When I met with Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter recently in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, she wanted to first focus on a different show. The trailer for the second season of Luke Cage, a series that takes place in the same New York City in which Jones walks, had just dropped. “It’s on Mike’s Instagram,” she says of her co-star and friend, Mike Colter, who plays Cage. She invites me to watch it, too. Curious about the next Marvel show myself, I accept. “That’s awe-some,” she enthuses as the trailer’s closing lines — “Get paid black man, get paid!” — boom from her iPhone speaker.
Of course I said yes. Why wouldn’t I want to watch a Marvel trailer with an actual Marvel hero? The alternative — saying no — would be awkward, as I’d stand there hearing bad guy grunts and old school hip-hop out of her iPhone for thirty seconds. But mostly, I didn’t want to say no to Jessica Jones. Because Ritter’s real life superpower, I discover, is the ability to command a room.
How does Krysten Ritter become Jessica Jones? Practice, practice, practice — and anger.
“I think there is an anger and frustration that is lying dormant in everybody,” Ritter tells Inverse, her phone now on silent. “Jessica is outwardly expressing that anger. The physical stuff helps me. When Jessica punches somebody, she’s very powerful. That translates and gets into my blood.”
On Thursday, the hard-drinking, take-no-shit Ritter returns as Jessica Jones in the second season of the Netflix series. Picking up where the The Defenders leaves off, the superpowered private investigator Jones is barely putting up with her newfound fame. In the first episode, when a child excitedly asks, “Are you a vigilante superhero?” Jessica rolls her eyes, “Oh for Christ’s sake.”
Ritter knows being a superhero matters to young girls and women. In 2015, when Jessica Jones debuted on Netflix, the series took the TV genre into new territory: A power fantasy that dealt directly with trauma, PTSD, and sexual abuse. In Season 1, she confronted her abuser, Kilgrave (David Tennant), who used his own hypnosis super-power to essentially gaslight his victims.