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.