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|“||I'd make her want me. Then reject her. Devastate her over and over and over until she wants to die... No, I won't give her that, either. She'd wither away like someone dying of thirst or starvation. Be a certain ring of hell, designed specially for her... Or maybe I'll just kill her.||„|
|~ Kilgrave referencing Jessica Jones.|
Kilgrave (real name Kevin Thompson) is the main antagonist of the first season of the Netflix hit series, Marvel's Jessica Jones. Born with a brain disorder, he was tested on by his scientist parents who were able to save him but in the process he gained mind controlling abilities. When coming across Jessica Jones, he became obsessed with her until Jones broke free from his power, prompting Thompson to try to kill her.
As a child, Kevin Thompson developed a brain disease that required constant treatment. His parents, Albert and Louise, would put him through countless operations in order to fix what's wrong with him; Kevin came to resent his parents due to their focus on their work in the scientific field and never showing him any affection. At some point, his treatments and all the drugs he'd been given or injected with came together and resulted in him developing the power of mind-control, being able to say a few words to someone and they would be forced to listen to him. However, he later discovered that he would have to be specific about what he says, lest his powers give off an unintended result; in his adult life, he claimed that he once told a man to "go screw himself", which had an unforeseen, but unspecified, consequence.
By the time he was 10, his powers would allow him to make his parents his slaves, unwilling to let them out of his control. He developed a complete lack of empathy from all this, caring only for himself and no-one else. He once ordered his mother to burn herself in the face with an iron, scarring her permanently. They eventually escaped Kevin somehow, leaving him to fend for himself for the next 20 years. He came to call himself "Kilgrave" during this time, using his powers to get what he wanted from others.
He eventually witnesses fellow superhuman Jessica Jones fighting off crooks in New York City, followed by two random women who were under his control. Seeing her fend off the crooks from Malcolm Ducasse, Kilgrave became fascinated by her powers. She claimed that she was trying to be a hero like the Avengers, the super-powered group that saved New York from the Chitauri some time ago; Kilgrave struggled not to laugh at her words. He then tells her to smile, which she does, and takes her under his control, ordering her to join him for dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Riku. They left, with Malcolm still bleeding on the pavement and helpless to save Jessica.
As the months went by, Kilgrave kept Jessica around as his prisoner and seemed to see her as his true love; however, Jessica, knowing that this wasn't a real relationship, resented him for it, being forced to do things like care for him and have sex with him. Every time that Trish Walker, Jessica's foster sister, would try to make contact with her, Kilgrave would make Jessica say that everything was fine, not wanting Trish to get in the way. One day, as a test, he gave her no orders for 12 hours, the amount of time it takes to break his control. He finds himself surprised to learn that she decided to stick around, and assumed that she now loved him; however, he then sees her standing over a balcony and he orders her to step down, which she does. She starts to question why she didn't obey him before; Kilgrave, afraid that she was going to escape him, tells her to cut off her ears, saying that there's no point in having ears if she won't listen. She started obeying him again in order to preserve her ears and her life, and he hugged her for it.
On January 20, 2014, Kilgrave somehow learned that Reva Connors, a woman who worked at Seagate Prison at one point, had somehow came into possession of a thumb drive containing videos of himself being treated as a child. Wanting to keep this a secret, he finds Reva and orders her to take him to where the thumb drive is. In a warehouse, Kilgrave, Reva and Jessica stand over a spot where the drive had been buried; Kilgrave orders Jessica to use her strength to dig it out, which she does, but not before her hands are covered in concrete, dirt and her own blood. The three stepped outside with the thumb drive, which also had information about other children that were experimented on; Kilgrave, not wanting Reva to tell anyone about what happened here, orders Jessica to kill her, which she does by punching her hard enough to break her ribs and stop her heart, killing her with a single blow. Jessica walks over to the body while Kilgrave looks on with no emotion. He orders Jessica to leave with him; however, much to his surprise and horror, Jessica resisted him, walking away. Kilgrave yells "Get back here, Jessica!", but she keeps ignoring him. Jessica continued to walk away from the scene despite Kilgrave's orders. Following Jessica onto the street while furiously demanding that she returns to him, Kilgrave ended up being hit by a bus, driven by a drunk driver, and was knocked into the gutter. Jessica refuses to do anything about it, now free from him, and leaves while Kilgrave is left behind. Jessica later assumes him to be dead.
