This article (obviously) contains Jessica Jones spoilers.
Of the many things that Jessica Jones does right (and there are very many), the fact that it has never been too caught up in the workings of the rest of the Marvel Universe is key. When the other shows were putting pieces in place for The Defenders, the show instead focused on the most compelling and personal aspect of Jessica’s story: her traumatic past with Kilgrave. While Jessica was certainly a major player in The Defenders, she did what she had to do, and her second season hardly even makes reference to those events, instead focusing on another personal story.
The first season was adapted (albeit loosely) from a relatively brief story that closed out her original comic series, Alias, while season two forged its own path and departed from the comics considerably. But there’s still a chance that other Alias stories could point the way towards Jessica Jones season 3.
Prior to the introduction of Kilgrave to Jessica’s backstory, the Alias comics were part hard-boiled PI story, part comic book procedural. She dealt with a number of missing persons cases (none that had anything to do with Kilgrave, IGH, or the mystery of her past), behaved in her charmingly direct manner, and solved mysteries with connections to the larger Marvel Universe without getting too involved in matters of continuity. The connections were there, but for the most part, even the most casual of comic book fans could read Alias and get everything they needed to out of it.
And that’s part of the charm of the Jessica Jones Netflix series, too. It’s clearly a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s not so connected that it can’t tell its own story. More importantly, someone who has never seen a single Marvel Studios film, or even read a comic, can jump right into the show without fear. There are some threads from either of the first two seasons that could certainly be picked up in Jessica Jones season 3, but at least as far as the source material goes, they all hinge a little more on the larger Marvel Universe.
So what could Jessica Jones Season 3 look like?
Change of Format?
This is, I admit, the least likely scenario. While Jessica Jones is perhaps the best of Marvel’s Netflix efforts, there are some dangers going forward. For starters, the show already used the character’s most compelling story in its first season. While delving into Jessica’s backstory and bringing in her mother worked well enough in season two, it still lacked the horror movie drive and intensity that Kilgrave brought in season one. How do you top either of those? It will be tough.
But the most drastic thing Jessica Jones Season 3 could do would be to depart entirely from the Marvel Netflix obsession with serialization. If the show were to embrace an old-fashioned procedural format on the streaming giant it would feel downright revolutionary. Keep everything else the same, have a looming background threat or larger case that gets pieced together, but let a chunk of the season function as standalone episodes.
There’s plenty of material already in place for a larger conflict that plays out during individual cases. The fact that Malcolm is now working for her #1 competitor. The fact that her (former) best friend now has powers of her own and something to prove. It would be fun, at least for a few episodes, to let this play out in a procedural format.
I doubt this will happen, of course. But were they to go that route, either of these stories from Jessica’s early days could help serve that structure…
We learned in season two that there is an increasing culture of people (including Trish Walker) who want super powers at any cost, and there are shady doctors out there willing to fill that need however they can. This is something that can be explored further in Jessica Jones Season 3 and it’s the most likely way they can keep developing the Trish Walker/Hellcat story.
In the comics, one of Jessica’s cases began with a disoriented young woman dressed in a Spider-Man costume displaying some minor super abilities. The trail quickly led to a bunch of unscrupulous nightclub douchebags running a Mutant Growth Hormone ring. While mutants are still off limits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for at least a little while longer) and its TV offshoots, that won’t be what they call it. As we saw in season two, there are plenty of ways to bestow super powers on desperate individuals. But the basics, that someone is starting to flood the street with a drug that gives ordinary people super powers, would certainly fit with the show’s aesthetic. Remember, public displays of powers are still in their relative infancy in this world, but as they become more prominent, certain unhealthy trends are sure to follow.
The seeds of public fascination with superheroes are already there with Trish’s own obsession with becoming more than who she is. In that respect, a season arc dealing with the street level implications of that would fit nicely. If a bunch of skeevy assholes start exploiting people’s addiction to a drug that gives them superpowers, that handily builds on the themes they’ve been exploring with Trish, and will help further contrast with the fact that Jessica doesn’t particularly want her powers in the first place.
This one might be a lot of fun. Rick Jones (no relation) has been a massively important piece of the Hulk’s supporting cast in the comics, but little more than a passing reference in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Part of this is because The Incredible Hulk didn’t need a teenaged POV character, particularly since they weren’t telling an origin story in the first place.
In this story from Alias Volume 1, Jessica is contacted by a woman who claims to be married to Rick Jones, who has gone missing. Rick is something of a minor celebrity in the Marvel Comics universe. He followed the Hulk around for years, was briefly Bucky’s replacement as Captain America’s partner, was the human vessel for Captain Mar-Vell (it’s a long story), and constantly found himself wrapped up in various cosmic adventures. He even wrote a memoir.
Jessica tries to track him down, and in the process, runs afoul of the beauracracy and bullshit of the superhero universe, mostly without ever actually speaking to the people she needs to. In the end, it turns out that the guy she’s looking for isn’t even the real Rick Jones, just a sad, charismatic wannabe. The comic story is a wonderful commentary on the strange nature of celebrity, particularly as it would be unique to the Marvel Universe.
This story could be a fine secondary case or an inciting force (the way that Hope was) for something a little deeper or more sinister. This could once again tie into Trish’s journey and her desire to be something more than human. “Fake Rick” could be the kind of real world anchor that Malcolm provided in the first two seasons, providing perspective and a grounded mystery for Jessica to solve, while the sci-fi implications of actual powers can be dealt with in a larger story.
But again, just as the first two seasons weren’t strict adaptations of the comics, any of this could be rendered virtually unrecognizable were it to get to the screen. Anyway, if you think too hard about this stuff, you risk ending up like this…