Jessica Jones and Supergirl: 2015 and the Year of the Super Heroine

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Go shorty, it’s ya birthday!

Could it be true? Do my eyes and ears deceive me? From the depths of some unbelievably lucky producers 36-hour bender comes a bevy of barrier-breaking super heroines making their way into the homes of millions of Americans who have had nothing but testosterone-filled, male-centric stories of justice and revenge dominating the hero game for the past 30 years. Inevitably, it was a matter of time before we began to see their female comic book counterparts take their talents to the big leagues, and 2015 blessed up and hit us with fine-tuned and well-crafted iterations of two iconic characters in Supergirl and Jessica Jones.

Now, let me just stop myself right here and clear a few things up. First, this a fully grown Black man dropping these fem bars about to tear up your cranium. This is written from the perspectives of several men. Last, I’ll be the first to admit that my familiarity with these characters was suspect, at best. I mean, of course I was up on Supergirl from her multitude of appearances in cartoons growing up. But Jessica Jones was a whole ‘nother animal. Hell, I had literally 0 idea that Jessica Garner’s show Alias that ran from 2001-2006 was the first attempt at bringing Ms. Jones to life. With that being said, I found out that Marvel was following up that badass Daredevil show with this beaut and I did some good ol’ 2015 research (Wikipedia and IMDB) and was blown away with the story they managed to put together surrounding this woman’s life.

As BNP OG Omar said, “They managed to put together this chapter of Jessica Jones’ life with such craft. Jessica Jones on Netflix came straight outta the panels with its dealing in abuse, PTSD, and the ruthlessness of Killgrave and his fuck shit, along with all the stages of recovery and strength Jessica displayed in order to put Killgrave (The Purple Man) down.”

I was game, and anyone who has yet to decide on this Marvel Netflix production should rethink their skepticism. Don’t worry, I got the fax to back it up, fam.

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The first show to drop was the bright and optimistic Supergirl, which mirrors The Flash’s ability to be true to its heroes origins. Not only do they keep it 100 95% canon, but they do so in a vibrantly constructed, villain-saturated DC universe. Supergirl did a good job of laying the groundwork for female superheroes to flourish on television. A lot of people have some qualms with the show because it has remained too “safe and untested.” It got a reliable TV time slot and didn’t include many shocking scenes or moments that could alienate viewers… but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Who the hell wants their patience to be tested?

Okay, maybe they need to take a few more risks, but word about the second half of season 1 is that things will get a bit dark and dangerous with that big character reveal and the Kryptonian invasion cliffhanger we were left with in the midseason finale.

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Jessica Jones was up next a month later and brought the no-nonsense NOISE. Jones ran up into the super heroine house and started Lou Kang Chun-Li kicking doors down, and ripping apart the flooring and drywall while simultaneously rebuilding the perception of female crime fighters. Jessica Jones embodies everything that Supergirl doesn’t… and I don’t want you to get anything twisted. I’m not saying that Supergirl is incomplete or lacking, I’m saying that each show brings so many completely different elements to storytelling and character development that you have to pay homage to both shows and their approaches. Unlike Supergirl, Jessica Jones is dark, gritty, angry and unapologetic about a damn thing!

The homie Taj weighed in and said, “I started watching Jessica Jones solely off the strength of Netflix’s Daredevil run, as well as my burning desire to keep my ear to the streets on all things geek. JJ totally surpassed my wildest expectations, giving viewers a decent narrative, a terrific villain, vast array of interesting yet imperfect characters and at the center of it all a strong and relatable protagonist. During the course of the first season we’ve watched this conflicted, tormented, tornado of a woman tear down the layers of her psyche only to build back something better in its place. Now don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a woman in the MCU that can take the place of my fictional bae Peggy Carter, but Jess was really gunning for that top spot. Jessica is a concrete rose after my own heart. Jess was already “super,” but watching her accept the role of “hero” was one of the highlights of my 2015.”

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Now I want to get into a little segment that I’m straight up calling Girl Power.

Maaannnnnnn I got 4 sisters, mad cousins, and a few nieces, so you best believe that I have me and mine in mind when watching certain shows… and these shows gave me hope that future seasons and future shows will continue to fill all female-hero-centered shows with tiers of women embodying varying strength, levels of success, and patience, as well as individuals facing daunting despair, overwhelming depression, and the most gripping loss of control one could ever imagine. They characterized the shit out of the ladies on Jessica Jones and it’s SO. DAMN. OFFICIAL. You don’t even think twice about the boss-ass capabilities of Carrie Anne-Moss and her portrayal of high-powered attorney Jeri Hogarth, because they paint such a vivid and believable picture of a world that sees plenty of women in power, fully embracing who they have become.

