Netflix’s Luke Cage Season 1 – A Review

On Friday, September 30, Netflix released Season 1 of the highly anticipated Marvel series Luke Cage. We were all able to get a decent taste of Cage in Netflix's Jessica Jones where the PI/Antihero engaged in a crazy relationship with Cage where he was seemingly the only person with whom she could truly be herself.

Based on that appearance, we knew that Cage was strong, bulletproof, a dick once you pissed him off and not someone you want to battle.

With that in mind, fans of Netflix/Marvel collaborations were waiting on what Cage would bring to the screen as a solo act.
 

 

Mike Colter's portrayal of Luke Cage/Carl Lucas shows us a man with incredible abilities who's struggling with the notion of getting involved with and helping others since doing so would jeopardize his life and, ultimately, take away his freedom. Cage tries to remain unaffected as he continues to mind his business, but he gets dragged into conflicting situations that cannot be resolved without someone getting hurt. The season revolves around that struggle and dealing with how the ones he cares about are affected by the carnage throughout the season. That's the best way I can put it without giving anything away.

However, before we get into the good and the bad the show offers, I must say that the series differs from the actual comic book story. Check put the notable differences:

  • Luke Cage was created because of all the success blaxpoitation films were getting. (Think Dolomite, and more recently Black Dynamite)
  • He is often referred to as Power Man.
  • Luke Cage is a hero for hire and he's worked in tandem with Daniel Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist who also happens to be his best friend.
  • He ends up being Jessica Jones's baby daddy despite all the women he's interested in the show. 
  • Willis Stryker a.k.a. Diamondback was his best friend who betrayed him because of a woman Reva Connors – she has a completely different role in the show.

For more Luke Cage facts, check out the Luke Cage piece on screenrant.com.
 

Netflix's Luke Cage

 

THE GOOD

Mostly Black Cast

One of the things people complained about the most regarding this show is that there was a lack of diversity because most of the characters were either black or hispanic …

Let that sink in for a second. 

People are watching a black superhero from Harlem – a historically black neighbourhood – and complain about a lack of diversity. A lot of showx lack diversity. Shows like Seinfeld, Friends, Fraser, Will and Grace and the list goes on. We've all noticed it, but it was never used to gauge whether these showa were good or not. For the record, Seinfeld was awesome. 

The funny thing, though, is that the same people who called out Luke Cage for its lack of diversity couldn't ignore the fact that it was still a good show.

Anyway, back to the topic. I think there is a fundamental difference between a "black" movie and a movie with a black cast. If you can relate to what the characters are saying and feeling, their ethnicity souldn't and doesn't matter. And it doesn't matter in Luke Cage. All that matters is the story and how well the actors play it out.

Most of the characters are played flawlessly and they all do a great job of making you care about their motivations. Shout out to Simone Missick for playing Misty Knight. She did a great job and her chracter was needed to make the show more interesting.

 

The Soundtrack

One of the best things about the show is the music. Mahershala Ali plays Cottonmouth, a harlem-native gangster who owns a nightclub called Harlem's Paradise. In his club, acts such as Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans, Jidenna and The Delfonics help set the right mood for whatever's going on in the story.

Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge were in charge of the music and they did not disappoint. The music mainly relied on hip-hop, r&b and soul to set the tone for the show. There wasn't a single moment where the score and visuals did not match perfectly.

 

The Story

Although they changed a lot of aspects from the comic book's original narrative, the show's writers did a good job of keeping us on our toes with the story. It gets you involved with a few WTF moments and it properly gives you insight into Luke Cage's character.

Since he's the son of a preacher and a fugitive from the law, his clean-cut-do-the-right-thing demeanour makes sense. You also understand each main character's motivation, which makes you want to root for a bad guy even when you shouldn't. The only character whose motivation is unclear is Shades who's played by Theo Rossi. Sometimes I wondered what his overall goal was and I'm still not sure.

 

THE BAD

The Fight Scenes

If there's one thing that sets Daredevil apart from any other Marvel show on Netflix, it's the amazing fight scenes and action sequences. Jessica Jones couldn't rival those scenes and neither does Luke Cage.

And I understand that, given his powers, Cage can't go toe-to-toe with henchmen he can kill with a single punch. The problem is that it creates repetitive fight scenes that become boring quicker than expected. They shoot at him, he shields someone (or himself) and, when they're out of bullets, he knocks them out or bends their guns. 

Being aware of this drawback, the showrunners could've invested in better special effects to make Luke Cage's strength seems much more impressive or something like it. But they didn't and that made certain moments look fake, which takes away some of the show's cool points.

 

No Jessica Jones

A JJ appearance would've been more than welcomed.

I know, I know. Why would Jessica Jones be doing in Harlem?

I don't have a good answer to that, but it could've made sense for her to be there when things got dark for Luke Cage. I know Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson) was the designated MVP in Luke's time of need, but I still believe Jessica Jones could've helped in some way.

Just like Luke Cage made the Jessica Jones season a little better, I think a little reciprocity would've been nice and it would have been a good set-up for upcoming Netflix show The Defenders.

I just feel that Luke Cage was missing a little something towards the end to tie a nice little bow on the season. It just kind of ends without really hinting to what's coming next for Luke.

 

RS FINAL THOUGHTS

It's a good show. I enjoyed it a little more than Jessica Jones, but not nearly as much as Daredevil. The story, the music and the players were all on point, but they need to do a much better job with the action sequences. I mean we get that he's bulletproof, so maybe his enemies should stop shooting at him. 

What if he shows off his strength with crazy special effects. At least Jessica Jones lifted a car at some point. All I'm saying is that if the fight scenes and special effects would have been more intricate and exciting, the show as a whole would have been better.

However, I will say that it's definitely worth watching.

 

written by Joe Renegade

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