Three is a trend, but after seeing the first two episodes of the second Marvel-Netflix shows, I’m already seeing a pattern.
These shows know how to establish a villain.
It’s something that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always struggled with. The movies have succeeded on the strength of the heroes, but they’ve also never quite figured out how to establish a baddie to match them. The answer to the problem, however, can be found near the MCU’s most effective villain to date, Loki. What makes Loki different than, say, Ronan the Accuser or Malekith, apart from the phenomenal performance from Tom Hiddleston? Time.
Loki has been the evil half of the equation in two Marvel films, giving the audience time to familiarize themselves with him and his wicked, wicked ways. After all, Loki Fever didn’t fully catch on until his second appearance, in The Avengers. And now both of Marvel’s Netflix series have taken advantage of that concept in a nearly identical fashion.
Call it the Yoda Principle. In Empire Strikes Back, there’s nothing but thin talk about Yoda and his power in the first part of the film, and when we do meet him, there’s a subversion of expectations. How could someone this small be the powerful Jedi that we’ve heard so much about? This is exactly how Marvel has handled their villains for Daredevil and now Jessica Jones, and the strategy is so similar across each series that it’s hard not to figure that it’s purposeful.
If you recall back those many months (seven) ago, Daredevil began with three episodes of talk about what Wilson Fisk was capable of and some physical evidence to support it. Then, just before the credits rolled on the third episode, we meet him. But he’s not anything like what we expect. All Fisk has to do in his first appearance is stare at a painting and say how it makes him feel. The first three hours of Daredevil have established the evil that this man is clearly capable of, and then our true introduction to him is a simple scene, which explains that we don’t actually know the first thing about this guy.
This strategy worked very well. Fisk, outside of Charlie Cox’s stellar Matt Murdock, was the best part of Daredevil, so it’s no surprise to see Jessica Jones take a similar approach to Kilgrave. And after the events of the first episode, I think it’s safe to say that Jessica Jones is managing to pull off the same trick in one fewer hour.
Thusly, the second episode of Jessica Jones wastes no time diving straight into the question of how Kilgrave can still be alive, when Jessica supposedly watched him die and saw a death certificate. It’s almost as if the mind controller is like a bug that refuses to stop living. If only there were some sort of really obvious metaphor for that…
The private detective isn’t exactly in a great spot when “AKA Crush Syndrome” begins. Lester from The Wire doesn’t believe her account of what happened to the Schlottmans in that elevator, and the police are knocking on Luke Cage’s door to show him the pictures Jessica surreptitiously took of him and his married lover, Gina. That’s right, married. Her husband had been the one who put Jessica on the Power Man case, or at least that’s how she tells it. None of this matters too much, though. She’s got a madman to catch.
NEXT: A couple puzzling leads…