In 1939, a man by the name of Martin Goodman founded a comic book publication company known as Timely Comics, but by the time 1961 came along, the company decided to change its name to something which is far more recognizable today-Marvel Comics. In the five decades since the official name change, Marvel has managed to create a multitude of well known superheroes, such as Spiderman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, and Captain America. These comic books feature stories involving superheroes who possess an array of different skills and powers, which they use to help those in trouble and to bring justice to evil doers, and these stories have produced so many fans around the globe that the characters in those comics are being brought to life through live-action movies and television shows.
Like every other story ever told, the protagonists in comic books always have to go up against and defeat an evil enemy, and much like the superheroes, the villains in these stories often possess their own set of unique abilities as well. One such villain is Zebediah Killgrave, who is otherwise known as The Purple Man, and this man has the power to manipulate and control the actions of other individuals through the use of pheromones produced by his body. Killgrave is actually not all that well known within the Marvel community due to his limited appearances in the comics, but thanks to Netflix, the character was brought back into the limelight when he served as the main antagonist for the show based on the Marvel hero Jessica Jones. With the Jessica Jones series heading into its second season, it seems fitting to look back at the villain who made the show’s first season so captivating, so here is list of 15 things you might not have known about the Killgrave character.
15. He Was Originally A Daredevil Villain
Thanks to Netflix’s Jessica Jones series, many people who are not well versed with Marvel’s comics believe that Killgrave is a villain primarily associated with the heroine, but in truth, that has only been the case since the early 2000s. In truth, The Purple Man was originally a villain that needed to be stopped by the blind crime fighter and fellow Defender known as Daredevil, who first debuted in the fourth issue of the Daredevil comic in October of 1964. In his first ever appearance, Killgrave uses his powers to simply walk into a bank and rob it, and once the teller realizes a robbery took place, he calls the cops who easily find Killgrave seeing as he has purple skin. Killgrave has no use for a lawyer, but is given one anyway, and the lawyer turns out to be Daredevil himself, Matt Murdock, and once he is free, he kidnaps Daredevil’s love interest Karen Page. During the rescue, Killgrave uses his powers to make civilians attack Daredevil, and nearly causes Karen to kill herself, but luckily Daredevil stops him just in time.
14. He Has Purple Children
Becoming a parent is one of the greatest joys in life, and aside from the new found responsibilities and sleepless nights, parents genuinely enjoy and love the experience; but alas this does not mean that everyone should be a parent. Killgrave is a super-villain who constantly wishes to fulfill his own desires whenever he goes out to commit crimes, and just like in both the comics and the Jessica Jones series, those desires always include women. In truth, Killgrave is a serial r*pist, and as a result, he has conceived several children with his victims, all of whom inherit and eventually manifest both his powers and purple skin, which is why he at one point gathers most of his kids together in order to turn them all into his own little army. These Purple Children debuted in 2014, and upon gathering them, Killgrave attempts to gain their unconditional love without using his own powers, which severely backfires as all of his children resist and turn on him, to the point that they use their powers to make him walk in front of an oncoming streetcar
13. Netflix Used Him To Bring Attention To Sexism & Abuse
No one can dispute the fact that the current television landscape is the best in the history of television, in terms of the pure quantity of shows and the quality associated with them, and it is because television is now so good, that we get shows dealing with comic books and superheroes. The comic book industry has delved into all sorts of storylines and themes, which is why certain comics translate so well on the small screen, and in the case of the Jessica Jones series, Netflix used Killgrave as a means to draw attention to a serious issue. Killgrave is a perfect example of sexism, as he tells women they need to smile, and views them as objects to do with whatever he pleases, which mimics behavior that real-life women have to deal with when outside. The show also uses him to draw attention to abuse, as the show makes it very clear that he controlled Jessica against her will, r*ped her multiple times, and made her thank him for it because he took her to expensive restaurants and hotels; and when she finally manages to escape from him, she needs to convince people that he actually exists, which mirrors real-life women whose abuse is not taken seriously.
12. He Is Incredibly Immoral
To be immoral, is to not conform to the accepted standards of morality, and to have an unethical and even wicked persona, and based on his actions in both the comics and the television series, Killgrave is as immoral as they come. Now to be fair, no one really knows what kind of a person Killgrave was before he gained his powers, but what we do know is that not everyone who shares his ability uses it for nefarious purposes, which means that he likely just chooses to be an evil villain. As a character, Killgrave is incredibly greedy and materialistic in nature, as he only looks for money, fancy hotels, and expensive restaurants and clothing; and he also has a massive sense of entitlement due to the fact that he can literally get everything and anything he asks for. He also believes that since his ability allows him to make anything his, he therefore automatically has the right to claim that thing for himself, whether it be an object or an actual person; but his powers also cause him some dissatisfaction because he is never quite sure if people’s actions towards him are real, or of his own creation.
