Jessica Jones may be the most subversive of Marvel’s superhero stories thus far, but it’s still full of cameos, shout-outs and connections—to the cinematic universe it is part of, and the comic books it came from. Here’s a few of the links to the wider world of Marvel movies and comics we noticed while watching.
Obviously, going in, there will be Spoiler-filled discussion of all thirteen episodes of Jessica Jones. If you’re not quite done watching yet, turn back before it’s too late!
To the Comics...
Alias’ Smashing Opening
Naturally, the groundbreaking comic from Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos that introduced us to Jessica Jones is heavily referenced throughout Jessica Jones. But the opening scene of the first episode, where we’re introduced to Jessica by the way of her forcibly ejecting someone through the door of Alias Investigations, is pretty much taken directly from the opening pages of Alias #1, right down to the quip about bills.
Aside from the obvious story beats, there’s several other nods to the seminal series as well—when Jessica impersonates the wife of a man she’s tracking down for Hogarth, she does her work pants-down and on the toilet, a reference to a scene in Alias #7 that sees Jessica break down everything she knows about a case while on the loo.
Besides the stuff lifted from Alias, one of the most oblique references to the comics—and, strangely enough, one of the few things we thought weren’t executed all that well in the series—was the inclusion of Will Simpson’s downfall into superpowered villainy, courtesy of some interesting pills.
The setup is a reference to the old school Daredevil villain Nuke. Named Frank Simpson in the comics, Nuke was part of the same legacy of programs that created both Captain America and Wolverine—the process leaves him deranged, and he ends up tattooing the U.S. flag onto his face. Nuke powers up in the comics much like Simpson does in Jessica Jones: he takes a red pill to amp his adrenaline up and give him increased pain tolerance and strength, a blue pill to bring him back down (so the rush doesn’t kill him), and white pills to maintain a balance between the two states. Jessica Jones simplifies that a little by keeping the red and blue pills as the source of Simpson’s new abilities—but don’t be surprised if Will Simpson makes a future appearance going by his comic book name, in either Jessica Jones or Daredevil.
During the fifth episode, “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me”, Jessica Jones flashes back to the period when Jessica decides to try out being a superhero for the first time. Eager to help, Trish designs Jessica a costume, much to her chagrin—and the costume is the same one Jessica wore in the comics under the persona of Jewel (and later as Power Woman, and, err, Jewel again)—although here Jessica mocks the name as something that sounds like a stripper’s name rather than a superhero. Jessica’s vividly pink hair from her superheroic days, however, wasn’t included.
But Jessica’s was not the only “super suit” we got to see in the series. The very first time we meet Luke Cage in the show, when Jessica tracks him sleeping with a woman, Luke is wearing a muted version of his classic yellow shirt and blue jeans look from the comics. He only wears it briefly in the show, but it’ll probably appear again in his own Netflix series.
You might be surprised to hear that Clemmons (Clarke Peters), the detective who’s strong-armed into helping Jessica prove Kilgrave’s powers (and who faces an untimely death at the hands of Simpson) was a comic book character—but only fairly recently.
Oscar Clemmons was introduced in Greg Rucka’s run on The Punisher in 2012, as an NYPD detective that disagreed with Frank Castle’s hyperviolent brand of vigilante justice. With Castle coming to Daredevil season 2, it would’ve been interesting to see Clemmons brush up against the Punisher on screen, but following his gruesome end at Simpson’s hands, it’s not to be.
The Bizarre History of Patsy Walker
Patricia “Trish” Walker, played by Rachael Taylor, is a familiar name to diehard Marvel fans. Though she goes by “Patsy” in the comics, the same way she did as a child star in the Netflix show. In the present day, Patsy Walker is the superhero Hellcat, but she’s actually one of the oldest characters in Marvel history, stretching back way back to the time when Marvel was still called Timely comics.
Back in the Timely era, Patsy wasn’t a superhero, but the star of a teen romance comic, Miss America Magazine. The series eventually spun out into Patsy and Hedy—and became one of the few comics to be consistently published as Marvel transformed from Timely, to Atlas, and ultimately to Marvel Comics in the 1960s. It’d take another decade of cameos for Patsy to transform and gain some supernatural powers as Hellcat, and she finally joined the Avengers in 1976. Patsy’s absurdly long history is directly referenced in Jessica Jones when she has an unfortunate encounter with a fan in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”—Trish attacks the fan thinking it’s a stalker, but all he wanted to do was get her to sign his copy of Pasty Walker #26, which first appeared in January 1950. Aged remarkably well, hasn’t she?
