Marvel: Luke Cage is not like your ordinary super hero flick. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard lots of buzz about the series, which is streaming on Netflix. Some say it’s too Black and some say they couldn’t keep up with the Ebonics and some say it’s too street and even too slow, as superhero flicks go. The buzz plus the constant advertisements are what prompted me to binge watch the first season (13 episodes). After watching the first episode, I must admit, I had mix feelings. From childhood to adulthood, Luke’s story seemed dark. As a matter of fact, the whole series seemed dark. The lighting was hardly ever bright, the characters were hardly ever cheery or uplifting and everyone seemed to be in their own personal struggle. It was as though I was viewing Harlem, where this all takes place, through the eye of Donald Trump, who paints a pretty grim picture of Black neighborhoods. Since I was born and raised in Harlem, I can say, first hand, it’s not as rumor would have you believe. However, since Luke Cage is dealing with an underworld of corruption, drugs, gangs and poverty, the look and feel is definitely not like Spiderman or Superman. It’s more like a Black Gotham (the TV series), only the characters are real people with only one super hero, which is what I think the writers and directors were going after.
Luke Cage/Carl Lucas (Mike Colter) is a superhero who escaped from Seagate Prison after acquiring superhuman strength and impenetrable skin because of a sabotaged experiment under the hands of Dr. Noah Burstein (Michael Kostroff), a scientist conducting experiments on inmates. Settling in Harlem, Carl Lucas changed his name to Luke Cage and took on several jobs. As a sweeper at the local barber shop, he works for Henry “Pop” Hunter (Frankie Faison) and meets Misty Knight (Simone Missick) a NYPD detective who is investigating a shooting. As a dish washer at Harlem’s Paradise nightclub, Luke works for crime boss, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali). Alfre Woodard plays (Mariah Dillard), “Cottonmouth’s” corrupt cousin and mayor of Harlem while Rosario Dawson plays Claire Temple, a nurse that assisted in Luke’s recovery on a couple of occasions and appears to be a current love interest. Perhaps the most profound character is Willis Stryker / Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) a powerful arms dealer who is Cage’s half-brother and the one who framed him for the crime that sent him to Seagate Prison.
I enjoyed the series because like most super heroes, Cage is good and does his best to resolve his personal issues while fighting his enemies and trying to take care of his neighborhood. What I didn’t like, was how so many corrupt, evil murderers never seemed to get adequately punished for their crimes. I was also unhappy with the potential season ending that indicated a scenario for season 2 I’d rather not deal with. Kudos to Netflix and Coker for the replication of Harlem’s unique atmosphere, culture and music. Marvel: Luke Cage also comments on race, politics, and the Black Lives Matter movement. If you have Netflix, check it out! It’s not the best superhero flick you’ll see but it’s entertaining.