jessica jones vs alias

Jessica Jones and Malcolm

One of the biggest adjustments from page to screen is the character of Malcolm (Eka Darville). In Alias, he’s an irritating but loyal teenager and superhero fan who hangs around Jessica’s office hoping to get a job because he wants to brush shoulders with superpowered folks. In Jessica Jones, he’s Jessica’s junkie neighbor who turns out to be a pawn in Kilgrave’s revenge scheme. Once he’s cleaned up, he becomes a valuable ally. The final shot of the final episode suggests that he may follow comic Malcolm’s trajectory and become Alias Investigations’ in-house assistant.

In the pages of Alias, Malcolm is a little half-baked – he never feels like he matters much and the series concludes before he can make much of an impact. Plus, his superhero obsession and knowledge of the larger Marvel universe doesn’t make sense in the MCU, where there are only a few established and well-known superheroes. His TV reinvention is a huge improvement and Darville’s likable and quietly charming performance is a welcome component of the ensemble.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones and the Marvel Universe

Although Jessica Jones takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that also houses the Avengers movie characters and the Daredevil Netflix series, it operates almost entirely on its own. Outside of an early subplot that deals explicitly with the psychological fallout that the “Battle of New York” from 2012’s The Avengers had on certain people, Jessica Jones might as well take place in its own pocket universe. This will change as its supporting characters get spin-off shows and the Netflix end of the MCU becomes more tightly woven, but the world feels a little empty right now.

It’s a bit of a shame, really. In Alias, Jessica is able to go on a date with Scott Lang (whom Paul Rudd played in this summer’s Ant-Man), only to have their dinner interrupted by a battle between Spider-Man and Doc Ock. She can accept a job from J. Jonah Jameson, brush shoulders with Thor, and utilize psychic training from Jean Grey to repel Killgrave’s mental assaults. In one of Alias‘ wildest story arcs, she was tasked with tracking down Rick Jones, the minor Marvel character who accidentally helped create the Hulk, acted as Captain America’s sidekick, and fought in the Kree-Skrull War.

Jessica Jones is a very good show with more than its fair share of great moments, but it does suffer a little from not taking place in such a detailed universe that has so much history. The whole “superhero-turned-P.I.” thing is a little more effective when she’s one of many heroes and has willingly left that flashy life behind.


Jessica Jones and Daredevil

The closest connection Jessica Jones has to the larger MCU is its fellow Netflix series, Daredevil. Although the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t actually show up in the series, his ally Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) pops up to assist Jessica when Luke Cage is injured. Seeing Claire show up, even if it’s just for a single episode, is hugely satisfying. It initially feels like a bummer that Jessica turns her down when she offers to give her powered buddy a call to help with the Kilgrave situation, but it was the right call. Jessica Jones didn’t need a last-minute guest star to help save the day when it has its own great characters.

However, Matt Murdock/Daredevil plays a significant role in Alias. He’s Jessica’s lawyer and finds himself bailing her out of trouble on more than one occasion. In one arc, he even hires her and Luke Cage to act as bodyguards when his secret identity is compromised (their presence make him look like he can’t protect himself). In the series, Matt’s role is filled by sleazy big-time lawyer Jerri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), who ends up being integral to the larger plot and a compelling character in her own right. However, in future seasons, maybe Jessica will need a new lawyer and maybe she’ll look for someone a little cheaper and a little closer…

jessica jones opening credits

Jessica Jones and Her Origin Story

The origin of Jessica Jones’ powers is very simple in Alias, mirroring the clean and simplistic origins of classic heroes like Spider-Man. Her family is on a road trip, their car collides with a military transport containing an experimental something-or-other, and everyone is killed except her. Naturally, whatever was in that truck gives her powers. The end.

Jessica Jones maintains the same basic template: there’s a car accident and she gains powers. However, there doesn’t seem to be a military transport in the show (they hit a fairly ordinary-looking truck) and Trish uncovers a conspiracy that suggests Jessica was the subject of mysterious medical experiments while she was recovering after the accident. That subplot is a big question mark and will surely form the skeleton of season two. In any case, Jessica’s powers are no longer “just another thing that happened in the Marvel universe.” There’s a bigger mystery going on, for better or for worse.

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