The Other Private Investigator
When Luke comes to Jessica in “AKA You’re a Winner!” to seek her help investigating his wife’s death, Jessica originally attempts to pass him off to another P.I.—and in doing so, dropped a pretty big hint to the world about her soon-to-be-fellow Defender, Iron Fist.
Angela Del Toro, the P.I. Jessica mentions, is better known to comics readers as the fourth person to hold the superhero mantle of White Tiger (the current and fifth incarnation is Ava Ayala, sister to the original White Tiger, Hector). Angela is Hector’s niece, and uses his mystical amulets to grant her superhuman abilities, frequently teaming up with Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil. On top of those links to the other Netflix heroes, Angela’s amulets actually originated from K’un-Lun, the very same magical city where Danny Rand learned the power to become the Immortal Iron Fist—and presumably a place that will be mentioned in his own Netflix show. Maybe we’ll end up having Angela show up in Iron Fist!
Hero for Hire?
Heroes for Hire was the team-up series (and team name) of Luke Cage and Iron Fist’s original comic series, and Jessica Jones refers to that legacy in one pretty obvious way... and one that might be a little more of a stretch.
The most obvious is Carrie-Anne Moss’ Jeryn Hogarth, a powerful lawyer who helps Jessica throughout the course of the series. In the comics, Jeryn is a man, and he provides legal counsel to Danny and Luke as an official employee and business partner for Heroes for Hire. Her appearance in Jessica Jones is presumably direct setup for future appearances in either Luke Cage or Iron Fist—especially as Jessica Jones ends with her apparently being forced out of her law firm.
The far looser reference comes with the very end of the final episode, “AKA Smile”. With Kilgrave dead, Jessica finds her phone buzzing with people looking to hire her—but not as a Private Investigator. She gets call after call, each of which she dismisses, from people looking to hire her as a superhero. While we wait for Luke and Iron Fist to come to Netflix, could we see Jessica form part of the Heroes for Hire before we get the fully-fledged team-up in The Defenders?
... And to the MCU
This one kind of goes without saying, but Luke Cage being one of the main characters in the first season of Jessica Jones is, in itself, a massive MCU connection. As you probably know, Cage is an important Marvel superhero, with superhuman strength and “unbreakable” skin, as its described in the show. He’s next in line to get a Marvel Netflix series too, so this is basically like if Jessica Jones played Foggy Nelson in Daredevil. His backstory is mostly ignored in Jessica Jones, outside of the fate of his wife, so expect lots of that to be covered in his own series, which airs next year.
The Night Nurse
Fans surely know that Rosario Dawson played Claire Temple, sometimes
referred to as Night Nurse, in Daredevil. Well, she makes a cameo appearance in the finale of Jessica Jones season 1 as one of the people tasked with trying to save Luke Cage, after Jessica unloads a shotgun to his chin. When Claire realizes Luke is special, and mentions he’s not the only special person she knows in the neighborhood, Jessica trusts her to take care of Luke. Claire later mentions that if Jessica needs some help, she could call her friend—who’s never named, but is a deliberate nod to Matt Murdock—but Jessica declines. Expect to see Claire in Luke Cage’s series, as well as Daredevil season 2.
A general self awareness of The Avengers
Like Daredevil, Jessica Jones is set in a post-Avengers Manhattan. When you live somewhere that aliens flew out of the sky and destroyed the city, it’s something that’s going to be on people minds. However, where the reconstruction of the city was a main thread in Daredevil, here it just sort of permeates through the characters and plot. Everyone is aware of it, witnessed it, and talk about it in relation to other events. Jessica and Luke talk about the “big green guy” and the “Flag Waver,” for example, Trish says anything is possible if aliens can drop from the sky, and things like that. It only, directly influences the plot in one instance…
Jessica is blamed for The Avengers’ destruction
Early in the series, Jessica accepts the case of a woman named Audrey Eastman (actress Jessica Hecht) who Jessica worries is under the influence of Kilgrave. However, Jessica soon finds out Audrey heard she had powers and hired her in order to kill her. Why? Because Audrey lost family in the Avengers’ Battle of New York and wants revenge on the gifted people. Jessica retorts that she should take it up with the big green guy or flag waver, referencing Hulk and Captain America—and the idea of a lingering distrust of superheroes after the explosive events of Avengers and Age of Ultron seems like it’s going to be some subtle setup for the climate of Captain America: Civil War.
And finally, not exactly an explicit Marvel Cinematic Universe Connection, but a funny circumstance. Birth Movies Death’s Devin Faraci notices a familiar face in the background of a newspaper stand Jessica tails someone past in “AKA Take a Bloody Number”...
Whoever would’ve thought Spider-Man’s first MCU appearance would be as an ice cream?
Noticed any more MCU and comics connections while you’ve been watching Jessica Jones? As always, let us know in the comments!