The first time viewers were introduced to Jessica Jones’ powers was through a Netflix teaser trailer that featured the titular star easily smashing an alarm clock with her super strength. Over the course of the show’s first season, the hero-turned-private-investigator (played by Krysten Ritter) made frequent use of this superpower, with fight scenes that feature her throwing attackers across the room or breaking furniture on them—a detail stunt coordinator Chris Place says came about because of her superhuman gift.
“My first draft of the first fight in the show, she and Luke [Cage] were punching everybody. But the people who knew the comics said, ‘They can’t be punching these people; they’ll be killing them,’” explains Place of the challenge choreographing fights with characters who had superhuman abilities. “That was a big shocker because I was like, ‘How are we going to put fights together with these characters if they can’t really punch people?’ That’s when we started integrating props into [the fights].”
To find out more about the superhero fight club in Jessica Jones, we spoke to Place about three specific fight scenes to get some details.
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Jessica and Luke Cage's Bar Brawl
Jessica isn’t the only one wielding a superpower in the show’s universe, and the first fight scene serves as an introduction to her brief partner in crime-solving, Luke Cage (The Good Wife’s Mike Colter). When Jessica realizes a gang of men are intent on killing Luke, she rushes to the bar he owns to save him, only to discover he has some powers of his own.
“Luke knows he’s indestructible, so we just made him bored of fighting these people because he knows he’s not going to lose,” says Place of Cage’s attitude during the second episode’s bar brawl. “So he’s just smacking people with the back of his hand and moving slowly, not really caring if he gets hit or has a bottle broken on the back of the head. He knows it’s not going to hurt him. The fight’s just like a shrug of the shoulder [to him].”
It serves as a contrast to how Jessica herself approaches the same fray, as the character—much like the actress who plays her—has no formal fight training. “Jessica doesn’t have a fight style. She doesn’t throw moves or block any punches, so it’s a lot of pushing and shoving and throwing people across the room," Place says. “Krysten [Ritter] basically would be Jessica Jones to a T. Her personality actually helped define what she would be doing, which was great. Just literally using her super strength to throw people and kicking guys between the legs.”
Trish Walker Versus Will Simpson
Surprisingly, the show’s most skilled fighter proves to be Jessica’s best friend and adoptive sister, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), who has Krav Maga training. This is highlighted in a fight later on in the season when both Trish and Jessica are both forced to take on Will Simpson (Wil Traval), a former ally who turned against them.
“Simpson’s a good fighter, and he’s beating Jessica up. [But] Trish actually comes in and saves Jessica from him,” points out Place. “That’s where you start to see that Trish’s skills are a better match for him, even though she doesn’t have powers, she’s able to fight him. She comes out of the bathroom and fights him all the way back into the kitchen.”
Jessica Jones Faces Off Against Luke Cage
Being a comic book based show, it’s inevitable that two of the show’s toughest characters, Jessica and Luke, eventually face off against each other. However, this is something neither wants to do, especially since Luke is under Kilgrave’s (Doctor Who’s David Tennant) control. This meant that particular fight scene had its own set of special considerations.
“Jessica loves Luke, so she doesn’t want to kill or really hurt him, [but] we needed her to fight him to have a fight the audience wants to see,” explains Place of Jessica’s reluctance to fight back. “That’s why Luke is basically tossing her around for a while.” Because of this, Place’s approach to the scene was to have “a lot of big moves," like having Luke throw Jessica 50 feet across the room, and into chairs. “Again, [Jessica’s] using props to kind of slow him down. She’s throwing file cabinets and chairs at him, but he just swats them away and they fly across the room because he's Luke.”
It’s not uncommon to see Jessica lose a few skirmishes throughout the first season, something that helps keep the show grounded. “When Jessica fights, she can’t always win. There are people who are tougher and more trained than her. So we added her getting beat up. She actually gets zapped with electric tasers and brought to her knees, but she still saves the person she was trying to in a fight. We just want to keep it grounded to make it feel like a real comic book show.”
Marvel's Jessica Jones is currently streaming in Netflix.