Last week, leaked audition footage from A.K.A. Jessica Jones, the second Netflix original series from Marvel Studios (after Daredevil), led many to speculate that one of the show's key villains would be Zebediah Killgrave, also known as the Purple Man. The character played a key role in the Jessica Jones comic Alias, and his encounters with Jones were a big part of why she chose to give up superheroics and turn to a life as a private detective. Well, it turns out the character is indeed in the series, and now we know who's playing him.
Marvel announced today that Doctor Who star David Tennant will play Kilgrave (yes, that's the spelling they gave) in the upcoming series, joining a cast that already includes Krysten Ritter as Jones and Mike Colter as Luke Cage. We don't know how much of the "Purple Man" persona this version of the character will retain, but the announcement describes him as "an enigmatic figure from Jessica's past" whose "reappearance will send shockwaves through the former super hero's world," so it sounds like at least some parts of his Alias arc are being preserved here.
In the comics, Kilgrave is a former spy who was exposed to chemicals that turned his skin purple and granted him the ability to make people do whatever he wished. In Alias, he uses this power to psychologically torture and brainwash Jessica, which ultimately drives her to give up being a superhero. Again, we don't know how far down that road Marvel Studios will walk, but it could mean Jessica Jones is set to be one of the studio's darkest efforts yet.
Though Ritter and Colter have definitely made names for themselves in recent years, Tennant now eclipses them both as the biggest star to join the series so far. He's best known for Doctor Who, of course, but he's kept very busy since leaving the TARDIS, and recently he's made a triumphant return to TV with the acclaimed British crime drama Broadchurch, now in its second season. Plus, even though he's a nerd hero, we also know he can play scary, so seeing him as a villain again is bound to be fun.
“I'm so honored and excited by the prospect of David inhabiting this multifaceted character,” showrunner Melissa Rosenberg said. “He can deliver the most heart-wrenching moment to the driest of lines, and all points in between. He'll make Kilgrave a truly original villain."
A.K.A. Jessica Jones is set to premiere sometime later this year, following Marvel's Daredevil series.