Why Kilgrave is Scary
Finished Jessica Jones last night. I’m very happy Netflix is doing Marvel shows.
What I’m struck most by in JJ is how absolutely terrifying Kilgrave is. I’ve seen villains I love to hate (Prince Joffrey, Dolores Umbridge), but it’s rare for a genre thing to dish out a truly terrifying villain. The reason why? JJ does something genre fiction rarely does nowadays:
Kilgrave uses his powers on ordinary people, in ordinary places.
The guy doesn’t terrorize an entire city to make some abstract point about humanity. He doesn’t exist in some Norse sci-fi dimension. He’s a dude that goes into people’s homes and uses them until they die. Every one of his victims is a home invasion movie where the protagonists have no hope of escape.
And it’s not like there’s some grand scheme he’s up to. He just wants what he wants - power, women, riches. Villains in genre fiction have long been up to things so huge and abstract that they can’t make us feel vulnerable.* Who cares that Loki wants to take over the Earth? How does that relate to me? It doesn’t.
But Kilgrave could show up at my door, and my life instantly twists into a nightmare.
*For the most egregious offenders of scope creep, watch some spy movies. Their cat-and-mouse scenarios with secret bases and huge action sequences are so far outside of normalcy that when they say they’re ‘saving the world,’ it sounds like hand waving. What world? There’s not a single moment in any Bond film that is relatable to anyone viewing it. Unless you hang out on a beach and have sick abs.
That’s not to say spy films don’t rule. They just can’t justify their worlds anymore.