Netflix's Jessica Jones feels startlingly fresh for a Marvel show — it has a tightly plotted story arc and authentic relationships, and more disturbingly, the terrible themes that define the show's universe don't feel so far off from our own. The show is also quite literally like nothing we've seen from Marvel — embedded throughout are a series of firsts for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ahead, we pinpoint 20 ideas, themes, characters, and moments that Jessica Jones introduced to the MCU. Spoilers for Jessica Jones ahead.
Take a peek at the cast:
First things first: First Marvel property to star a female superhero (Agent Carter doesn't have powers, lest we forget).
First gay and lesbian characters. Jeri and Wendy Hogarth are going through a contentious divorce so Jeri can marry her mistress, Pam. The gay couple seemed happily married (and rich enough to own a yacht!). Until Kilgrave gets to them, of course.
First quoting of a Kendrick Lamar song. In episode six, Luke Cage hires Jessica Jones to find Antoine for Antoine's sister. They eventually find him — listening and singing along to "Backseat Freestyle." In general, the MCU has shown its superheroes to be generally out of touch or unaware of recent pop-culture references. Captain America has his notebook, baby-boomer Tony Stark has his AC/DC, and Falcon's a fan of the Trouble Man soundtrack.
First sex scene in the MCU. While characters like Tony Stark and Peter Quill reference their sexual exploits and Hawkeye probably had to make those babies somehow, the MCU has been relatively chaste. Heck, we still wonder if Captain America's a virgin and Daredevil's Charlie Cox got more action in his movie Stardust than throughout his own show. On Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Jessica have hot, rough sex, while elsewhere in the MCU, it's all Disney kisses at tense, climactic moments.
In fact, it's the first sex scene between two superheroes. Outside of fanfiction, of course.
And the first cunnilingus scene — and the first oral sex of any kind! Again, outside of fanfiction.
First severed head on a desk. Yes, we see Captain America stabbing people, Black Widow electrocuting them, and more than enough smashing and explosions, but rarely do we get a look at the bodies left in their wake. And even while Daredevil was particularly violent, Jessica Jones is stomach-churningly grisly. Makes sense, considering creator and executive producer Melissa Rosenberg was the head writer of Dexter for its first four glorious seasons.
First Marvel property that doesn't start with an origin story. The mystery of Jessica's life, traumas, and powers unfold at a pace that's slow enough to intrigue but fast enough not to drag. Daredevil was riddled with flashbacks; Jessica only needs one scene of smashing a bathroom sink as a teenager to establish her powers.
First scene of fighting child abuse. The same scene that establishes Jessica's powers also establishes her purpose: saving Trish from her horrible mother. While Matt Murdock tells a similar origin story to Foggy — beating up a man abusing his daughter — it's another thing to actually see it happen.
First use of the words, and acknowledgement of, rape and PTSD. Tony Stark had terrible and realistic panic attacks in Iron Man 3, but no one put a name to it: PTSD. And when Jessica clearly draws a line between what Kilgrave does and what consent actually is, she also draws a line between MCU properties that don't acknowledge rape and her show, which does.
First drug-addict detox. Yes, Tony Stark has a severe alcohol problem in Iron Man 2, but it goes relatively unmentioned in future iterations of his character as he sips Champagne with Pepper Potts in The Avengers. Obviously, heroin is a whole different beast, but the fact that Jessica pushes Malcolm out of the hold Kilgrave has on him — both the mind control and the drug addiction — is another instance of how the show doesn't flinch away from terrible things that, unlike aliens attacking, actually happen.
First pregnancy and first abortion. After Hope Shlottman gets beaten up in jail, Jessica visits her and finds out that Hope's pregnant with Kilgrave's baby and trying to get rid of it any way she can. Her lawyer Jeri eventually gives her the means to do so.
First successful suicide attempt. A pretty major character offs herself, which we'll refrain from mentioning for those who haven't finished the series yet. A lot of MCU characters have a death wish, but rarely do they succeed.
First mention of race and racism. Sure, all the characters in MCU have black friends, but do they ever once realize the racism those characters face? Ruben points this out to Jessica, and she ends up exploiting this for her own means, using Malcolm as a distraction at Metro General so she can sneak off to get the surgical anesthesia to use against Kilgrave.
Calling out police brutality. Speaking of realistic New York, Simpson the cop is trigger-happy even as we see him un-Kilgraved, slamming Malcolm against a wall. While Trish insists Simpson's a good person, Jessica is more wary, constantly calling him out on his excessive use of force.
First time the MTA makes a cameo in one of MCU's many New York–based stories. The MTA is in this as a villain (covering for a drunk bus driver), making Jessica Jones the most New York MCU property ever.
First freelancing superhero. The fact that any of the MCU superheroes have any kind of work-life balance is probably because they turn their vigilantism into salaried positions, whether it's working at Stark Industries or S.H.I.E.L.D. or starting their own small law firms. That scene with Jessica hounding Jeri about a payment? Too real.
First superhero with a biological sibling. Yes, of course Loki counts as Thor's brother, but every MCU superhero aside from Jessica is an only child.
First shitty apartment. Okay, it's huge for a freelancing gumshoe in Hell's Kitchen with no roommates. But it's still got all the cracks and stains of a real crap New York apartment, which contrasts nicely with the apartments Kilgrave steals and occupies.
First time a Marvel superhero takes selfies. Jessica uses her phone a ton in comparison to the other MCU properties (though Cap does receive texts from Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and at one point, she starts sendings selfies to Kilgrave. Superheroes usually get photos taken of them. And before anyone says Spider-Man, it does not count as a selfie if you have to put a timer on your camera.