Like all Marvel superheroes, “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” started as a comic book series. The TV show shares some exact scenes with the source material, “Alias” by Brian Michael Bendis, but it also made some big changes. In New York Wednesday night, executive producer Melissa Rosenberg revealed the challenges and the freedom that came with adapting a comic book during a discussion organized by the Peabody Awards.
Marvel gave Rosenberg much freedom when she was writing the first season of the Netflix drama. However, that’s partially due to the “Jessica Jones” fanbase, or rather lack thereof.
“We had one thing going for us, that also was perhaps going a little bit against us, which is that Jessica Jones is really not a well-known character,” Rosenberg explained. “So we didn’t have 50 years of canon to draw from. We had 26 or 8 issues, something like that. And we didn’t have the built-in audience because people didn’t know about her. That’s also the great news and the freeing news, which is there wasn’t a lot of things we had to live up to.”
Rosenberg noted while Marvel executives were often checking up on “Daredevil,” they gave the “Jessica Jones” writers more breathing room. “I think when it came to ‘Jessica Jones’ it was just kind of like, ‘Hey, you know, we’re not gonna tell you how to write a woman.’ And we honestly got enormous creative support from [head of Marvel TV] Jeph Loeb and great ideas,” Rosenberg remarked. “So that was a blessing.”
That didn’t mean that she was ready to completely veer away from the comic books, though. “I learned that the hard way with ‘Twilight,’ ” the writer, who also penned the 2008 vampire flick, laughed. “You take your life into your own hands if you veer away from that book.”
Rosenberg emphasized “Alias” was too interesting to change completely. “We grabbed onto every single moment, every single line that we could from that book because it was just so good.”
Not everything could stay, though. Jessica’s (Krysten Ritter) best friend was supposed to be Carol Danvers, and Rosenberg even had Ms. Marvel in the original pitch. However, the character is set to make her big screen debut in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” A Marvel executive pitched Patsy Walker (later updated to Trish Walker) as Jessica’s new best friend.
“It actually, you know, the friend not having superpowers ended up being much more interesting than a fellow superhero. … She’s got everything Jessica doesn’t have except powers,” Rosenberg explained. “And that’s a really interesting dynamic to me. There’s envy there, but also probably wish fulfillment. It’s a whole lot of stuff going on.”
In Season 2, there will likely be more changes, but Rosenberg wouldn’t reveal what was planned she simply said that they wouldn’t copy Season 1. “I think the mistake is to try to recreate and do exactly what you did last time and then you die, creatively. You have to constantly reinvent,” Rosenberg said.
Netflix has not revealed a release date for the all-new “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” Season 2.