Luke Cage is the third series coming from Netflix and Marvel, and it’s the third series focused on a street-level hero in New York, this time focusing on the streets of Harlem.
But this is also the first Marvel Cinematic Universe series or film to feature a black hero at the forefront. Not as a supporting character like Falcon or War Machine, but a true black protagonist, as well as whole slew of varied black antagonists, and black supporting cast.
Although the first few episodes of Luke Cage start off slow, you have to remember that Luke isn’t trying to be a vigilante like Daredevil, or running an investigation firm like Jessica Jones. He’s an ex-con, framed for a crime he didn’t commit and is trying to live a peaceful quiet life in New York, which is still struggling after the events of The Avengers. In the real world, Daredevil, an attorney fresh out of law school, couldn’t afford rent in Hell’s Kitchen!
Once the action gets going, Mike Colter’s portrayal of the bulletproof, yet well-mannered Luke Cage is nuanced, interesting, and ranges from flirting with Detective Misty Knight (played by Simone Missick) and being a strong-willed corner of a community to full blown emotional tears that can only be cried by a broken man.
The show is unapologetically full of black character; it also discusses, and shows, the political and cultural power of a bulletproof black man in a time where black males are being murdered in cold blood. Luke Cage begins the show working in a barbershop, owned by an ex-convict who is trying to do good and gives Luke a second chance.
The music on the show is even more involved than Guardians of the Galaxy. Luke Cage listens to Wu-Tang while beating up crooks, and even Method Man, who helped work on the music for the series, makes a guest appearance in the 12th episode. Every episode is named after a song by the rap group Gang Starr, and nearly all of them feature a live musician. Ultimately, I didn’t recognize any of them besides Method Man, but it was interesting to show Cottonmouth, one of the key villains, owning a nightclub full of extremely talented musicians.
All in all, you’ll love Luke Cage. It’ll take a little getting used to the pace, but once the show gets going it’ll be hard to put down. I’ve been binge-watching through allergy attacks, and you can too!
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