Wonder Woman and Jessica Jones are both important female superheroes in their own right, but the latter has more realistic representation for women and explores women’s rage — which is why I personally feel it's just a teensy bit better. Not that Patty Jenkins’ work should be devalued or scorned. Jessica Jones has the luxury of being a series instead of a movie with a ton of time constraints, and I'd love to see if she includes more flawed female characters in the upcoming sequel.
Wonder Woman is the idealized superhero we wish we could be. She's always good, always fighting for justice, and always beautiful.
Jessica Jones—and the other female leads like Trish Walker, Alisa Jones, and Jeri Hogarth—are our mirror images. They're who we are, even if we don’t always like to admit it. They’re allowed to be destructive, to be angry, to be dysfunctional... They are heartbreakingly real and all the more relatable for it. In an age when there’s too many stereotypes surrounding women in the media, Jessica Jones gleefully smashes them to smithereens thanks to the reasons below.
16 Human Versus Demi-Goddess
As much as everyone bawls their eyes out at the end of Wonder Woman, when the loss of Steve Trevor and her belief in love allows Diana Prince to gain the strength she needs to defeat her brother Ares (AKA the Greek God of War), she was still raised as an immortal Amazon and not exactly human.
Jessica Jones, on the other hand, is gloriously human.
Up until the horrifying car accident when she was spirited away by Dr. Karl Malus to be experimented upon at IGH, she was 100% normal. She was a moody teenager that often liked to sulk in her room, she had an annoying sibling, and she had parents whose marriage was far from perfect. Jessica, for all of her powers, doesn’t have to struggle to understand humans in order to rise above adversity and acting the hero.
15 Time To See Dr. Phil
Let’s face it, if Dr. Phil existed in the world of the Netflix Marvel universe, he would salivate at the opportunity to psychoanalyze Jessica and wouldn’t have a clue as to how to deal with Diana.
Reality television jokes aside, Jessica is a bit more relatable because she suffers from anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For comic-book fans that also suffer from a wide variety of mental illnesses, it is AWESOME to see a beloved character deal with the same struggles.
Diana is an empowering character in a different way, but her storyline in the DCEU can’t hold a candle to Jessica’s all-too-human struggles with her own trauma. Watching Jessica work through (and sometimes utterly ignore) her own traumatic experiences is a nice bit of realism from the part of the showrunner and writers.
14 Near, Far, Wherever You Are, Diana's Heart Will Go On And On
Aside from not being able to see her mother and the rest of Amazons for the rest of her life, as far as the DCEU is concerned, Diana has only experienced the loss of her beloved Aunt Antiope, her love interest Steve Trevor, and her friends that were with her on the secret mission to stop Ares.
On the other hand, Jessica has lost her entire family (her mother twice), her best friend, her work partner, and her employer. She discovered that even though her mother was still alive, the powers Malus gave her caused violent mood swings. She also had to sift through the fact that her parents’ marriage wasn’t the ideal she thought it was growing up, and that they were preparing to get divorced before the accident.
Sure, it’s foul that Diana can never see her mother again, but at least she knows that she’s alive and safe in Themyscira, while poor Jessica had to watch her best friend shoot her mother and watch as Alisa passed away in her arms.
13 You Think Darkness Is Your Ally
Not that Diana hasn’t faced her own struggles in how to adapt to a “Man’s World” or come to terms with the fact that humans aren’t the noble warriors she heard about growing up at her mother’s knee, but for all of her internal struggles (especially after the death of Steve), she’s got a light inside of her that can’t be extinguished.
Jessica, on the other hand, has often battled with her own internal darkness and the darkness of others. It has left her smashed, bruised, and traumatized, but she’s managed to keep going.
This is a HUGE step in how women are depicted in the media and it shows comic-book fans (especially women) that even if they are struggling to get through their own “dark night of the soul,” they can make it and come out swinging, just like Jessica. She is gloriously human and flawed, which makes her a compelling heroine.
12 Poke The Hornet's Nest
Even though Wonder Woman had a fantastic message of empowering women and believing in love, Jessica Jones showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg, doesn’t shy away from providing a well-rounded, strong female superhero. AND she explores important concepts, such as consent and the #MeToo movement.
The entire first season delved into part of the reason why Jessica suffers from PTSD —Kilgrave mind-controlled her and took away her consent to even control her own body or how to dress.