11. The Alias Series Was A Turning Point For The Character
In the pantheon of Marvel villains, The Purple Man is actually considered to be a rather low-tier character, but like many underused comic book characters, he was eventually placed into a storyline that elevated him into an important and dangerous villain. The story in question came in the year 2001, when Brian Michael wrote the Alias series, which was in fact the exact inspiration of the first season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones series, as the story follows Jessica living a new life after being under Killgrave’s control. In Alias, Jessica was a heroine who went by the name Jewel, but after meeting Killgrave, she goes on to become a private investigator who suffers from an alcohol addiction. Upon meeting her, Killgrave immediately took control of her, and for months he tortured her and used her powers for his own gain; in fact things got so bad for Jessica that she could no longer differentiate her own actions from the ones implanted by Killgrave. She was finally able to free herself from his control after going into a coma following a battle with The Avengers, a fight which started after she mistakenly killed Scarlet Witch, who she confused for Daredevil who was Killgrave’s real target.
10. He Believes That Torture Is Love
Earlier on this list, the point was made that Netflix used the Killgrave character to bring attention to both sexism and abuse, which are both incredibly terrible things, but the show also brought to life the fact that his definition of love is a bit twisted. Unlike most guys, Killgrave does not ask women out on dates, instead he just uses his powers to make women do whatever he wants without their consent, which is why all of his intimate moments with women are nothing but instances of sexual assault. It is true that sexual assault is a heinous and cowardly act, but Killgrave truly believes that he is not committing any sort of crime, because he thinks that women genuinely develop feelings for him after he offers them a glimpse at a lavish lifestyle, which is what he thinks any guy would do to impress a woman. He is obviously a deranged and delusional individual, especially since he remembers things quite differently, as evidenced in Jessica Jones when at one point in their ‘relationship’ he tries to make Jessica cut off her own ear, but in his mind, that moment was nothing more than a tender kiss between the two.
9. He Comes Back After Alias
It was already mentioned that the first season of Jessica Jones was inspired by the Alias series, but in the show, Jessica’s love interest, Luke Cage, falls under Killgrave’s control, and viewers never get to see Cage get any sort of payback for being manipulated. This does not coincide with what happens in Alias though, as in that storyline Jessica only meets and gets romantically involved with Cage after she has already defeated Killgrave and put her demons to rest; but it is in a later comic that takes places in the same timeline, that Cage gets the payback that his screen adaption deserved. In an issue of New Avengers, Cage is helping to put an end to a breakout in a super-villain prison, and while there he crosses paths with Killgrave, who attempts to control him by ordering him to kill his fellow Avengers and then himself. What Killgrave did not realize though, was that the prison was drugging him in order to nullify his powers, which is why Cage was able to ignore the order and deliver a savage beating to Killgrave, which helped to avenge Jessica who at the time was now his wife.
8. He Can Literally Ruin Your Life
For a long time, The Purple Man may have not been considered to be a very threatening villain, but that does not negate the fact that he possesses a truly terrifying and powerful ability. This list has already made it quite clear that Killgrave has the ability to control people’s minds and actions, and although he usually uses these powers in order to gain money and other material things, he is also known for playing the long game, which is when his power is truly capable of destroying a person’s life. It is true, that Killgrave has left physical and mental scars on Jessica Jones and other women, but he will also try to garner certain people’s attention by going as far as making innocent people kill their own friends or family, which obviously ruins a person’s life from a personal and emotional standpoint. In the Jessica Jones series, we see another instance in which he can ruin someone’s life, and that person was Jessica’s neighbor, Malcolm, who was a great guy on his way to earning a degree in social work, but when Killgrave needed someone to spy on Jessica, he manipulated Malcolm into becoming a drug addict who needed to report to him directly in order to get his daily fix, and there is no better way to screw up a person’s life then by making them a drug addict.
7. He Was A Spy
When reading comics, it is always fun and interesting to learn just how certain characters, whether they be heroes or villains, got their superhuman abilities, and in Killgrave’s case, he got his powers while at work. In his original 1964 appearance, Killgrave reveals that prior to being a super-villain, he worked as a spy for another country, which was presumably a communist state, and while on an intelligence gathering mission at an American army depot, he was discovered by a guard. Upon seeing him, the guard pulled out his gun and started shooting, and although he missed Killgrave, he did hit a container filled with chemicals which broke and covered Killgrave with the substance inside, a substance that gave him his powers and which turned his clothes, hair and skin, purple. When more guards arrived, he quickly learned that he now had powers, as they all immediately believed him when he said he was innocent, and then allowed him to leave. The ability to control people’s actions and minds would be great for a spy, but Killgrave immediately realized that it would be more lucrative to use these abilities for his own sometimes depraved self interests.