However, despite his serious injuries, Kilgrave survived. Using his mind control power on an ambulance driver, he escaped from the scene. The ambulance driver was found three weeks later, having almost died after having been forced to donate both his kidneys. Kilgrave, who had lost a kidney due to Crush Syndrome, had forced a doctor to transplant the kidney to himself without being put under anesthesia. Although the doctor told him that a man can perfectly survive with one kidney, Kilgrave forced him to proceed, as he wanted to be whole.
Revealing his survival
After having escaped from Kilgrave, Jessica is constantly tortured by hallucinations about him.
When a couple comes to Jessica to employ her to search for their daughter Hope, Jessica finds out that the daughter left everything she had for an unidentified man. Going after the clues she recognizes that the man's behaviour follows the same pattern Kilgrave had when Jessica was under his control, for example a one month anniversary dinner. Jessica realizes that despite having seen him die and having seen his death certificate, Kilgrave is still alive and has sent the couple to bring Jessica on his trace.
Knowing the pattern, Jessica goes to the hotel where she expects to find Hope and she indeed discovers her there. She asks Hope whether Kilgrave is there which Hope denies. However, as Kilgrave told her not to move, Hope has to be forcefully removed from the hotel room by Jessica. Jessica reunites Hope with her parents, but tells them that the kidnapper escaped and to take their daughter home as fast as possible. However, while leaving the apartment through the elevator, Hope kills her parents, which was an order implanted by Kilgrave. When Jessica runs downstairs and arrives before the elevator, she sees Hope with a catatonic expression. Hope then tells Jessica to smile, which refers to a situation where Kilgrave told her the exact same thing. Realizing that the couple had to die just out of Kilgrave's spite, Jessica decides to hunt down her old nemesis.
Investigated by Jessica
|“||I'm gonna be your guest here indefinitely. You'll be delighted... Children should be seen and not heard. Or better still, not seen and not heard. Get into that closet.||„|
|~ Kilgrave using his mind control powers on a family.|
When visiting Hope, who has been sent to prison, Hope reveals to her that Kilgrave made her jump as high as she could for hours, however Kilgrave told her that she never was as good as Jessica. Jessica tells Hope that none of this is her fault, to which Hope replies that it's Jessica's. Kilgrave told her that Jessica left him to die and that she should have waited until he had. She tells Jessica that Kilgrave is mad at Jessica and wants to get revenge by making her suffer as he did. Before Jessica is forced to leave, because Hope is too distraught, Hope tells Jessica that she would be better off killing herself. To save Hope from being sentenced to lifetime incarceration, Jessica tries to bring the powerful attorney Jeri Hogarth to play as a defender for Hope. However, Jeri first asks for proof that Kilgrave exists.Jessica finds the man who drove the ambulance car after Kilgrave's accident and visits him, finding out that he had a stroke after having been forced to donate both of his kidneys to Kilgrave. However, he was gifted a very expensive dialyses machine by an anonymous donor. Jessica uses the machine as a lead and continues her investigation on Kilgrave. Listening to the doctor who forged Kilgrave's death certificate during a lecture he is holding, she is forced to run after him when he sprints out of the room to escape. When she eventually corners him, the doctor tells Jessica that Kilgrave was obsessed with her and had pictures of her with him. The doctor then tells Jessica about how he was forced to transplant the driver's kidneys to Kilgrave. Jessica then forces the man to tell all this to Hogarth, who becomes Hope's attorney.