She was forced to be his super-powered assassin and had no say in the matter. Jessica had to confront her abuser in order to stop him once and for all, which definitely wasn’t easy for her. To make matters worse, she still had to work through all of the pain that Kilgrave caused — even after he was safely six-feet under the ground.
11 Birds Of A Feather Flock Together
One of the things I desperately wished we saw more of in Wonder Woman was strong female friendships between the Amazons and Diana’s friendship—not only with her mother and aunt—but with her fellow warriors too.
Jessica Jones delves into the complexities of female friendships with Jessica and her BFF/adopted “sister” Trish Walker. They are close and trust each other, but there’s jealousy on both sides.
Jessica is jealous of Trish’s wealth and ability to do good with her now defunct talk show, while Trish is jealous that Jessica has been gifted with superhuman powers; powers she doesn’t even want to USE to be a proper superhero. While I love the disagreement between Hippolyta and Antiope, I would’ve loved to see Diana’s relationship with her fellow Amazons fleshed out. Did she have a best friend? Were they jealous of her status as princess? Did she envy them the chance to train freely? Inquiring minds want to know, Patty Jenkins.
10 The Rise Of Hellcat
Trish Walker has a seriously fantastic and utterly compelling arc in Jessica Jones season two. As much as I loved seeing Diana go from idealistic Amazon to the Wonder Woman we all know and love, the movie is only two hours and 29 minutes long, so some of the details weren’t as fleshed out as they could've been due to time constraints. Sometimes, a slow burn storyline is the best.
Besides, Diana is a demi-goddess and it's her divine duty to protect humanity as an Amazon.
Trish, for all of the horrible things she did in Jessica Jones season two, is still a very human woman that has a fierce sense of justice and wants to right the wrongs she sees. Unfortunately, she goes about it all wrong by forcing Dr. Malus to give her powers and doesn’t realize that she had all the tools (wealth, a talk show, etc.) she needed to fight injustice. It will be interesting to see her rise to becoming her comic book counterpart Hellcat in season three.
9 Diana's A Little Too Perfect
According to the DCEU, Diana is the daughter of a Greek God AND an immortal Amazon. Physically speaking, she’s flawless. She’s never going to have to deal with the human experience of aging such as combating pesky grey hairs with a box of hair dye or using facial creams to minimize any wrinkles on her face.
Jessica, on the other hand, is gloriously human and flawed. She’s got anger management issues PLUS superhuman abilities, which means she has to work twice as hard at controlling her temper.
Jessica is also an alcoholic in part because she self-medicates in an attempt at controlling her PTSD, which often manifests as nightmares. She’s got no people skills, unlike the endlessly gracious and charming Amazonian princess. But that’s what makes Jessica so much fun to watch — she’s flawed and she’s rough around the edges. She’s perfect in all of her glorious imperfections.
8 Being A Hero Isn't Just About Brute Strength
Look, as much as we all loved the No Man’s Land scene in which Diana revealed herself as Wonder Woman for the first time, and cleared the way for the American troops to go up against the German army, Jessica Jones highlights the fact that sometimes heroes don’t have to grab a sword in order to fight.
Take Trish confronting her childhood abuser, for instance. She doesn’t grab a sword and beat him with it until he’s begging for mercy. Instead, she uses her intelligence and her words as weapons in order to outsmart him.
Sure, Jessica gets a chance to use her super strength to scare the bejeezus out of Maximilian Tatum, but it’s TRISH that had the courage and the brains to confront him, even after all the foul stuff he did.
7 Turning Stereotypes On Their Head Is Fun
The difference between Diana and Jessica is that the former is an old-school kind of superhero while the latter (especially in the Netflix series) turns the stereotypes on their head. Diana is beautiful, gracious, strong, and smart. She’s loving and a force for good. Even if Diana DOES get angry, she is willing to forgive.
Jessica, on the other hand, is a surly alcoholic with anger management issues that wears the same clothes day in and day out. She’s a force for good, but she doesn’t like it. If Jessica had it her way, she would rather have her family back together again than have superhuman abilities. She’s a reluctant superhero, unlike Diana who feels it is her duty as an Amazon to help humanity.
Jessica breaks down the stereotype for female superheroes, which is why she's so compelling to watch.
