Fannish Trepidation

Trigger Warning: This post mentions the sexual assault and sexual manipulation of fictional characters.


I fucking love David Tennant. I think he’s a brilliant actor who can play not only a wide range, but play a wide range believably. Whereas with certain other actors, they play a certain role and then that is all I ever see them as–or I can’t see them as any character, only the actor–David Tennant has made me really see him as every character he’s played. At least, that I’ve seen. When I watch Broadchurch, I don’t see the Doctor. He’s good. He’s also incredibly handsome, which is a plus.

I also fucking love Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the greatest cinematic experiences of my life, even with its numerous flaws. I’m impressed with the scale they’ve established and somehow manage to maintain. I love the Marvel TV shows. I’m one of the few people who actually watches Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter religiously. When Netflix picked up Daredevil I was cautiously intrigued and then incredibly excited. I’ve been looking forward to the release of their other Marvel titles, like Luke Cage and Iron Fist, leading up to a Defenders series.

So, when it was announced that David Tennant was signed on to play Zebediah Killgrave (aka Purple Man) in the Jessica Jones series, I was ecstatic. I’ve checked the internet daily looking for news of the release date and when the trailer was finally released I watched it a million times.

But, as November 20th looms closer, I find myself a little nervous.

*comic spoilers ahead*

See, Purple Man is a bad, bad dude. If you’re not well versed in comic lore, he is in possession of incredibly powerful mind-control abilities. Abilities which he frequently uses to take advantage of women.

Zebediah Killgrave is a rapist.

He uses his mind control to force a woman named Melanie to marry him. While she is under his control, he fathers a child, Kara Killgrave, with her (who later becomes Purple Girl aka Persuasion aka the Purple Woman).

He uses his powers to enslave Jessica Jones. This enslavement involves a sexual aspect, right from the beginning.

Killgrave is not a good dude.

Here is my growing concern: Fandom is going to Loki the shit out of Zebediah Killgrave.

Allow me to elaborate. Loki is a villain in the MCU. Or at least, he started out that way. For all his tragic backstory, Loki is a petulant child who has tried twice to either destroy or enslave humanity, tried multiple times to kill Thor, put my child Hawkeye under mind control… Loki is an asshole, and I’m saying that as a member of Loki’s Army.

And before I move on let me say this: Yes, Loki’s backstory is tragic. Even more so in the MCU because he always seems so sad. But, most villains have a tragic backstory–it is their failure to properly handle their tragedy which usually turns them into villains. They still make the choice to become the bad guys.

Loki is also portrayed by the ridiculously attractive Tom Hiddleston. Do not think for one second that Hiddleston being sexy does not greatly contribute to Loki’s fandom appeal. If they had gone with a more comic-style approach to his appearance–the withered, almost goblin-like face of comic-book Loki–he would not have nearly the following he does. Fans would not flock like seagulls to defend his atrocious behavior. Loki has, arguably, a bigger following than any of the good guys in the whole MCU.

And David Tennant, like Mr. Hiddleston, has a rabid, devoted fandom.

I’m concerned that, because Killgrave is being played by this phenomenal actor who is, let’s be honest, also ridiculously good looking, people are going to overlook his awful, awful nature. I’m worried that Zebediah Killgrave will be held up on the same pedestal that Loki found himself on.

I am absolutely terrified that people are going to be swooning over a walking, talking roofie. I’m nervous that fandom is going to defend the rapist as “just misunderstood” and “in desperate need of a hug.” I’m sick just thinking about the posts that will find their way through the Tumblr hive mind.

“He wouldn’t need to use mind control on me!”

“I would be his sex slave any day!”

I’m not saying that no one should like the character. If Jessica Jones keeps with Marvel tradition, he will be a villain with depth. He will have a type of humanity which makes him relatable. Human characters are the most interesting, after all. He will, undoubtedly, be an interesting and possibly even begrudgingly likable character.

But liking a character does not excuse their actions, especially when that action is sexual assault.

I saw it happen with Liev Schreiber in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (sorry; I know Marvel fandom all agreed that movie didn’t happen, but I need to make a point). There was a scene where Sabretooth throws a terrified young woman onto a bed and prepares to rape her, before Wolverine stops him.

That clip was giffed and the captions I saw were sickening. The most memorable of which were, “What is wrong with her? Why wouldn’t you want to fuck him?!” and “She should consider herself lucky!”

Please, fandom, I am begging you: Do not do this to Purple Man. Do not look at the attractive actor and excuse or eroticize his actions. Please remember, this man is evil and a rapist.

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6 thoughts on “Fannish Trepidation

    • I agree completely. In the past, Netflix original series have handled sexual assault fairly gracefully (at least on the shows I’ve seen), but ultimately it comes down to the writers. So, yea, I’m definitely cautious about how that will be handled.

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  1. Hell, there are still plenty of women who love Ward from Agents of SHIELD and want him to be redeemed and to hook up with Skye and live happily ever after, even though the writers have gone out of their way to make it clear Ward is a deluded, sociopathic, evil bastard. And Ward has even less going for him than Loki.

    So, yeah, Killgrave is going to get way too many fangirls. There’s nothing the show can do to stop that. Absolutely nothing. They got an attractive, charismatic actor to play the role, so a certain segment of the audience will refuse to believe he could actually be a bad guy.

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    • I’m honestly much more comfortable with characters like Loki and Ward having fangirls than I am with Killgrave. Even though Loki and Ward are homicidal psychopathic narcissists, even they haven’t crossed that line into violating another person in such a way (though Ward is kind of iffy now, considering the intense physical and psychological torture he subjected Bobbi to).

      I guess I’m less concerned with fans liking the character and more concerned with fans using that affection for the character to overlook and even glamorize rape, the way I saw done with that Sabertooth scene in Origins.

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  2. Reblogged this on Death By Keystroke and commented:

    Sorry for having been completely MIA the past few months. I haven’t really felt much like writing and the stuff that I have written I’m so appalled by that I can’t even bring myself to post it.

    But, I did write this. I debated on whether I wanted to post it here or to my personal blog and ultimately decided it would fit better on my personal blog than it would here. I’m still trying to figure this whole “multiple blogs” thing out. I was never much good at it.

    So, check this out, if you feel so inclined. It’s a little piece on my nervousness about the upcoming Jessica Jones series on Netflix and how fandom will probably glamorize Killgrave, which will make me overwhelmingly horrified. Enjoy!

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  3. Pingback: Let’s Talk About Jessica Jones…Again. | Diary of a Compulsive List Maker

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