Marvel wastes absolutely no time. Yesterday, the company announced the perfect match of Drew Goddard and Daredevil, and a mere six hours later they had already moved on to the next couple – Melissa Rosenberg and Jessica Jones. Rosenberg (according to Deadline) will act as writer and executive producer for the second TV show released in Marvel’s gargantuan deal with Netflix, after Daredevil and before Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the superhero combo platter that is The Defenders.
Yet neither Rosenberg nor Jessica Jones have the kind of name recognition that Goddard and Daredevil have. Let’s rectify that. Jessica Jones is a fairly recent addition to the Marvel canon, having first premiered in the 2001 comic book Alias. Like so many other superheroes, a freak accident and a few barrels of radioactive ooze left her with superpowers- enhanced strength and the ability to fly (somewhat; taking off is easy, landing not so much). After a brief stint with a silver bodysuit, pink hair, and the alter-ego “Jewel,” Jones retired from the superhero lifestyle. Now a bundle of nerves, self-doubt and post-traumatic stress, she works as a private detective, working vaguely superhero-related investigations and eventually marrying her Netflix comrade, Luke Cage.
Rosenberg lacks the super-strength, but bears a similar traumatic past. After working as a writer and producer on a number of TV shows- Dexter, The O.C. and the short-lived DC Comics series Birds of Prey, Rosenberg penned the screenplays for all five Twilight films. So what makes Rosenberg the right fit for the sparkle-free Marvel universe? The obvious answer is that a few years ago, Rosenberg and Marvel pitched a Jessica Jones series to ABC, although the network eventually passed on the project. Now that Marvel’s got another use for Jones, it’s picking up where it left off and Rosenberg’s along for the ride.
The association of Twilight and Marvel is sure to make some fans cringe. But it’s not the end of the world, nor is it proof that Jessica Jones will be a Twilight-level disaster. One has to realize just what Rosenberg was dealing with in adapting the Twilight novels for the screen. Take a passage like this:
“Even more, I had never meant to love him. One thing I truly knew – knew it in the pit of my stomach, in the center of my bones, knew it from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, knew it deep in my empty chest – was how love gave someone the power to break you.”
“He leaned in slowly, the beeping noise accelerated wildly before his lips even touched me. But when they did, though with the most gentle of pressure, the beeping stopped altogether.”
Or even this:
“Edward had drawn many careful lines for our physical relationship, with the intent being to keep me alive. Though I respected the need for maintaining a safe distance between my skin and his razor-sharp, venom-coated teeth, I tended to forget about trivial things like that when he was kissing me.”
So yes, the Twilight films may be skull-splittingly moronic (and I would know, having been forced to sit through two of them), and Rosenberg’s scripts may themselves be awful. But in the source material, a baby named “Renesmee” is delivered via vampire-fang C-section, and immediately afterwards an adult werewolf falls in love with said baby. Holding Rosenberg to blame for any aspect of the Twilight films is an exercise in shooting the messenger; nothing more.
Then there’s Rosenberg’s other work. Birds of Prey (which featured Huntress, Oracle and the telepathic Dinah Lance) was more than little ridiculous and more than a little terrible. Just look at the clip below to see for yourself:
But despite the dangerously cheesy footage directly above, female superheroes are still a rare find in the live-action world. Rosenberg’s experience with Birds of Prey and her continued efforts to get Jessica Jones off the air make her one of the top names in super-powered TV women. And besides, Birds of Prey aired on WB ten years ago- it couldn’t have gotten through without being at least a little goofy.
Dexter, on the other hand, tends to get a bad rap, and undeservedly so. Sure, the latter half of the series descended into soap-opera garbage, and its lonely lumberjack ending will probably go down as one of the worst series finales of all time. But in its early years, Dexter was nothing short of brilliant- and it’s Rosenberg who wrote some of the series’ most stellar episodes. “Born Free,” the Rosenberg-penned season one finale, finds Dexter confronting his secret long-lost brother and his horrifying emotional trauma in one tightly packed hour. Alias, the comic that brought Jessica Jones into the world, ends on essentially the same note, with Jessica combating the super-villain who first left her with PTSD. Then you’ve got the season four finale, “The Getaway.” There, Dexter takes down the series’ nastiest villain, John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer, after an extended game of cat-and-mouse. There’s always been a slight superheroic bent to Dexter, with its hero as a darkly-tinged vigilante and its villains approaching superhuman levels of creepy. Now some of that premium cable grit can extend into the Marvel universe, providing Jessica Jones with some seriously unpleasant super-villains.
Maybe Melissa Rosenberg wrote the screenplays for each Twilight film. Maybe each one was, and still is, and affront to mankind. But as the rest of her filmography clearly demonstrates, Jessica Jones is still in very capable hands.