Women and Heroics – Thoughts on Jessica Jones and Supergirl

2008 was a busy year to say the least.

America entered into the Great Recession and a great obsession with super-hero cinema. Iron Man exploded into the scene and launched the first successful cinematic universe. Fans would line up in droves to catch the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and would sit in theaters, with rapt attention, to catch the stinger often present at the conclusion of the credits. Franchise after franchise have been launched and billions have been raked in. With the addition of Star Wars, Disney may literally print their own money.

Sadly, each and every film has focused and starred a white man in the leading protagonist role. Granted one of those white men often turns into larger green man, but that hardly counts for the sake of diversity. Even Scarlett Johansson’s fan-favorite character, the Black Widow, has never been considered for a solo film.

But, after seven long years, 2015 showed the signs of progress. DC, in an effort to expand the presence of their characters on the small screen, released a Supergirl series on CBS. Meanwhile Marvel launched their second Netflix series, Jessica Jones, in November.

The two could not be any more different. Supergirl is fun; with big action and a perpetually optimistic tone. It can sometimes be a little heavy-handed with its messages, but it still finds time to be endearing.

Jessica Jones, however, is as relentlessly dour as Supergirl is bright. It’s smart and subtle, and Krysten Ritter creates a character the audience can find great empathy with. Despite her considerable dark side.

The shows and genre are not for everyone. But with the release of Supergirl and Jessica Jones, and the release of Wonder Woman next year, perhaps the recent cultural craze around superheroes with take a greater measure to embrace diversity.

-Matthew Simpson

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One Response to Women and Heroics – Thoughts on Jessica Jones and Supergirl

  1. marymdalton says:

    Krysten Ritter is a knitter! Really. I’m still stuck at episode 10.5. Maybe this weekend I’ll get back to it. Interesting post!

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