Luke Cage Wins Over the Hearts of Netflix Binge Watchers
Once again Marvel and Netflix have teamed up to bring comic book and superhero fans another amazing series to slowly taking over the world. Luke Cage, which premiered on Sept. 30, 2016, is the third superhero television series to debut on the streaming platform. The 13-episode series follows Luke Cage (Mike Colter), a superhuman who has impossible strength, unbreakable skin, and rapid healing abilities.
Cage was first introduced in another Netflix Marvel series, Jessica Jones, where he teams up with Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), another superhuman, in order to defeat the mind-controlling villain Kilgrave (David Tennant). The plotline of Luke Cage picks up a few months after the events in that series. Cage has moved from Hell’s Kitchen to Harlem and is trying to keep his head down, his rent paid, and avoid all things related to superheroes or saving the day. However, after a deal gone wrong, Cage gets caught up in the scheme of local businessman and snake in the grass Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali). He is then forced to take on crooked politicians, corrupt cops, and crime bosses in order to protect the people and the neighborhood he loves.
The show’s writer, Cheo Hodari Coker, is a Stanford educated former journalist turned TV showrunner. Coker has been a part of many endeavors over the years, including writing about hip-hop for The Source and The L.A. Times, writing the Notorious B.I.G. biography, Notorious, creating a film adaptation of said biography, and also writing for Southland and Ray Donovan. Luke Cage is the first series that Coker has written from the beginning, yet the talent and skill he uses to entrance the audience is unmistakable. Coker not only creates an action packed plot for Cage, but he has managed to interweave social and political commentary, as well as the hip-hop and the cultural importance of Harlem into the story. This may be Coker’s first time as a primary writer for a series, but this will most certainly not be the last time audiences see his name.
While the writing is beautifully done, the series does suffer from a lack of cohesion. Throughout the show, there are multiple stories lines occurring at once. From Cage’s origin story, to the corruption of the NYPD, to the family drama between Cottonmouth and his councilwoman cousin, Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), it feels like multiple shows being smashed together instead of one storyline. Too many rapid shifts in story, as well as some of those stories simply not fusing together very well, leaves the audience with whiplash. Nevertheless, as the series makes its way towards the finale, those various story lines seem to interlace themselves together in order to focus on answering one question: is Luke Cage a threat or a hero?
This show would be nothing though without its talented cast. Many of the cast members are well known as prominent actors and actresses. These individuals have proven their talent through various television projects, and they once again bring their A-game to this Netflix original. Mike Colter, best known for his role in The Good Wife, takes Luke Cage and makes him a stoic, stern man with a good heart and a glimmer of humor that shines through every now and again. Not to mention Mahershala Ali, known for his role as Remy Danton in House of Cards, and Alfre Woodard, also known for her work in Desperate House Wives, who take their slimy, crooked characters and make the audience simultaneously envy and hate them, as all good villains should be viewed. However, the best part of this entire series is newcomer Simone Cook. Cook plays Mercedes “Misty” Knight, a hardworking Harlem detective with a strong moral code and a desire to clean up her neighborhood. Cook may be new to the game, but her gift for bringing life into a strong, kind hearted, and well-rounded woman of color shows she will be making her mark in bigger projects sooner rather than later.
The show has received positive reviews, boasting a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.4/10 on IMDb, and a 4/5 on Common Sense Media. It is expected that the series will be picked up for a second season by Netflix in the coming months, and most fans are already anxiously waiting to see what will happen. If anyone is looking for a new superhero to become obsessed with, settling in with Mr. Luke Cage will have you saying “Sweet Christmas!”