13 October 2015
Its Comic-Con time in New York and surprising news from the Marvel Universe had Marvel fans collectively gasped twice over the weekend.
The first time was when the crowd was told they were about to see a surprise screening of the entire first episode of the upcoming Netflix series 'Marvel's Jessica Jones'.
The second? When the title character got screwed doggy-style... by another woman.
In fact, the entire episode was shockingly and refreshingly honest in its depiction of sex and sexuality — especially compared to the rest of Marvel's cinematic and televised output, which tends to be heterosexual and very vanilla on the rare occasions when it dares to go a bit queer.
The first episode of Jessica Jones doesn't go public until November 20th — and though we avoid major spoilers, you should turn back now if you want to go into the series knowing nothing.
Before we get into the wild romp that comes halfway through the episode, let's talk about the show's less eyebrow-raising but equally fascinating choices on sexual matters. Perhaps most notably, the show gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe its first lesbian character — and possibly its first queer lead.
Carrie-Anne Moss plays Jeri Hogarth, a high-powered lawyer who hires the titular Jessica (a super-humanly strong private eye) to serve a subpoena to a heavily guarded club owner. While the women discuss the job during a late-night phone-call, a young woman slinks up behind the glamorous Jeri and begins nuzzling and nibbling her neck. Just a few scenes later, we find out that this encounter is an affair, and that Jeri's cheating on her female partner.
Later in the episode, Jessica is in need of cash and, after dark, drops in to see a wealthy erstwhile companion named Trish. Neither character says it outright, but the brief interaction heavily implies that they used to be a romantic item. There's talk of how Jessica used to discuss her most closely guarded emotional struggles until she pushed Trish away, there's a palpable and melancholy attraction in their gazes, and there's a sweet surrender to financial kindness on Trish's part that is usually reserved for concerned former lovers.
To date, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never shown us openly gay women. Indeed, the only depictions of non-straight characters in Marvel's shared universe have been a recent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that reveals a bit player to be gay and a regrettable, Blu-Ray-only short feature that shows Sam Rockwell's Iron Man 2 villain alluding to having sex in prison.
Unlike those minor beats, Jessica Jones's queer relationship scenes are clearly integral to the internal lives of major characters, and are not played for laughs or for shock value. They're sad, sweet, and subtle.