Why Jessica Jones hates the MCU

You know what I hate most about comic book movies and TV shows? They really, really wish they weren’t based on superhero comic books. Sure, comics can give them the characters and story material for some of the highest grossing films of all time and the most successful Netflix shows, but let’s not mention the source material, eh?

This isn’t new, of course. I’m put in mind of the Tim Burton quote in his feud with Kevin Smith, “Anyone who knows me knows I would never read a comic book”, says the two-time Batman director. More recently however, I saw it in Jessica Jones on Netflix (Daredevil was somewhat guilty of this, too).

One of the big draws of Jessica Jones was that it was part of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, which  basically means it set in the same world as Robert Downy Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America. Though it would never happen, it’s entirely feasible within the show that either of these characters could actually make an appearance, and can be referenced in-show. Except Jessica Jones really doesn’t like referencing superheroes. The Hulk is “the green guy” and Captain America is “the flag-waver.” Jessica Jones hates superhero characters so much it can only actually reference them euphemistically, even though a big selling point of the show is that it co-exists with said characters.

Now, on its own I don’t really care about that. The showrunners are clearly going for a particular aesthetic and tone and are keeping as far way from the capes and costumes brigade as possible in order to achieve that. Literally nothing in Jessica Jones would have been any different if it wasn’t connected to the MCU, meaning the connection it does have is nakedly commercial in nature. Say its part of the MCU and you get +X more viewers.

What this really makes me think about is how superheroes evolved from popular, pulpy kids entertainment to being dominated by 18-40 year old men. How this audience seems to need to legitimise the stories by making them as brutal and bleak as possible. “Look, comics aren’t just for kids! This woman got raped, see? This is mature stuff.” But it isn’t mature stuff. It’s juvenile, usually. Bendis got it right with Alias, but for every Alias there’s two Identity Crisis or Superman breaks someone’s neck.

I liked Jessica Jones. I think its a great story of PTSD and surviving abuse and coming out the other end. I think its a great story of not being defined by your abuse or abuser. And I even think linking in the superhero aspect lends proceedings a certain power. I’m just not so sure it should be in the same world as Ant-Man and Rocket Raccoon. My 4-year-old son loves Guardians of the Galaxy, you know? (I censor when appropriate). But I’m betting that come Infinity War we’ll have Daredevil and Jessica Jones in the same shot as Rocket Raccoon and Groot and now I’m totally with the JJ showrunners – they don’t belong in the same place.

This isn’t me saying comics shouldn’t ever deal with these kinds of issues. Of course it isn’t. But I do question the wisdom of superhero comics looking at these issues, especially while they double down on corporate synergy and link everything together for good or ill. There’s a longer entry in here about the nature of franchises, corporate ownership and stewardship of characters. Remind me to write it?


Insert Boomtown Rats Reference Here

It’s Monday when you’re reading this,(for me it’s Thursday, I try and write in advance) so that means it’s a writing blog. Contain your excitement, yeah? It’s only the first paragraph. As with the last two, I’ll just be giving a quick update on where I’m at with my writing endeavours before getting into more meaty stuff next week.

As most of you are likely aware, the main focus of my writing is usually comics. Can’t get enough of em. Can’t afford to make them, either, which means comic book writing is going to have to take a back seat for a little while. I love it, I always will, but a huge part of making comics is actually making the things, which means working with and paying an artist, colourist, letterer etc and I can’t quite get there right now. I still have a few projects simmering – a political thriller, a coming-of-age drama, and an exercise in comics form disguised as a coming-of-age drama. I’ll get them done in time, I’ll keep working on them, but they’re not a priority.

NaNoWriMo, because apparently I love self harm and am drowning in free time, is the priority for the next month. For those who don’t know, NaNo is National Novel Writing Month, the challenge being that you sign up and try and knock out the first draft of a novel by the end of November, 50,000 words. “Ambitious” doesn’t quite cover the size of that task given my usual time constraints, but I’ll give it a whirl. Goals and all that, If anyone else is taking part, search for me on the site as Sudge. We can weep into each others virtual arms.

Then there’s this blog. It’s here because I need to write more often, preferably every day, and I need something to write about that isn’t a big meaty piece of work that I need more time than I have to complete. That doesn’t mean it’ll be an afterthought though. I’ll put all the time and consideration I can into updates. The plan is to always have a post or two queued so I don’t miss a scheduled post. Doing OK so far, but it’s early.

That’s all for now. Comic and novels and blogs, I also snark on twitter as @StephenSuthes, should your timeline be oddly quiet when Question Time is on and you just want to liven things up.

NaNoWriMo: 1,243 words

The Consumption

It’s Wednesday! And from now on that means I’ll be yakking about things I’ve read or watched or listened to lately, so here’s a little update as to where I’m at.

Surprising no one more than myself, my comic reading habits have changed dramatically from even 6 or 7 months ago. I used to easily hit 20+ comics per month, and now I’m lucky if I hit one a week. Maybe my tastes have changed, maybe I’m harder to please, but there just aren’t that many comics that are really grabbing me right now. I don’t even collect Superman regularly, which is a bit like a bishop missing mass. Although I should point out that Greg Pak’s Action Comics is a mainstay, one of the few books I read month on month. (Along with The Wicked + The Divine and anything Ellis has written that month.) Comics just aren’t exciting me like the used to, certainly not at the pro level. And this has led to even my comics writing ambitions sliding a little. Comics will always be my first love as a medium for storytelling, but lately everything from the most popular content to the inner workings of the industry has just felt wrong, sometimes even poisonous. More than ever, I need a strategy and philosophy for comics that will carry me through. Maybe I’ll work it out here.

I’m currently reading all the Robin Hobb I can get my hands on. The Farseer trilogy was wonderful, so now it’s Liveship’s turn. I know there are more trilogies with Fitz and co after Liveship, so I’m eager to progress. That being said, Liveship is a great series in itself. I’m a sucker for politics in my comics and novels, and Liveship seems to be playing with that a little more than Farseer did. I’m also hoping to get more into my “classics” in the future, having had Don Quixote on my Kindle for quite some time now. I try and read a fiction followed by a non-fiction, but the trilogies keep sucking me in…

As for TV, I’m midway through a rewatch of my favourite TV show, the West Wing, and about halfway through Sense8. They share an unabashed romanticism about people and the world in general – people are generally good and decent and will come through in the end. That’s so far up my street it’s sitting in my favourite chair. I think we might be seeing a post-cynicism era of genre TV coming through, with Sense8, Supergirl and the Flash coming to mind immediately. I hope so. Pop culture’s dark night of the soul is long overdue its daybreak. Also watching and loving Doctor Who, which might be having its best series since Matt Smith’s debut. I feel like this series is about the effect of and importance of companionship, which really doesn’t bode well for the resident companion. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

That’s it for today, just a wee overview before we get into the good stuff. Hope you keep reading!

(OH, gaming – I mainly play Destiny on X-box One at the moment, but will shift to Battlefront when I can.