Luke Cage broke the norms of television drama and all I could say was ‘SWEET CHRISTMAS!!’
Marvel has been killing it with his Netflix’s deal. The characters and the larger than life setting that they have created with their shows have been simply incredible. Marvel has stopped making just superhero shows; these are some great television shows.
While Luke Cage continues the trend of superb characterization, storytelling, villains, and developing a setting as part of the cast that breathes and lives like rest of the characters. It does an important job and introduces one of Marvel’s foremost Black heroes to the limelight. The idea is followed by a series of fascinating characters and a compelling story.
Luke Cage delivers an incredibly strong season (no pun intended). Though we’ve met him earlier in Jessica Jones, this time, we get to know more of him and his backstory. Mike Colter as Luke Cage is perfect as he delivers a performance which has the perfect combination of strength, smarts and charisma.
Wilson Fisk in Daredevil was a loveable bad guy. Luke Cage takes this to a new level with introducing just not one villain but a series of bad guys trying to make his life hell. All these characters are interconnected to each other and trying to make Luke Cage’s life hell. The first half of the show is ruled by Cottonmouth and his nefarious agenda that makes him believe is for a greater good for Harlem’s betterment. Played by Mahershala Ali, he fills the role with his energy and style making it look like he was born to play him. His posture, his voice, and everything about the character was so utterly villainous. There are times when you’ll find yourself sometimes cheering for Cottonmouth.
Alfre Woodard is also great as Mariah Dillard as she portrays a councilwoman who wants to make the city a better place, however with ties to the city’s underbelly, struggles to do so legally.
Diamondback as a villain, disappoints at times. His role feels like a forcefully injected one in the show. Although his dialogues are brilliantly handled, Diamondback’s misguided understanding of the Bible and his twisted mindset made him especially volatile. I particularly loved Hernan “Shades” Cortes (played by Theo Rossi). He was such a smooth talker and his smile so disarming. He actually looks and feels like a menace and someone who’ll always be a step ahead of you, hero or villain.
Another excellent aspect of the show is the music, Luke Cage is magnificently scored as it’s able to pull you back to the old 70s while being able to mix with new age reggae music. This balance is maintained very well and it actually compliments the show’s overall theme.
The show is set deep in the streets of Harlem, a city with a rich music and artistic history, and a strong Black history. The show plays into that and brings out Black culture in beautiful ways. Harlem itself is portrayed as a character on the show. You can feel the locale’s aura, the vibe and how it breathes and feels as the show proceeds. Luke’s relationship with the people of Harlem is a big part of the series; one moment they blame him for Stokes’ men robbing them, the next, they praise his speech at the church during Pops’ funeral.
Pop’s Barbershop plays a pivotal role on the show. Pop himself becomes a walking history of Harlem and a respectable figure among the youth while paving a path for Luke’s journey. I wonder if his barbershop will be used for the heroes for hire office in defenders or if it will be reshaped by Luke Cage and will be made operational again.
Misty Knight (played by Simone Missick) adds value to the show in terms of residents of Harlem. She represents the long list of Marvel’s strong female characters. Her character development is handled very well and her connection to Luke Cage fleshes out as the show proceeds.
While Luke Cage doesn’t come up close to the level that Daredevil season 1 set but it is somewhere close. I am totally excited for Defenders and the Netflix show paves path in a very subtle way.
Overall rating – 8 out of 10.