Marvel’s Luke Cage Review: Almost Bulletproof
The newest Netflix and Marvel Television project Luke Cage is now ready to be binged.
Disclaimer: This review covers the first seven episodes of Marvel’s Luke Cage; it does not reflect the series as a whole.
The buzz about Luke Cage comes to a crescendo as Netflix releases the entire season today, September 30th. Marvel’s Luke Cage, created by Cheo Hodari Coker, treats the series as a well thought out music album. Coker even names most of the episodes after hit Gang Starr songs, like Episode 4: “step into the arena”. Main protagonist Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter, has taken refuge in Harlem, New York a couple of months after the events of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Luke Cage had previously been seen in the Jessica Jones series as a main character who attempts to help Jessica with her problems, however he is left in her apartment for the final showdown after Jessica almost fatally wounds Cage.
We learn a little bit about Luke’s past and abilities from this series. Luke cage has incredible super-human strength along with impenetrable skin, capable of deflecting bullets similar to a certain “man of steel”. Luke can even withstand an entire building falling on top of him.
In the first arc of the season, Episode 1, we have Cage hiding out, struggling to make ends meet as a janitor. He lives in a humble barber shop owned by post crime thug “POP”, who is a lovable father-like character played by Frankie Faison. Luke is also a dishwasher in a nightclub, and occasionally bartends in that same club owned by antagonist Cottonmouth played by Mahershala Ali. The first episode starts off slower than I would have liked, but it is important that they set the tone of Luke trying to live quietly and unnoticed.
After some time, Cottonmouth is betrayed and one of his men sends “a message” to one of Luke’s favorite spots. This brings Cage out of his hideout and by the 3rd episode, I really start to enjoy Luke Cage’; after you get through the first episode you feel yourself getting more invested in the characters introduced. I especially enjoy the strong female characters detective Misty Knight played by Simone Missick, and politician Mariah Stokes played by actress Alfre Woodard.
Apart from having modern female characters, Luke Cage also feels very political and dives into the lives of a city heavily populated by minorities. The series pushes boundaries by bringing to light popular movements happening now. For example, Black Lives Matter is brought up several times by the residents who feel like people are being taken advantage of, and Cottonmouth has a sister who is a politician being funded by any means necessary. The series also brings to light how drug money is buying off certain members of the police force, thus making the justice system overall corrupt. This is a story more about the neighborhood and the people rather than showy kung foo moves–however they still do some pretty cool moves.
The beginning arc shows how Cage protects the city in his own way by standing up for the little people. He constantly battles Cottonmouth slowly draining him of funding, weapons, and people as a way to take him down. Luke starts to become a local hero in his town, and people look up to him. What I like most about this series is that Luke doesn’t hide when he is needed; everyone knows his name and comes to him for help. Luke Cage is a heavy shield who can be called upon when he is needed. I mean, they practically throw a building at the guy!
What I find most interesting is that this story takes place several years after he gets his powers, but he only now starts to become a hero because he was always held back by fear. Even though he was wrongfully accused and had a tragic back story, it shows how human he still is; to have taken so much time, and he’s still not completely healed. I especially loved the cameo of Daredevil actress Rosario Dawson, who plays a nurse named Claire Temple. Claire is seen throughout all three Marvel series Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and now Luke Cage. I think she is an important connector, and I believe that she will bring the three worlds together to help fight bigger badder guys down the road.
Overall, the first seven episodes I would rate them 8 out of 10. Eight because I enjoyed watching this, and I am excited to see where they will take Luke Cage going forward. I also thought that the political correctness of this series brings it to a higher level than some other of the marvel series. I enjoyed the soundtrack; they did a really good job with that also. It wasn’t a ten out of ten because I haven’t finished the series, and I think the ending will be important.
I also felt the first episode was tough to get through. They didn’t get to his back story for a long time, and they also didn’t repeat any of the things said in Jessica Jones about his wife… so for those who haven’t watched that series they might be a little in the dark. I feel like the pilot is the most important so I took 2 points off just for that rough start. To conclude, I think it is a fun series thus far and it will have people saying “Sweet Christmas” a whole lot more this year.