Dat dude Jordan pulled up with a few words as well, saying, “I haven’t seen Supergirl yet, but Jessica Jones went so hard, man. Having a hero who is resilient, brash, takes charge, and is not dependent on salvation from a man is so important to see, and its success as a series will pave the way for more such characters in the future. In that way alone, Jessica Jones changed the game for superheroes onscreen, and is reason for celebration.”

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Supergirl goes with the quite literal approach of empowering its main female character. Kara Zor-El is the other surviving child of Krypton, so being here on Earth with its weaker gravity and bright yellow sun provides Kara with all the same super powered capabilities of her widely revered Kryptonite cousin, Superman. So shorty got that super strength, flight, Sub-Zero breath and murder-death-kill eye laser beams. It’s these powers that force Kara to take a very different approach to life than say, Jessica Jones. Kara has to hide her insane powers. She can’t act tough like she does when facing a foe. She has to cower behind her geeky glasses and vicious boss to protect her secret, while Jones gives 0 flagrant fucks about who knows what she can do… for the most part.

Speaking of Kara’s despicable boss, Cat Grant is the CEO of CatCo, after working as a gossip columnist at Metropolis’ Daily Planet. She now competes with The Daily Planet for readers and viewers after building CatCo from the ground up. She isn’t necessarily the kind of role model that I would urge young ladies to look up to, but you have to appreciate the hustle. You have to pay homage to the journey before the glam. You have to give Cat props for making it as far as she has despite the loss of her son and having to come to terms with that moment no parent ever wants to come to… realizing that you may not be the best person to raise your offspring. Powerful message in that interaction between Kara and her typically stank-ass boss.

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2015 has blessed us with female heroes that are ready to stay and flourish in this ever connected Marvel and DC universe. Jessica Jones is leading the interwoven trajectory with its inclusion of Luke Cage in multiple episodes. We all already know about Daredevil, with it’s second season coming in 2016. Cage and his unbreakable skin is full steam ahead with his Netflix show dropping in April. Recently, Marvel eased fans worries about the potential shelving of Iron Fist, and stated that we should be hearing some concrete casting news soon, and can expect the show to be ready for binging in 2017. All of that will culminate with an amazing team-up series featuring all four as The Defenders.

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Supergirl had her very own layering of characters with the huge surprise that the suspicious Hank Henshaw revealed himself to actually be J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter. J’onn has been one of the most permanent members of the Justice League, which could lead to many spectacular appearances from the DC universe. Showrunners have teased that Supergirl is indeed in the Arrow-verse, but don’t plan on doing any Arrow or Flash crossovers anytime soon. We’ll see how long that lasts doe.

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Now, I don’t want people to think I’m hating on Peggy Carter by leaving her show out, but unfortunately Agent Carter is much more of a superhero show that has a female lead, but is dominated by male characters all over the joint. Luckily, that doesn’t decrease her importance or ability to provide MCU insight, as we saw a little Steve Rogers action and found out the origins of the Black Widow and Winter Soldier programs. Keep grinding, Peggy.

There is no doubt that television has become the premiere platform to provide fans with a place to check out their favorite female heroes. Shows that aren’t scared to show their girls exhibiting a wide range of emotion. Shows that embrace what it means to be a woman in a man’s world. Shows that give giant middle fingers to your expectations and desires to see cookie-cutter representations of females in tights fighting bad guys. CBS is holding down Supergirl and Netflix blesses us with the uncensored Jessica Jones, so if you need some of these gals in your life you can stay on the lookout for Supergirl’s second half of Season 1 returning on Monday January 4th, while Jessica Jones full first season is available for you to place another huge dent in your couch, thanks to a 12-hour vegetative state of outstanding comatose TV gluttony.

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Grown ass men love Jessica Jones, Supergirl, and the badassery they embody. Women and girls love the same, plus more genuine representation of such powerful individuals that own every ounce, crumb, nook, and cranny of their feelings and emotions.

It’s about time we were finally given the super heroines we all deserve.

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  • Ja-Quan is a NYC teacher and artist holding a B.A. in Sociology and History from SUNY New Paltz. On his journey to become Hokage, the Lord of The Speed Force and Protector of the Recaps can be found North of The Wall, chopping it up on Twitter @OGquankinobi