel's Daredevil

Leave Them Wanting More

The number one rule in show business is “leave them wanting more.” The second rule, in my opinion, was stated years ago by Joss Whedon when Buffy the Vampire Slayer still aired: “Give them what they need, not what they want.”

On Marvel’s Daredevil, we see Murdock’s childhood story played out pretty soon after the opening credits of the first episode. In the next couple of episodes, we see more of his backstory with his dad. Now, backstory is necessary, sure, but don’t give it to me all in one exposition dump. First, yawn. I don’t care about that kid and his boxer Dad; I care about the guy bleeding on Rosario Dawson’s couch. Second, if I know the whole story up front, where are you going to go? No mystery.

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On Marvel’s Jessica Jones, we are tantalized, we are teased, we are left wondering what happened to her to make her an alcoholic bitch (who we love). By the end of the second episode, we haven’t even seen Kilgrave completely, only flashes of him. And what she did in her past is only hinted at, leaving us wanting to know more, more, more. There’s so much more mystery and suspense on Marvel’s Jessica JonesMarvel’s Daredevil becomes not so much about the characters, as the corporate bigwigs and their cronies and their machinations. Again, yawn. And while I’m at it, Mr. Robot did a way better job of making companies the bad guys. Take a page.

The Man Behind the Mask

Another reason I’m loving MJJ more than MDD is the main character is more interesting. In two episodes I saw many more shades of Jessica’s character than I saw in several episodes watching Matt Murdock.  You can see, in every exchange she has with every character, that there’s a lot left unsaid. On Marvel’s Daredevil, he’s so tough, so imperturbable, he’s one-note. It’s all glib all the time. And, other than his childhood and his boxer/loser father, we know almost nothing about him. What are his soft spots? How does he feel about his best friend and his secretary? What keeps him awake at night? Perhaps it’s the Zorro-like mask that hides his features that keeps us from seeing what’s going on with him, but I’m not drawn into his story nearly as much as Jessica’s.

It Ain’t All Bad

Having said all that, Marvel’s Daredevil is still better than a majority of garbage on TV. It’s just too slow and too shallow, when compared to its sister series. As for fight scenes, they’re pretty fantastic, especially the ten-minute one-shot of an exhausted Murdock taking on a team of men, knocking them down over and over, until no one is standing. Now, if only they’d turn on the lights.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

The Only ‘Jessica Jones’ Review You’ll Ever Need!

AKA Jessica Jones is Awesome!

Name a popular comic book character and there’s a really good chance that they were created before 1970. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America were all created before the end of World War II, when your grandparents were doing the Lindy hop. Somehow, that nostalgia and name recognition plays a part in the success of most comic book TV and movie properties, which is why the classic superheroes seem to do better than the new ones, or ones created for movies (the inexplicable Hancock). Jessica Jones is one of those rare birds in the superhero world, a creation from the last twenty years who is also awesome.

Über comic writer Brian Michael Bendis created Jessica Jones for an “adult” comic series– which means there is swearing and sex (the show also has a lot of swearing and sex! PG-13 style), though not as much as some people would like– called Alias (not to be confused with the Jennifer Garner Alias TV show). Once an Avenger (though only in flashbacks in her own comic series), Jones is a superhero fallen on hard times, a private investigator now, who seems to have left the superhero game in the past for a life of hard drinking and depressing dates. She feels like she’s damaged goods because in another superhero rarity, she lost a fight against the Purple Man, a deranged puerile bad guy with the power to make people do whatever he says– and his skin is purple. He’s sort of like if Chet from Weird Science was a super villain.