At the end of the episode, Kilgrave uses his mind control to invite himself into the house of a family indefinitely, having returned to the city for Jessica. After confining both children to the closet, Kilgrave sits down at the dinner table and is served by the homeowners.
|“||First-time caller, long-time listener. Trish, I want to applaud your courage. You've always been a hero to the downtrodden. Self-preservation be damned. It's admirable. But my question is, if there really is a man with the abilities you've described, someone who could make anyone, anywhere, do whatever he wanted them to do... seems to me that insulting him would be wildly dangerous. Or, let's just say it, stupid in the extreme. Everyone has feelings, even, um, how did you put it? Sadistic, corrosive men. Are you worried he might, I don't know, make you kill yourself? Or worse? I'll take my answer off the air.||„|
|~ Kilgrave calls Trish|
Having learned from the doctor that surgical anesthesia knocks out Kilgrave's power, Jessica makes it her next objective to get some.
When Jessica persuades her adoptive sister Trish to talk to Hope in her radio talk show, Trish states that she thinks that Kilgrave is real, a sick, perverted man who is preying on the hopeless. Jessica intervenes, knowing that Kilgrave is listening and most likely furious about what he hears. When listening to answers from the people listening, Trish is suddenly called by Kilgrave, who calls her brave but rhetorically wonders if it would be wise to antagonize a person so powerful as she described.
To punish Trish, Kilgrave sends a brainwashed police officer to her home. When Trish opens the door, the man attacks her and after a short fight begins strangling Trish. Trish is saved by the timely arrival of Jessica. However, as he was not told to attack Jessica, he does not fight her, merely trying to get back to Trish to murder her. Having obtained the anaesthesia from the hospital, Jessica narcotizes Trish to make the officer think that he killed her. After seemingly having finished his business, the officer returns to Kilgrave, followed by Jessica. On the roof of the apartment where Kilgrave invited himself, Jessica watches Kilgrave dismissing the officer, telling him to jump off the balcony to his death. To prevemt amother innocent man fall victim to Kilgrave, Jessica jumps onto the balcony and pushes the man back to safety. Kilgrave gets up from the sofa he's sitting on, looking directly at Jessica. When the officer once again tries to jump Jessica is forced to knock him out. When she turns around, Kilgrave is gone.
On her way through the appartment, Jessica is ambushed by the owners, who were told by Kilgrave not to let her follow him. In one of the rooms, she finds that the walls are completely full of pictures of herself, showing Kilgrave's obsession with her.
Kilgrave had Jessica meet him at the Hudson Ferry Terminal. Kilgrave taunted Jessica for not having the bravery to confront him before being revealed that Jessica was Trish Walker who resisted his powers by playing the song "Demons" by Sleigh Bells at a high volume to drown him out. Kilgrave ran to the docks and used his powers to manipulate nearby civilians into fighting Jessica. After reaching his yacht Kilgrave puts an end to the fight and appears to have brainwashed Jessica into stopping her attack thanks to the serum his father made to boost his powers. Apprehensive of this Kilgrave assumes Jessica is only pretending to be controlled so she can attack him. To test this he announces that he's going to board the ship and forces Trish to follow him, claiming that he intends to keep Trish as another romantic slave. Despite saying this several times Jessica never budged. When he saw that Jessica wasn't going to save her sister he took that as proof that the serum worked and she was once again under his control.
He approached Jessica and told her to smile, which he was notorious for, and she obeyed. He then told her to say "I love you." Jessica obliges but does so while looking at Trish referencing an earlier bit of dialog between the two sisters involving the same phrase. Kilgrave looked confused but didn't have time to process what was happening before Jessica lifted him up by the chin with one hand, keeping his mouth shut and preventing him from using his powers. Jessica then gives Kilgrave the exact same command he was infamous for: "Smile." and then snaps his neck, killing him instantly.
Jessica would have stood trial for Kilgrave's murder but somehow her lawyer, Jerry Hogarth, was able to spin a narrative where in Kilgrave felt remorse and had Jessica kill him as an act of assisted suicide. With a large amount of witnesses attesting to Kilgrave's abilities Jessica was cleared of charges, but most importantly, she knew Kilgrave would never antagonize her or anyone else ever again.
|“|| Jessica: I just can't handle another death on my conscience, even if it's yours. You would know the feeling if you had a conscience.|
Kilgrave: I have a conscience. It's just more... selective.
