Last week, I wrote an article on the backstory of Jessica Jones, summarizing her publishing history in comics that she starred in (mostly excluding her newer stuff, in which she is a side character for the New Avengers). At the end, I posed the question of how this story will be adapted into the Netflix series. For purposes of simplicity, I am writing this article under the assumption that you have read the backstory article, therefore we are all starting on the same page. So if you haven’t, here is the link once again, just for your convenience.
As far as I see it, there are a couple basic approaches that a Jessica Jones TV show could adapt the story of Jessica Jones, especially Alias, while involving the Purple Man. For starters, let’s look at what we know for sure.
The cast includes Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Purple Man, Hellcat, and a recurring character known as Harper, who we are unfamiliar with in regard to Jessica Jones comics.
The synopsis includes a lot of basic information:
“Ever since her short-lived stint as a Super Hero ended in tragedy, Jessica Jones has been rebuilding her personal life and career as a hot-tempered, sardonic, badass private detective in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Plagued by self-loathing, and a wicked case of PTSD, Jessica battles demons from within and without, using her extraordinary abilities as an unlikely champion for those in need… especially if they’re willing to cut her a check.”
Basically, this synopsis could be the same synopsis of Alias. The emphasis on Private Detective means that we are not likely to see much from The Pulse, but we’re rather gonna stick with Alias, the original R-rated comic by Michael Brian Bendis.
So how could this story be adapted?
The Straight Transition
Many read the above synopsis and said that Alias is going to be adapted directly, without any significant changes. We are going to see Jessica enslaved by a sadistic Purple Man. The character is going to be the exact same. At the moment, there is absolutely no evidence against this theory, and the synopsis does seem to back it up. As far as the backstory of Jessica Jones, it is very possible we will see a hero-turned-slave and the course of the show would see the slave-turned-hero.
Obviously, this would be extremely dark for Netflix. While Daredevil set a new bar for violence in the MCU and even language, it only briefly flirted with the idea of sex, despite Daredevil’s villains often being less-than-clothed (Typhoid Mary and Elektra, specifically). To go with the straight adaptation would take the MCU somewhere it has not been before. That’s not to say it won’t, but it would be a big hurtle to jump for the MCU.
So this is possible and a straightforward route that the series could take.
The Hellcat Substituion
Hellcat is an interesting character for this series, as she was not featured at all through the original Alias stories. It’s possible that Marvel intends to set up Hellcat as a substitution for Jessica Jones as far as the slavery of Purple Man is concerned.
Let me elaborate on this thinking that leads to this theory. Alias comes into a world where superheroes exist aplenty. In fact, there are too many of them to count. Purple Man has been beaten by heroes numerous times. That’s why he feels compelled to reach out to Jessica and take control of her, as punishment to the other heroes. While Daredevil could be used in this way, I don’t believe that any other established hero in the MCU would be brought in to embitter Purple Man. This leads to the idea that Purple Man is thrwarted by Hellcat and takes control of her instead of Jessica Jones.
This would involve the enslavement taking place at the same time as Jessica’s story, allowing her to see the effects first-hand, and even allowing a superhero faceoff between Jessica and Hellcat (controlled by Purple Man).
There really isn’t evidence of this theory beyond the involvement of Hellcat in the series. I think it’s birthed in the idea that the show of Jessica Jones would likely want to be at least somewhat different from the source material, if only for variety sake.
How Many Cases?
As Jessica Jones is a Private Detective, it’s a good bet that she’ll be hired to be a detective at some point or another, just as Murdock being a lawyer meant we saw him taking a couple cases. This leads to the question of how many we will see at what length through the course of the show.
The Daredevil Precedent – Jessica Jones could follow the same track as the Daredevil show, where several episodes focused on cases (or in Jessica’s case, investigations), but the plot was not entirely dependent on them. This would involve smaller villains, so to speak, and in maybe a third of the episodes Jessica would take on a case. The plot of the show would be larger than the sum of the cases. Once again, like Daredevil.
The Alias Precedent – In Alias, the source material, the cases went on for four to six issues a piece. If these issues were to equate episodes, we could see three to four major cases throughout the story, each lasting a couple episodes. One again, the overarching story would be more than simply solving cases.
The Detective Show Precedent – Jessica Jones could follow the precedent of other detective shows and have each and every episode be a separate case, while a grander story is still told outside them. I don’t see this as likely, but it is an option.
One Overarching Case – Finally, we could see just one case. The entire season of Jessica Jones could be one massive case, involving the Purple Man. This would not follow any precedent set in other material, but would offer a suitable explanation for the emphasis on Purple Man as a season villain, when he has never been seen to be a criminal mastermind.
For my part, I believe we will see the Daredevil Precedent, both in this show and in future shows. I think the method of storytelling is one of the reasons that Daredevil has been so successful and that Netflix will replicate this success. At this point, it’s difficult to see what the show will be like, especially with characters such as Hellcat and the mysterious Harper, but for now only time will tell.