Jessica Jones season two is essentially about Jessica discovering the truth about her past, and coming to terms with it. One of the most interesting aspects of that is that Jessica’s full, true origin has finally been revealed.
In the first season of Jessica Jones, we are presented with a short, sweet, and ultimately open-ended origin story: she was in a car accident when she was a teenager, which killed the rest of her family. When she woke up in the hospital, she had super strength and other abilities.
While that’s pretty close to her comic book origins, that wasn’t the complete story as we learn this season: something else, or someone else, was involved.
Over the course of the scene we learn that the truck actually didn’t matter — it wasn’t carrying radioactive chemicals as in the comics. Instead, it was just a normal truck that they rear-ended at high speed. Jessica was badly injured in the crash, and might not have pulled through.
Desperate, one of her doctors, Leslie Hansen, transferred her to an experimental program called IGH, run by Doctor Karl Malus. Dr. Malus’ method was an illegal and untested procedure involving genetic editing: using live viruses to stimulate DNA and promote healing by essentially altering peoples genes.
Jessica’s ultimately recovered in this program in just 20 days, in and out of medically induced comas while Dr Malus and his team worked to save her life. After she was stabilized, she was returned to a normal hospital and ultimately adopted by Dorothy Walker.
It wasn’t until after she left the program that she realized she now had superhuman strength and a variety of other abilities, like increased durability and quicker healing, as a result of a strange and unforeseen interaction her unique DNA had with Malus’ editing.
But there was another revelation here, and one that I don’t think a lot of people saw coming: Jessica’s Mother, Alisa, also survived the accident.
Her injuries were even more severe, and her surviving to even get to the program was a miracle, with burns and wounds over 90% of her body and massive internal trauma. However, the genetic editing eventually healed her, too, and she made a near full recovery. But, as a result of the severe trauma she went through, or potentially a side-effect of being in medically-induced comas for the better part of five years, she had violent mood swings that she couldn’t control.
This was made deadly because of her own powers. Malus’ experiments granted her super strength as well, but because of the amount of genetic editing that had to be done, her abilities massively exceeded her daughters. When coupled with her mental instability it was a deadly cocktail.
Ultimately, the rest of Jessica’s story we know. She was adopted by Dorothy Walker as part of a publicity stunt for her daughter Patsy’s show. She grew up with Trish and eventually decided to put her powers to use as a private eye in Hell’s Kitchen.