6 It's A Hard Knock Life For Us
Don’t get me wrong, Diana has plenty of emotional strength but it is important to remember that she is NOT a normal human being and was born gifted with divine abilities, thanks to her father being king of the Greek Gods.
Jessica, however, is just a regular ol’ human that has been through a TON of foul stuff and still comes out swinging.
Think about it — she lost her ENTIRE family in a tragic car accident, died, and was brought back to life thanks to Dr. Malus playing god. She watched her adopted sister and BFF struggle through addiction, and she learned that her mother survived the car accident but has violent mood swings thanks to IGH’s experiments. That could have crushed her, but due to her emotional strength, she manages to survive and keep going.
5 Functioning In Spite Of The Dysfunction
So often in the media, women are pigeonholed into stereotypes — the brave, good-hearted warrior, the girlfriend, the damsel in distress, etc. Jessica Jones took those tropes and tossed them into the garbage where they belong, though.
Thanks to showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, the women in Jessica Jones are allowed to be dysfunctional, and this adds to the realism of the show.
Jessica often pushes people away in a desperate and misguided attempt to keep them safe from the trouble that seems to be drawn to her like a magnet, Trish struggles with her own mental health issues and her emotionally abusive mother, and Jeri Hogarth is allowed to be a cunning, self-serving woman that is NOT a cartoonish stereotype of a villain.
In fact, there are often times where the audience feels a great deal of sympathy for her. It would have been nice to see more fleshed-out and dysfunctional female characters in Wonder Woman.
4 Life's A Roller Coaster Ride
Due to the fact that Jessica Jones has 13 one-hour long episodes, which tell a tale instead of a little over two hours, we as viewers get a chance to see the characters’ ups and downs over the course of a season.
I’m not knocking Wonder Woman at all, but I do think a 13-episode season is ideal for creating and fleshing out compelling female characters that knock down the mold of what a woman “ought to be” according to media stereotypes.
Not that Wonder Woman wasn’t inspiring to watch, since she’s the first female superhero to appear on the big screen, but in terms of breaking the mold for female characters, it isn’t as fearless as Jessica Jones is. However, that is due to time constraints and the fact that the scriptwriter was a man. It will be interesting to see if the Wonder Woman sequel is on the same level as Jessica Jones.
3 The Demons Hiding In Plain Sight
What I find so darn compelling about Jessica Jones is that for ONCE, a female superhero is allowed to be jaded and cynical. Yes, in the DCEU Diana is definitely jaded after the loss of Steve Trevor, but she never experienced the level of trauma that Jessica went through in her short life.
There’s something so refreshing about watching this woman that has a biting wit and a dismal outlook on life, rise to the occasion and do good deeds.
Jessica would faint before she ever put on a ridiculous costume and went out as a crime fighter like Wonder Woman does in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but she’s still an inspiration for many viewers, both male and female.
Marvel and DC Comics, can we please have more television shows and movies like this? Pretty please with a cherry on top?
2 What Makes A Monster And What Makes A Man
The only disappointing aspect about Wonder Woman was that the villain was a bit one-dimensional. Dr. Poison and Baron Erich Ludendorff were certainly interesting, but Ares was a bit flat. Yes, he was an all-powerful Greek God, but WHY did he dislike humanity so much and want to destroy his father Zeus’ creation? I got the hint that it was due to jealousy, but it would’ve been nice to see some flashbacks or some explanation as to why Ares felt like that.
On the other hand, Kilgrave was a villain and used his abilities for nefarious purposes, but at least we SAW why he became a villain.
Likewise with both Alisa Jones and Dr. Karl Malus. They did some pretty reprehensible things, but at least the audience got a chance to see what shaped them and what drove them to do such foul actions.
1 The Potent Power Of Female Rage
We saw a glimpse of Diana’s rage after Steve Trevor sacrificed his life to stop Ludendorff, but it was quickly quelled and she used her overwhelming goodness to stop Ares.
It was an awesome battle scene, but I wish we got a chance to see more of Diana angry. Jessica Jones is a breath of fresh air because it allows female characters to show their anger in all of its shapes and forms.
There are complex reasons for each woman’s rage: Jessica because of her trauma, Trish because of her own trauma at the hands of her abusive mother and Maximilian, Alisa at being held back in her previous marriage, and Jeri at her diagnosis.
We often don’t get a chance to see truly angry women on screen, let alone four flawed and relatable angry women on one show.