The Netflix show is also about private eye Jessica Jones. She has a traumatic past with a man named Kilgrave, who is not purple, but does wear a lot of purple, who seems to be coming back to haunt her. Jessica spends a lot of time alienating people and trying to just move her life along. She eventually admits that she is trying to make up for all the bad she’s done under Kilgrave’s control by doing a little bit of good. Jessica is closed off to the world, but yearning to re-enter it even though she’s terrified of being used again. She drinks too much, doesn’t take care of herself, and can stop a slow-moving car in its tracks.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Krysten Ritter (L) and Carrie-Anne Moss (R) in ‘Jessica Jones’

It’s sort of difficult to explain, but the Netflix show is perhaps a more faithful adaption of the comic book by not being a slavish adaptation of every comic story beat. For instance, this TV Jessica Jones was never an Avenger, which makes sense in the cinematic/TV universe. Also, in the Netflix show, Jessica’s best friend is Trish Walker (aka Hellcat in the comics) rather than Carol Danvers (aka Ms. Marvel in the comics) and all that makes perfect sense in the show, with the Trish stuff ringing very true to the comics without being an exact replica (Trish’s mom is the worst!). I guess it’s like how the third Harry Potter movie got better by not feeling like it had to adapt the book, but rather show a movie version of the story. That is to say, they nail the characters and that makes it good. The show actually improves on a lot of the character motivations and somewhat streamlines the story.

How do they nail the characters? By using Marvel’s super power, excellent casting: Krysten Ritter as Jessica; the amazing Mike Colter as Luke Cage; Racheal Taylor (who up until now has been really good on really bad shows like 666 Park Avenue) as Trish; and Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri;. All of them bring something to the table that makes this show more than a by-the-numbers superhero show. I think if you’re not a nerd, you might not even register that this is a show about a superhero. It’s certainly nothing like The Flash. One caveat: The early episodes have a slightly rushed feeling and it takes a few episodes for everyone to get their characters down.

Marvel's Jessica Jones - David Tennant

David Tennant in ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’

And what can I say about David Tennant that hasn’t already been said? He takes a very weird character, the bad guy, Kilgrave, who can impel anyone to do anything simply by asking them to– and he’s a bit of a scamp, never quite taking responsibility for any of his horrific actions– and makes it totally work, even making us feel sorry for him sometimes. Don’t worry everyone, that blender thing never quite happens!

Great minor characters too! And let’s not forget freaking Rebecca De Mornay chewing the scenery as Trish’s deranged mother! She’s so great! You know what? I’m going to mention another standout supporting actor, the always amazing Robin Weigert (Jane from Deadwood) whose wife is leaving her for a younger, hotter woman.

One weird casting complaint? I feel like the casting director had a type, as Rachel Taylor (Trish), Erin Moriarity (Hope), and Susie Abromeit (Pam) all are blonde, all-American patent types. I feel like maybe they had three good auditions for Trish and just decided to cast them all.

An interesting thing about comic books is that they are always in the second act, meaning that the story can’t ever really wrap up without ruining the comic. Batman isn’t ever going to stop crime in Gotham City for good. At least 12 comics a year since 1939, that’s 912 comics, and there are multiple Batman titles a month, and the Joker is still a problem! They married off Spider-Man to Mary Jane in the ’80s and then spent thirty years trying to think of a way to plausibly split then up since it seemed to the marketing staff that people were reading comics about a married old guy fighting crime. They are similar to soap operas in that sense: We never quite get to the resolution. Even when the story is done, something else happens to complicate things.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Krysten Ritter (L) and Rachael Taylor (R) in ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’

But Jessica Jones is sort of under the radar as not a huge character and has had quite an arc, more like a novel than Superman is ever going to get. Her story is rich with redemption and the importance of family. I won’t go into it too much because that seems to be where the TV show is headed. But who knows? Like I said, this isn’t so much an adaption of the comic as an interpretation of the character. But I will say that there are several cute love stories sprinkled into Jessica’s world, even if they all have some pretty big hurdles to get over.

I do have some mild complaints about the series. The Kilgrave story lags a little as he has no confederates who can be defeated to give us a sense of closure. Jessica hunts him and hunts him and makes some very strange decisions along the way seemingly to get us up to 13 episodes. There’s also a few story lines that seem like they’re going to be picked up in the Luke Cage series or the eventual Defenders series that I would have liked a little more information on.