6. In Another Universe He Is The President Of The United States
We all know that the President of the United States, is the most powerful person in the entire world, what with all of the influence and available resources that are associated with the position. The current U.S. president is someone who many around the world deem to be an unqualified, racist and sexist imbecile, and based on how much loathing and contempt he inspires within so many people, the case can he made that he would make the perfect evil president within a comic book. The thing is though, comic books have already featured super-villains as the president several times, and Killgrave was one of those villains, as he used his powers to become America’s permanent president. This was part of the Marvel 1602 storyline, which took place in an alternate universe in Elizabethan times instead of the modern day, and it mainly showed Killgrave in flashback scenes. As president, Killgrave rounded up all of the world’s superheroes, and killed them in order to prevent them from forming any sort of resistance, including Captain America, who is shot in the head and then sent back in time to the 1600s, where he survives but has no recollection of his past.
5. His Powers Gradually Increase In Strength
If someone wants to become a professional athlete, they literally need to train everyday in order to keep fit and to hone their skills, but training is not only meant for athletes though, as both superheroes and super-villains also train in order to properly control their power and to increase their ability’s strength. This does not apply to Killgrave though, as in the comics he seemingly had complete control of his powers from the very beginning, and based on the television series, and the fact that he managed to manipulate most of the United States into making him the president, the case can be made that his powers gradually become stronger as time passes. This can really be seen in the television show, as over the length of the entire season, his powers become far more effective and affect more and more people, but using these powers to their fullest puts some strain on his body, as seen by the veins in his head becoming more pronounced.
4. He Was Kidnapped By Dr. Doom
All comic book fans know that superheroes often team up together in order to take down a very powerful individual or organization, but most of the time, these partnerships are made in order to defeat a group of villains who decided to join forces. Super-villains though, are not known for being honorable individuals, which is why some of their partnerships are not always voluntary, and a perfect example of this is when Dr. Doom forcefully acquired Killgrave’s services by kidnapping him. This occurred in the 1987 graphic novel, Emperor Doom, which saw Doom abduct Killgrave, who he then sealed within a special device that both amplified his powers and kept him restrained. In this story, Doom uses Killgrave’s power to enslave the entire planet by instituting world peace, but this utopia was not as good as it sounds, seeing as Doom ruled like a fascist dictator. The Avengers were eventually able to thwart Doom’s plan, and Killgrave was able to escape, but this marked one of the only times when the Purple Man felt just as helpless as one of his victims.
3. He Has A Superhero Daughter
Earlier on this, it was mentioned that Killgrave has fathered several children in the comics through the use of his powers, and although he wanted to make those children as evil as him, there was one child in particular who actually decided to use her powers for good. At one point, Killgrave meets a woman named Melanie, who he forces into marrying him, and this union leads to the birth of their daughter Kara; and after some time, Killgrave actually falls in love with Melanie, and decides to remove his influence over her because he believes that she will now willingly love him back. This backfires on Killgrave though, as his still pregnant wife is horrified, which is why she finds a way to leave him in order to raise their daughter on her own, and free from Killgrave’s negative influence. Kara came into her powers, and her purple skin upon reaching puberty, and after learning about her father’s identity, she made sure to be nothing like him, which is why she became a superhero who has been known as either Purple Woman, Persuasion, or simply Purple Girl.
2. His Power Does Not Actually Work On Everyone
Within the Marvel universe, there exists individuals who possess all sorts of powers, ranging from super strength, to the ability to alter and control the very fabric of reality, but no matter what the superpower or ability is, there are always individuals capable of withstanding and/or countering it. Killgrave uses the pheromones produced by his body to control the minds and actions of anyone he wants, but as overpowered as this ability might appear, it cannot actually effect everyone he wants, especially since his one main obstacle is the fact that he needs to be within a certain radius for his ability to work. Aside from that though, an individual’s biology also has to be taken into account, which means that robotic beings like Vision, and certain aliens will not succumb to Killgrave’s manipulations. When it comes to people with ordinary human biology, they can also resist Killgrave through sheer will, which is why Dr. Doom and Kingpin cannot be controlled by him, and in Daredevil’s case, he cannot be controlled because he possesses heightened senses as a result of his blindness.
1. Netflix Changed His Backstory
Whether it be someone from a TV show, movie, novel, or comic book, that character needs to have some sort of decent backstory if they are to be viewed as a fleshed out and important character, and earlier on this list, it was mentioned that Killgrave already had an established backstory from the comics. When Netflix decided to make Killgrave the villain in the first season of Jessica Jones, the showrunners decided to make several changes to his backstory, changes which for some reason included removing an L from his name. In the show, Killgrave did not gain his powers while on one of his spy missions, instead, he gained them as a child as a result of an experiment conducted by his parents to cure him of a degenerative neurological disorder. In the comics, his real name is actually Zebediah Killgrave, but in the show his name is Kevin Thompson, and the show also alters his powers a bit by having his body release a virus instead of pheromones. The show also made The Purple Man far less purple, as they removed the purple hair and skin associated with the character in the comics, and instead just gave him purple clothes and lighting cues.