|~ Kilgrave and Jessica discuss the former's sociopathic nature|
Before he met Jessica Jones, Kilgrave was used to getting everything he wanted. However, when Jones escaped his thrall Kilgrave became obsessed with Jones; stalking her and trying everything in his power to get at her with the ultimate goal of trying to make her his. To further this goal Kilgrave attempted to destroy anyone that Jessica was around. Hope Shlottman and her family were mere toys for Kilgrave and his attempts to woo Jessica. He turned Jessica's neighbour Malcolm Ducasse into a drug addict so he could use him to get pictures of her. This would have also happened to Jones' sister Trish Walker, when he was just about to escape wanted the ultimate act of revenge against Jones by taking one of the only people she ever loved and turning into his plaything whereas in Jones' mind he would be raping her, whilst Walker was slowly dying in her own mind.
Kilgrave hated children, believing they should be "seen and not heard, or better still not seen and not heard". Without batting an eyelid, he put the children of a family into a closet and told them to be quiet, not caring that the family's daughter needed the toilet. He also told a man he controlled to become his chauffeur to leave his child on the side of the street. He also saw no regret in using the fetus of his aborted child with Hope in order for his father to research ways to expand his powers to greater levels.
Though he was grotesquely overabundant and disproportionate with the use of his mind control powers, normally using them for every remedial task there have been hints that Kilgrave himself finds his abilities a burden at times. He screams to Jessica that he "never knows" when somebody is "doing what he tells them to do" or "of their own free will". Also for some reason he did not use mind control to force a family out of Jessica's childhood home instead he gives them his ill-gotten poker money on the condition they leave before 24 hours. It is unknown why he would do this, the most feasible excuse is that he wanted to prove to Jessica that his feelings were genuine and that he was a changed man.
Despite being psychopathic, schizophrenic, confrontational, over-indulged, manipulative, and completely capable of killing or ruining people's lives without remorse, Kilgrave proves capable of emotion but lacks the capability to process said emotion because of his grey morality. A good example is when forced to see the experiments that created him, he showed genuine sadness and discomfort covering his ears and assuming the fetal position in order to hide from the video being shown. Also Kilgrave had what appeared to be an emotional breakdown when confronted by his parents. Initially he screamed at them with rage for abandoning him but showed a twinge of regret for burning his mothers face with an iron. Perhaps if his mother had not stabbed him he would have seen the error of his ways but his final chance for redemption was completely blown away when he forced her to kill herself.
One of his most defining traits was his complete refusal to take responsibility for any of his actions, often twisting events and finding reasons to make it sound like others were to blame or that his victims deserved the horrible fate he gave them. At one point, he went so far as to say Jessica didn't love him because she was incapable of loving another person, not even considering the possibility that it was because he turned her into his personal mind-slave.
Ultimately, Kilgrave's personality was little more than that of a sociopathic overgrown spoiled child prone to throwing temper tantrums over not getting what he wanted, which in turn makes his hatred of children completely ironic. Literally everything he did with his powers (from forcing Jessica to kill Reva Connors to attempting to kill Jessica for 'rejecting" him) were either completely self-serving or acts of petty vengeance against those he claimed to have wronged him.
- After gaining his powers as a 10-year-old he torments his parents by making them his personal slaves and even during his tantrum, forced his mother to burn herself with an iron.
- Continuously raped Jessica Jones and turned her into his personal slave, even forced her to murder Reva Conners, a woman who came close to discovering about him.
- After being fatally wounded by a bus crash he suffers from Crush Syndrome and forces a man to give him both his kidneys despite the fact that he was capable of surviving with just one.
- After meeting Hope Schlottman, he raped and made her do everything she didn't want to for his won entertainment. When it appeared she was free of his control he had her murder.
- Invades the home of a family, forcing them into his slaves and has the children be locked in a closet. It's presumed he killed the family after this as when Jones saw him in his apartment with Simpson they were no where to be seen.
- Has a police officer, Will Simpson try to murder Trish Walker when she insulted him on her radio show and then later makes him commit suicide but unsuccessfully as Jessica intervenes in time to stop him.
