Comic Book Casting: The ALIAS / AKA JESSICA JONES TV Series

It  wasn’t the first comic to show someone on the outside of the superhero biz looking in, but the early 2000s series Alias did it in a modern context with a heavy dose of crime that makes it memorable to this day. In was one of the series that Marvel’s current preeminent writer Brian Michael Bendis first made his name, and the lead character Jessica Jones lives on to this day as a member of the Avengers team.

With Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009, the new owner were quick to review the House of Ideas’ immense catalog to find potential cross-platform successes not just in movies but television as well. One of the first properties Marvel’s new TV division focused in on was Alias. Although it quickly went under a name change to the tentative title of AKA Jessica Jones to avoid confusion with the earlier TV series Alias, whatever shape this project finally becomes it’ll be a dramatically different kind of comics-to-TV adaptation.

Although a TV series has been in active development for almost a year, they’re still reportedly finalizing a script and treatment for the series and no casting decisions has been made yet. While I wait for Jeph Loeb to ask, here’s how I think the series should look and who it should star.

The Concept:

Embittered former 3-rd-string super-hero tries to do crime-fighting the old fashioned way as a private detective square in the Marvel U? Genius, but also a concept that would have never been given room to work before the Jemas/Quesada regime took over at Marvel. Television has undergone that same maturation thanks to shows like The Sopranos, and AKA Jessica Jones could work on television as a classic crime procedural with the twist only a Marvel backdrop could provide.  Earlier this month word came out that the series would indeed be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe set-up by the Marvel-produced films, and that makes it even more interesting. While some properties like Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil and Ghost Rider might be off-limits, Jessica Jones still has the full Avengers umbrella to play under as well as some of the darker corners of the Marvel U.

The key to the TV series is to start off small; remember, part of the enjoyment of Alias was uncovering the truth behind Jones’ past. In a TV series, set it up as Jessica Jones going solo into this new line-of-work but having to resort to her old hero connections to get the business going. Maybe trade out her fling with Scott Lang for someone more readily available, and lead into Luke Cage being a repeat guest star that shakes things up. Just like the comic the overarching villain would be the Purple Man (even if they opt not to give him purple skin), but the majority of Jessica’s day-to-day and episode-to-episode story would be about the intersection between capes and crime. While A-Listers like Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson might be a bit much to come into TV, bringing in smaller characters like Agent Coulson and others could firmly integrate the series. Hell, letting Jessica Jones cameo in the upcoming The Avengers movie would be a excellent lead-in.

The Creative Masterminds:

Marvel’s already enlisted writer/producer Melissa Rosenberg to plan out the nuts-and-bolts of this project, and although her best known work (the Twilight saga) has pigeon-holed her a bit in the eyes of fans she also worked on early seasons of Dexter. I understand bringing Rosenberg in given her female-centric story chops on Twilight, but when it comes time to translate her scripts to television I’d reel in writer/showrunner Ted Griffin (Terriers) to make the world real. The mix of Rosenberg and Griffin could create a real dynamite synthesis to make AKA Jessica Jones work.

And don’t think I wouldn’t also bring in series co-creator Brian Michael Bendis to contribute to the writing, but I’d also consider bringing in other comic writers versed in crime such as Ed Brubaker and David Lapham.

The Cast:

Jessica Jones – Jaime Ray Newman: Don’t blame yourself if her name draws a blank from you. Unless you watched Eureka or Veronica Mars she’s little more than a guest star on television shows, but Newman is a star in the making that could make the role of Jessica Jones her own. Plus she grew up in Detroit, so give her that.

Luke Cage – Lance Gross: I got some guff when I suggested comedy actor Lance Gross should play Luke Cage in my previous Comic Book Casting: The Luke Cage Series, but I stand my decision and carry that forward here. Gross is young, in shape, and most importantly can act and deliver one-liners — all things you need to play Power Man.

The Purple Man – Robert Knepper: One of the foremost modern-day character actors, Robert Knepper became known for his role as T-Bag Bagwell in Prison Break and was a scene-stealer even when the series started going downhill. He’s since played in Heroes and as the central villain in Transporter 3, and could really skeeve up the place as Zebediah Killgrave / The Purple Man, so much that his face wouldn’t even need the purple make-up to be off-putting.


  1. Good casting. I do want to see this show, I don’t mind if it’s for network television

  2. The Old Spice Guy has stated that Luke Cage is his dream role.

  3. I like jones and purpleman but micheal jai white,is good for a tv luke cage

  4. I’ve got nothing against Lance Gross, but if they play Luke Cage a little older I’d go for Rockmond Dunbar (of the short-lived but excellent FX series Terriers, and currently on Sons of Anarchy).

  5. Knepper really would make a perfect Purple Man.