Who is the Purple Man? Let’s break down the comics history of the creepy villain, played by David Tennant, bound for Marvel’s upcoming Netflix series, Jessica Jones.
Who is the Purple Man?
Like many other Marvel villains that were created in the company’s early days, Zebediah Killgrave — soon to be the Purple Man — was tied closely to Communism. (For those scratching your heads right now, read the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man back in the 1960s where Spidey calls the Chameleon a “dirty commie”). Also like many other villains, Killgrave received his powers from an experimental mishap of sorts. Being hired by “Big Red” to steal a new nerve gas created by the U.S. army, Zebediah attempted to flee with the canister, only to be fired upon and have the gas blow up in his face. When captured and questioned by the government, Zeb gives a rather shoddy explanation as to why he was stealing the gas, and is released. Soon, he finds that not only does he have strange new abilities, but he is also completely purple. Thus, he decides to come up with the most obvious supervillain moniker of all time, and the Purple Man is born!
For the most part, the Purple Man has been a villain for all seasons. He hasn’t been the main antagonist for one particular hero, but rather, has bounced around the Marvel universe, causing trouble for whichever hero he stumbles upon. More often than not though, he’s found himself in the path of one Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil. As is also the case with many other villains in the Marvel roster, as time went on, Killgrave became darker and much more sinister in his methods and madness. But above everything else, Zeb looks at himself as a suave businessman, so he never really goes hand-to-hand with any of the heroes he faces. He’ll usually hang back in the shadows until he needs to get close to someone in order for his powers to take effect …
How Scary Can a Purple Man Be?
So what can a villain named the “Purple Man” do exactly? Change things he touches to the color purple? Fire off purple energy beams from his hands? Actually, the Purple Man’s abilities make him one of the scarier villains in the comic book universe, as he can literally take control of anyone who is near him. Killgrave exerts pheromones that cause anyone within his general vicinity to do whatever he says: attack a nearby hero, rob a bank, or even something so heinous that it causes one hero to retire, which we’ll touch upon later. Once some distance is achieved, though, the effects wear off and normalcy returns, so most heroes will play the long game with him.
Aside from just being far away from the guy, heroes and villains with exceptionally strong will can overcome the Purple Man’s control, which can allow for some great scenes from folks like Dr. Doom, who manages to out-badass Killgrave:
Zeb also has some level of accelerated healing factor that doesn’t get referenced that often. Ultimately, he’s a perfect villain for some of the more street-level heroes that will be found in the upcoming Marvel Netflix series, and with the recent news of his casting, sure to be a welcome addition to the roster of characters.
The Purple Man’s Relationship to Jessica Jones
So where does the Purple Man find himself in the upcoming A.K.A. Jessica Jones? For one, we’re actually not entirely sure as to whether or not he will be, in fact, purple. He’s been referenced as Killgrave, but no mention as to whether or not he’ll have purple skin or the same powers he has in the comics. The Purple Man is the main antagonist of the series, though, and has a terrifying impact on the life of Jessica. For those who many not know the background of Jessica Jones, she was at one time a superhero called “Jewel,” who decides, after encountering Killgrave, that the life of being a hero is not for her, and instead becomes a cynical private investigator.
The reason for her change into a private eye is that when she first met Killgrave, he held control over her for months. While the gory details of what exactly he makes her do during that time are never fully revealed, it’s clear that they’re horrible, given the impact they had on poor Jessica. David Tennant will take a villainous role here that he’s not entirely unfamiliar with, as he played the slithering Barty Crouch, Jr., in the Harry Potter series, but it may come as a shock for certain fans to see the Ninth Doctor from Doctor Who in such a terrifying portrayal.
The Purple Man adds both star power and a sense of dread to Marvel’s upcoming Netflix casting, and I’m looking forward to seeing this character brought to life on the small screen. All episodes of Jessica Jones will be available to stream on November 20th on Netflix.