By the way, this show passed the test for my wife, the beautiful Kelly. She doesn’t really like superheroes but puts up with a lot because she loves me. But this show, she genuinely liked. I think it’s because by nailing character, they also nailed relationships, and made all of those seem very genuine and compelling, even when Jessica was treating her sort-of friends like crap.

If you’re a comic book person and the Jessica Jones show gets you hungry for more of her adventures, the Alias series has been pulled together in two great collections and you can even get the Pulse collection as well, which is more Jessica, although it’s an all-ages book so it’s not quite as intense as the Alias stuff.

Anyway, Daredevil and Jessica Jones are finally living up to the promise of episodic Marvel television. Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pretty good, but it took a long time to find its legs. If you like action with strong female characters, check out Marvel’s Jessica Jones.

Jessica Jones stars in a Marvel Netflix show

5 Marvel Netflix Shows, Superhero Cameos in next ‘Superman’ Movie

The comic book adaptation news has been legion this week. So many Marvel Netflix shows are on the way! As always, I, for one, am very excited.

Perhaps I should first mention that I find talking about Netflix programming to be irritating because you can’t quite call them “television,” as they are some kind of new paradigm. I know a lot of people refer to them as “streaming,” but that doesn’t quite work for me either since, well, lots of stuff can be streamed that aren’t formatted like traditional broadcast television shows. So, for the purposes of this article, we will refer to anything on broadcast television and streaming shows formatted like traditional broadcast television as “blaps.” As in, “My favorite blap is House of Cards, although I like Orange is the New Black.” I’m hoping this hip new lingo catches on.

Who in the heck are Jessica Jones, Nightwing, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist?

First up, Marvel’s announcement of fricking five Marvel Netflix blaps, including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. My wife, the lovely Kelly, didn’t know who three out of those four are. She knows Daredevil, of course, because I made her go see the Ben Affleck movie and I talk about him a lot, conjecturing about whether or not Daredevil would like me (I think he would like me!). The fifth blap is going to be the group, The Defenders, who I can only assume are going to be made up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist–which isn’t a traditional comic book line-up for The Defenders, although I don’t care about them trying to match the comics. For others like my wife, those not acquainted with these heroes, they are several of Marvel’s “street level” characters, meaning that if an alien armada shows up to take over the world, starting with Manhattan, it’s unlikely that Daredevil would be the hero who stops it. (Although it is, for my money, just as unlikely that Hawkeye should be involved, and yet…) They are the hard-boiled detectives of the Marvel universe and fight actual criminals, gangsters, thieves, violent murderers, and routinely go to bars.

See also: Daredevil Easter Eggs Spotted by a Comic Book Fan

The unprecedented move here–and one it looks like DC might be doing in their next Superman movie–is that all of these heroes are close friends who are part of each other’s lives, although comic books are like soap operas so there’s always some drama going on. Luke Cage–who is super strong and invulnerable–started his comic book run in the ’70s with partner Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, a martial artist so skilled that he ended up in another martial arts dimension where he was trained until he beat up a dragon and was able to summon the dragon’s power through his fist, which made him super strong, as long as he was concentrating. They were both the heroes for hire, meaning that they charged for their services, which was weird, but a novel concept. If they both seem cinematic because they are a mash-up of two popular ’70s movie genres, Blaxplotation, and martial arts.

Luke Cage note: I can’t wait to see who plays Luke Cage. I know that several high-profile movie star have been wanting to play Luke Cage for years. With any luck, they’ll get someone great.

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Daredevil

You’ve probably at least heard of Daredevil, the blind man-without-fear who strikes terror into the residents of Clinton (Hell’s Kitchen) who is sort of a ninja-type, but does have radiation-enhanced senses. So–I realize this might be getting a bit confusing–Daredevil’s Matt Murdoch had his identity released in the comics but was denying it and hired Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica to watch his back. Obviously, as Daredevil, he didn’t really need that, but it would look funny if Matt Murdoch started beating up super villains who attacked him. So these four routinely show up in each other’s books.

