Why Only Krysten Ritter Could Have Played the 'Damaged' Jessica Jones

Carita Rizzo
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Netflix

Jessica Jones has the strength to halt a running vehicle. She can take out a room full of thugs without breaking a sweat. She even knows how to fly. Hard as it is to imagine, the sullen woman hiding under that hoodie is a true superhero. Well, was a superhero. After a brief stint that ended tragically, Jones (Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23’s Krysten Ritter) now works as a private investigator in New York City, using the hours she’s not drinking—or passed out—to catch philandering spouses.

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“She’s damaged,” says executive producer Melissa Rosenberg, who developed the dark Marvel Comics story into a 13-episode Netflix series. “She’s not a character that is often written for women.” But the first female superhero to front her own Marvel series is much more than a boozy mess. The inaugural season deals with the emotional fallout of Jones’s traumatic past and the return of Kilgrave (Doctor Who’s David Tennant), a mind-controlling villain who once held Jones under his spell. “The series’ arc is on some level about redemption but also healing for this character,” Rosenberg says. “It’s really about facing

While no prior knowledge of the comic book characters is necessary, the series is packed with Easter eggs and connections to the Marvel universe—including the introduction of the unbreakable Luke Cage (Mike Colter), whose own Netflix series premieres next year. (All the streaming service’s Marvel shows, including Daredevil, will lead into an eventual team-up series, The Defenders.) But the focus is firmly on the titular character, and Ritter, whom Rosenberg calls perfect for the role. “[Jones] has an edge, and, really, the actress who plays her is going to have to be able to deliver those very dry, edgy lines that brought dark levity to the process,” she explains. “Can you go from heart-wrenching emotional drama to this incredibly dry line? Krysten Ritter is the only one who could.”

RELATED: Watch the Dark Jessica Jones Trailer

Marvel's Jessica Jones, Series premiere, Friday, Nov. 20, Netflix