Marvel and Netflix have combined to create some of the best TV shows of the last few years. So it’s fair to say that we were pretty excited to watch Luke Cage. And, while it certainly didn’t disappoint, it was a little more uneven than the previous MCU shows on Netflix. So here’s what we loved about the show, and what we think didn’t quite work.
What we liked about Luke Cage
For the first half of the series Mahershala Ali stole the show as Cottonmouth (or Cornell Stokes to you). He was by turns charming, dangerous, vulnerable and proud. He is probably the weakest of all of the main villains in the MCU, but that actually makes him the most compelling. It’s interesting that Luke Cage has bullet-proof skin and super strength. It’s fascinating that Cornell Stokes would take on such a demi-god.
In the right hands, music can work with a TV show perfectly. This year has seen music combine with TV to magical effect twice: Stranger Things and Luke Cage.
In Luke Cage, we have the music of Cornell’s club Harlem’s Paradise. The bands that play at Harlem’s Paradise help seep the show in Harlem’s musical heritage, inform the audience about the characters motivations and sound pretty damn cool.
With that in mind, here’s Jidenna singing Long Live the Chief. A song that could have been written for Cornell Stokes.
Luke Cage – The People’s Hero
Luke Cage is probably the most accessible superhero in the MCU. True, others have ‘outed’ themselves to the public. But while some of the Avengers (like Tony Stark) may have made their identities public they can’t really be seen as part of their community. Well, apart from their own super secret community that keeps itself hidden from the public in massive mansions and training complexes.
Luke Cage seems to live and breath Harlem. He doesn’t hide who he is, becoming instead a figurehead for the people of Harlem to rally around. This community spirit and focus set Luke apart from other heroes in the MCU in a positive way.
What we didn’t like about Luke Cage
A little bit too much Power-Man
Luke Cage is cool, and his super abilities are awesome. But for much of the series he outclassed his opposition with too little difficulty. To the point where, I ended up feeling sorry for Cottonmouth’s mooks, who were being sent out to deal with this superman of Harlem. They could do pretty much nothing but get knocked out and hope that repetitive concussions weren’t going to have too big an impact on their long-term health. This killed a little bit of the suspense and too much of the early episodes were reduced to ‘Luke walks around and gets what he wants’.
No Jessica Jones?
I understand there are probably good reasons, both contractual and story based, for the lack of Jessica Jones in this show. But it still left a bit of a hole. Jessica simply being ‘Luke’s-ex’ retrospectively lessened the impact of their relationship in the Jessica Jones series. It also seemed pretty weird that he could have got all of this publicity without Jessica giving him a call to see what’s up.
All in all Luke Cage was probably my fifth favourite offering from Marvel; behind both Daredevil series, Jessica Jones and Guardians of the Galaxy. So still pretty good and much better than any of the DC series.
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