Daredevil, oddly, is a place where writers bring their A game. It’s the best long-running crime comic. The aforementioned Jessica Jones creator, Brian Michael Bendis, wrote a story where Daredevil’s secret identity was revealed (in The Daily Bugle, the paper where Peter Parker works) and it wasn’t your typical “easily reversed” comic book story. The saga went on for years. I’m not going to look it up, but it had to be over 80 issues as it was picked up by the next writer, the sublime Ed Brubaker, who wrote a “Daredevil in jail” story that is excellent. And Daredevil has some of the best villains out there: Bullseye, a psychotic killer; The Owl, a lesser crime boss with an inferiority complex; and the Gladiator, a loon who thinks he’s in Ancient Rome who has the a great costume. Anyway, my point is that there is a lot of excellent Daredevil stuff out there and I’d love to see it brought to the blaps.

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Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones was a newly minted character in the early ’00s from Marvel’s Brian Michael Bendis, a super powered Avenger–she can fly and is very tough–who gave it all up after a horrible experience made her realize that she had done her bit and she became a private eye, lost in tawdry nights and too much drink. Jessica eventually cleaned up, then dated, married, and had a baby with Luke Cage in a very sweet comic book story (that does not start off sweet in one of the only instances I can bring to mind of anal sex being addressed in a Marvel or DC comic book). (Editor’s note: What the what?!)

 

I have no idea if they’re going to use any of this existing back story. But in this case, I would bet, yeah, they’re going to build some of those relationships. Otherwise, why these characters? And we know that there is going to be a team movie at the end. And I love the idea of seeing Jessica fall in love with Luke Cage on a fricking blap series. And an odd hope of mine? The Punisher figures heavily into Daredevil lore and Marvel recently regained the rights to him, too. Oh, and Luke and Jessica hired one of the greatest dumb super heroes there is to be the nanny for their boy, the sublime Squirrel Girl. Let’s start the petition now to bring Squirrel Girl to the streaming screen.

See also: Why I Like Jessica Jones Better than Daredevil

Campy or Dark?

Another question I have is, what is the tone of these shows going to be? I’m betting based on the group of super heroes that they are not going to be children’s programming (I did mention the anal sex, right?) Will there be swearing and nudity? Jessica Jones actually started off in a Marvel Max book, which is the comic book equivalent of an R-rated movies, with sex, cursing, and blood when someone gets punched. I for one would be delighted by a more adult handling of this, but don’t want it to go too far. It would be weird to see Iron Fist have sex with someone (and brings up a pretty obvious “fist” joke) or Daredevil naked. (Editor’s note: That fist comment was so not necessary.)

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Jessica Jones note: The book was called Alias, by the by, and there are two trades that cover the whole series. Mike says, check it out.

Special Effects

One thing that gives me some confidence in the shows? The quality of the existing Netflix shows, which are pretty good, more specifically, the level of special effects on the Netflix streaming-only Hemlock Grove, which is, visually speaking, sort of a super powers show. The effects were reasonably good and you had a couple of super-powered people fights. So, with a comparable budget, we could be in business. And of course, sometimes low budget fights can be great. But effects-wise, I’m not sure we had anything like Daredevil swinging through the skyscrapers of Manhattan, which is always difficult to make look anything but silly. If you think about even the big-budget recent Batman movies, there weren’t a lot of shots of Batman getting around town, so that will probably be easy to avoid. The only movie series that successfully realizes rooftop swinging are both sets of Spider-Man movies. But the super-powered fighting? I think a Marvel Netflix show can make that happen.

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Villains

A slight issue with this whole idea is that Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist don’t have the best rogues gallery around, so I have no idea who the villains will be, like none, zero, not even really a guess, except with Iron Fist who had a recent run (Ed Brubaker again) where we saw a lot of cool characters. Jessica Jones’ thing was always that she was running around the fringes of the Marvel universe. Her first story ends with her confronting Captain America, which I’m sure isn’t going to happen. (Editor’s note: Can I “confront” Captain America?) But I’m sure they’ll come up with something cool. Hell, the Punisher could be the bad guy, which I would fully support.