- He destroys a man's life by turning Jessica Jones neighbor, Malcolm Ducasse into a drug addict so he could stalk her and send Kilgrave pictures of Jones.
- Has Ruben, the naive neighbor cut his own throat out when he found Kilgrave in her apartment and forced him to admit his foolish love for her.
- After successfully getting Jessica to live in her old family house he treats the two workers with mass cruelty, such as making them kill themselves as a fail-safe to protect himself from Jones and not allowing them to blink until she returned.
- When he was kidnapped by Jessica and Simpson, he turned the elderly neighbor into a kamikaze by planting a bomb on her, murdering his men and leaving Simpson critically injured.
- Throwing away his only chance of redemption, after meeting his parents for the first time in years he warmly embraced his mother however when she stabs him with a pair of scissors, in retaliation he forces her to stab herself for "every year (she) left (him) alone." He attempted to make his father do the same but Jessica once again intervened.
- After forcing Hogarth's (an associate of Jessica's) ex-wife to patch him up when he was injured by Walker he later makes Wendy murder Hogarth by "one thousand cuts."
- He forces his father and a couple to help him make his powers grow stronger, he later has the couple murder his father and butcher themselves.
- After meeting with Luke Cage he enslaves him and makes him tell everything about Jones before forcing him to blow up his own bar in view of Jessica he later pretended to Jones that he was free of Kilgrave when in reality he was still under his control and orders Cage to kill her.
- As a final act of revenge against Jessica, he prepared to kidnap Trish Walker (her adoptive sister) and continuously rape her until she began to die on the inside.
|“||Here I am, just debating where to eat, and then, bam, there you are! Performing feats of heroism. Come here, let me look at you. Come on. Jesus, you're a vision. Hair and skin. Appalling sense of fashion, but that can be remedied. And underneath it all, the power. Just like me.||„|
|~ Kilgrave to Jessica|
|“||Do not presume to know! Before I met you, I got everything I ever wanted. And I didn't realize how unsatisfactory that was until you left me to die. You are the first thing - excuse me, person - that I wanted that walked away from me. You made me feel something I never had before. Yearning. I actually missed you.||„|
|~ Kilgrave reveals his obsession towards Jessica|
|“||I understand. Mum... pick up the scissors. Stay there, Dad. Take note. For every year that you left me alone... stab yourself.||„|
|~ Kilgrave orders his mother to kill herself|
- Kilgrave is written as a contrast to Wilson Fisk. Fisk is a very large, muscular man more than capable of fighting despite having no powers, and the head of a large criminal organization. Kilgrave, on the other hand, is slim, heavily reliant on his non-physical power and operates entirely alone. Fisk has grand ambitions and semi-defensible motivations, if not methods, while Kilgrave is all about his momentary wants and petty desires. Fisk has a number of people he cares about and makes no secret of this, while Kilgrave cares about nobody but himself despite his insistence otherwise. Fisk regrets the damage done by his actions and even goes through some positive character development, while Kilgrave refuses to even take responsibility for his actions and only gets worse as the series progresses. In the end, Fisk is imprisoned while Kilgrave is killed.
- This version of Purple Man differs from the real name of the character: Zebediah Killgrave was his name in the comics, unlike Kevin Thompson, the name that the show uses was never in the comics itself.
- Despite being Purple Man, although, he is never called by the title and is instead referenced as Kilgrave.
- Kilgrave's veins changing purple in the season finale AKA Smile is a reference to his skin changing purple in the comics, a prime factor on his supervillain identity "Purple Man". He shares this nickname with The Killer from Five Nights at Freddy's.
- Kilgrave is indisputably one of the vilest villains in Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise alongside Red Skull, Daniel Whitehall, John Garrett, Ronan the Accuser and Ego.
- He is also one of the few villains in the MCU to be DIRECTLY killed by a hero; in his case, he is killed by Jessica.
- Kilgrave has received unanimous praise from critics and fans, many people are calling him one of the greatest MCU villains to date and if not, certainly the most terrifying. Critics praise him for his developed motives and determination in fulfilling them and David Tennant's portrayal of the character to match the grittier and darker atmosphere.