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Even though Jessica Jones is out of the superhero business, she’ll still be forced to deal with supervillains once her Netflix series kicks off. Chief among them will be Kilgrave, who comic book fans know as the Purple Man (who put her through unbearable mental anguish). Played by Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant, Kilgrave will be the show’s main antagonist, but beyond being just someone for Jessica to fight, Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb has now said that the villain will be just as key to the series as the eponymous protagonist.
Loeb has assured fans that Kilgrave will have the same degree of prominence in Jessica Jones that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk had in Daredevil Season 1, and gave some insight to Indiewire about what the relationship between the hero and her adversary will be like. Loeb said:
In the same kind of way Vincent D’Onofrio owned his half of Daredevil, you’ll see David Tennant own his half of Jessica Jones... What you get out of Jessica is a sort of hold-your-breath tension as to what’s going to happen. When you see the dynamic between Krysten Ritter and David Tennant... that question of 'What’s going to happen next?' and 'What could happen next?' and how that’s driven by character is something that is so important to not just the scripts but also the way the show is shot, and the way that everyone reacts, and the way those two react with each other.
Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg previously described the series as a “psychological thriller,” meaning that while it won’t be quite as action packed as Daredevil, there will still be plenty of moments featuring suspense and thrills in the drama. Kilgrave will likely be responsible for many of these moments, given his unusual power: being able to control people using his body’s chemical pheromones. Loeb’s statement also implies that Kilgrave, like Daredevil's Fisk, will be a villain that the audience will love to hate. In addition, we'll likely learn about his motivations and why he’s done such horrible things.
Although Purple Man started out as a Daredevil villain, it was in the 2001 series Alias (the comic book, not the Jennifer Garner TV series) that a connection was formed between him and Jessica Jones. During her tenure as the superhero Jewel, Purple Man used his ability kidnap and psychologically torture her for several months. Kilgrave will have put Jessica through a similar kind of trauma before the TV series kicks off, prompting her to give up her life as a superhero and become a private investigator like her comic book counterpart. When he shows up in her life again, Jessica will be forced to face her former captor and deal with the repercussions of his return.
Fans will see Jessica and Kilgrave’s relationship on the small screen when Jessica Jones premieres sometime later this year on Netflix.