Pitfalls

One trepidation I have is named Jeff Loeb, and he’s the TV guy for Marvel and is kind of an idiot. He has some great big-picture ideas (A RED HULK!), but his execution often leaves something to be desired and he seems to be the kind of guy who is not above making a fast buck. So, there’s always the possibility that this was a “for cash” deal that Marvel won’t oversee as closely as their movie series. But I choose to have faith.

Stan Lee note: The father of all modern super heroes himself, Stan the Man, was not above making a fast buck.

These Marvel blaps are probably going to follow the model created in the Marvel movies, leading up to Marvel’s The Avengers, which is to completely embrace the sensibility of comic books, a shared universe where heroes wear outfits and know each other. Compare this to the DC adaptations where, God help me, the TV versions always seem to hate the comic book versions of the characters and everything that makes them popular and enduring. For instance, Smallville went for years calling Superman “The Blur.” What in the hell was that? I cringed every time they said it, so I cringed a lot. I even felt funny typing it. And I kept waiting for Clark Kent to start wanting to save people. I was better with Arrow calling Green Arrow, “The Hood” since he’s a Robin Hood type. But still, DC, love your characters. The best DC product of the last ten years, the Justice League cartoon, loved the Justice League and embraced every weird thing about it, including having a season-long arc of Gorilla Grodd trying to turn every human being on Earth into a gorilla.

Arrow note: Arrow is really good. Wednesdays on the CW at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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Marvel, on the other hand, love their product and are throwing all kinds of fun stuff out there. For instance, remember that weird subplot in the middle of Iron Man 2 where they invented vibranium? Man, was that a comic book storyline Tony Stark is saved by magic metal. Vibranium is very important in the Marvel universe. And again, I have no special insight into how these blaps are actually going to be, but the character choices make me think that we’re going to jump into some of the great comic book friendships. I bet you a nickel that Superman and Batman don’t get along for most of the Superman/Batman movie. (Editor’s note: It IS called Superman VS. Batman. Duh.)

Superman/Batman

Since I brought it up, let’s talk Superman/Batman a little. There are some interesting rumors about the Superman/Batman movie that makes me think that they might be at least trying to embrace the idea that their characters have been popular for nearly a hundred years and that people like them. In other words, they are not going to have Superman and Batman be totally re-invented, but rather be familiar enough that they don’t have to re-do the origins. I have no idea if this is true, but Internet wonks are saying that Wonder Woman and Nightwing (a grown-up Robin) are going to be in the movie. I hope that’s true. You know what wasn’t any fun? That last Superman movie. I’ve come to peace with some of the more violent aspects of the movie, but am sincerely hoping that the next movie is less of a bummer.

Casting

I’m also very excited about the rumor of Girls actor Adam Driver as the front-runner for Dick Grayson, Nightwing. Man, that’s some great outside-of-the-box thinking. Remember when we got Chris O’Donnell playing that part? I like O’Donnell’s work sometimes (Men Don’t Leave is awesome), but they didn’t seem to get past “wouldn’t it be great to have Chris O’Donnell play that part?” It’s difficult to imagine Driver not at least coming up with something memorable.

Superman/Batman note: I wrote a whole article about why I like Ben Affleck, so judge me as you will.

Honestly, I don’t really care what they do with the Superman/Batman movie or these Marvel blaps specifically. I just want them to be good. In all cases, that means a healthy respect for the source material, but not a slavish devotion to it. I think that the Harry Potter movies got a lot better with Prisoner of Azkaban where they seemed to stop trying to bring every moment from the books into the story and started adapting the stories to be movies. That’s what we need here. I’m really looking forward to see what happens! I bet it is, at the very least, interesting. DC, it might be time to make that Swamp Thing deal with Amazon blaps.

5 Marvel Netflix Shows, Superhero Cameos in next 'Superman' Movie

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