If you haven’t seen Luke Cage yet go check out my first Luke Cage post, watch the show, then read this post :).
How amazing was Luke Cage?! The only real qualm I had with it was that the time line wasn’t explicit, even though the shows creators and writers said that it took place after Jessica Jones (JJ). This does become clearer after the first few episodes, and when Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson’s character) is introduced. The only other thing that I was sad about was that JJ didn’t make an appearance. On the whole it was a fantastic series, one that I want to watch again, hopefully soon!
The standouts for me were the acting, the music, and the cinematography. The performances from all the actors were really nuanced and compelling. Half the time I felt like I was rooting for the bad guy and the other half I didn’t know who the bad guy was.
A big chunk of the show takes place in a nightclub owned by one of the villains, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, who is played by Mahershala Ali. Mahershala just won the Oscar for best Actor! .Every night they have a different band singing, and then they usually wrap each episode with the band’s performance of the song. It’s really neat, the songs are Ah-mazing! Spotify has the entire Luke Cage playlist up (most Netflix shows are up there) and I highly recommend you check it out.
The Villains: Cottonmouth, Mariah (a local councilwoman), Shades Alvarez, and Stryker (Luke’s half brother) who is the only one that seems to know the secret to taking down Luke. With the exception of Stryker, all the other villains are “bad guys” but they also do a lot of good in the community. They definitely have a “look out for our own” mentality, but you also wouldn’t want to get on their bad side or steal their money. One of the most Iconic moments in the season was when Cottonmouth talks to one of his victims about how he rose to the top and got to be the best in his business. The filming and acting were so good and so subtle. By the time Cottonmouth is standing in front of his Biggie painting and the crown is lined up perfectly with his head, it is chilling and awe striking. That moment sent a shiver down my spine. The whole series is filled with moments like this. Instances where the acting and camera work just line up so perfectly for these impactful moments where you question everything you thought you knew about the show. The villains really push this superhero show from good to amazing.
How did Luke get his powers? When he goes to prison he is just a regular guy. Albeit one with huge muscles and a pretty good fighting instinct, but no superpowers that we know of. Eventually Luke attracts the attention of one of the prison guards who runs an illegal underground fighting ring in the prison. He wants Luke to fight and offers him perks while being in prison. This underground fighting ring is also where we are introduced to the consummate survivor Shades Alvarez. Luke ends up fighting and doing really well. However, when he wants to quit fighting, the crooked guard won’t let him and threatens his only friend in prison. So Luke has to keep fighting, but eventually gets jumped by Shades and another bad guy. They beat him viciously and he has life ending injuries and ends up in the prison hospital. Luke’s future wife Reva is a prison therapist and begs the doctor to give Luke the experimental medicine that could save his life. Finally the doctor agrees even though he thinks it will be a waste of time because Luke is beyond saving. Meanwhile the guard does not want Luke to survive (hence the reason he had him beaten within an inch of his life). Luke gets put into the tank, reminiscent of the one Wolverine goes into when he gets his claws replaced by adamantium. Then there is a combination of an electrical storm and the guard turning up the heat to insane levels so that Luke will die in the tank. Well that has the opposite effect and Luke ends up with impenetrable skin and super strength.
Luke Cage comes out of the superhero closet so to speak. For better or worse he reveals himself to the Harlem community as a superhero and vows to help rid it of the criminals and corrupt politicians, who want to destroy Harlem from the inside out. This is pretty unique in the marvel Netflix series as most of the “gifted” heroes prefer to stay hidden (for some good reasons). Not everyone is ecstatic that Luke is out in the open. Mariah tries to turn him into a public enemy by painting him as a thug and a terrorist to the community. Despite all that he still stands up and fights (even when the cops are against him and at first most of the public too). Slowly and surely he wins back the popular opinion. When the cops continue shooting at him, and fail against his bullet proof skin, his hoodie is riddled with bullet holes (also a commentary on how police treat men and women of color in America). The bodegas start selling hoodies with bullet holes in them to both confuse the police and as a show of solidarity with Luke. Coming out like Luke did, took a lot of courage especially when he knew people would be against him. Ultimately it was the right choice because he is an inspiration for kids in his neighborhood to stand up and do the right thing even when it’s not popular.
I really loved everything about Luke Cage, I think it is a much needed show especially in the Marvel world. The diversity it brings to the table is unique and refreshing. I thought there was a lot of really smart commentary on the current climate in America. The music, villains, Luke were all amazing and added to the Marvel universe in different and interesting ways. I can’t wait to see how Luke teams up with the other defenders later this year, and I especially cannot wait for season 2 of Luke Cage. I only scraped the surface on Luke cage, but you should go check it out right now if you haven’t seen it.
Let me know what you thought of Luke Cage in the comments!