Marvel’s Netflix universe just got a little bigger with the release of possible their best show so far, Marvel’s Luke Cage. Here’s our review.
First introduced in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage is the latest street level avenger to join Netflix’s shared universe. And potentially the best so far.
When the series kicks off, Mike Colter’s Luke Cage is laying low in Harlem. This is after everything that went down during his time with Jessica Jones, the alcoholic private investigator “gifted” with superhuman strength and flight.
Just to jog your memory, Luke was used as a pawn by Jessica’s mind-controlling and psychotic ex-boyfriend, Kilgrave, to try to take her down. The end result of which was Luke ends up in hospital after Jessica had to go to extreme lengths to take down Kilgrave’s unwitting accomplice. Cage flees mid-town and ends up sweeping floors in a barber shop in Harlem. While here he encounters gang troubles, corruption, and dogged police detectives all looking to find out who is Luke Cage.
After the almost mystical storytelling of Daredevil and the noir detective stylings of Jessica Jones. Marvel’s Luke Cage could be described as a 1990’s hip-hop inspired drama series that feels like a superhero version of The Wire.
The story develops slowly but, unlike Jessica Jones, doesn’t feel overly stretched out or that some episodes are filler. In fact, Luke shares a lot of similar personality traits with Captain America. Both are quite, unassuming heroes whose actions belie their amazing abilities. But unlike the All-American Rodgers, Cage is not that clean cut.
There is a reason why he doesn’t have a bank account, would rather get paid under the table and works in a barber shop. He clearly wants to remain under the radar, but it seems like Harlem, and its many citizens, keep forcing him to embrace his heroic destiny.
This heroic destiny puts Luke Cage on a collision course with a number colourfully named villainous characters. Such as Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, Alfre Woodard as “Black” Mariah Dillard, and Theo Rossi as “Shades” Alvarez.
But not everyone who Cage encounters have nefarious motivations. As the likes of Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Frankie Faison as Pops, and Ron Cephas Jones as Bobby Fish, get drawn into the escalating conflict on Luke’s side.
One of the great things about watching any Marvel property has to be the easter eggs. In fact, Netflix shows have their own walking easter egg in the form of Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple. Her character already popped up in the first season of Jessica Jones. This time around the driving cause of her presence in Luke Cage is the Ninja attack she witnessed in Daredevil season two. Her role seems to be simple. Show the hero that the hesitations he has to act on his powers are holding him back from achieving great things for both himself and the people of Harlem.
Mike Colter’s physicality was always part of the appeal for anyone thinking about tuning into Marvel’s Luke Cage. Those who watched Jessica Jones will know what Colter brings. An imposing physical presence to Cage but this time around we get the chance to explore more about the character he portrays.
Like every superhero, Luke Cage has a tragic backstory and this is explored here. Including a great call back to his original costume and look. His invulnerable skin, ability to take a bullet and dish out a beating are completely at odds with his quiet demeanor.
Marvel’s Luke Cage has a lot going for it. Specifically the interaction between the characters, the multi-layered plot and the character development.
A lot will be written about Colter, Mahershala Ali, and Alfre Woodard but, for me, Simone Missick as Misty Knight and Ron Cephas Jones as Bobby Fish are real standouts.
The other stand out characters have to be Harlem, as the show producers do a brilliant job of weaving the city into the plot, and the music. In fact, the show features onscreen performances by Faith Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Charles Bradley, The Delfonics, Method Man, and Jidenna.
This is definitely up there with Stranger Things, Daredevil, and Game Of Thrones as one of the shows of 2016. If you are looking for a show to binge watch this week, you can’t do better than Marvel’s Luke Cage.