By now, I’m sure everyone has watched, inhaled the entire series by (I myself have watched twice) and formed their opinion on where this entry falls in the Marvel verse of shows. Let me start by stating I rank this show high as hell! I’m sure there are hundreds of think pieces and reviews by comic geeks and non-geeks alike all over the net. Terms like “unapologetically black ” and “urban” are sure to be included and thrown around ad nausea due to the political themes, the soundtrack, the references, and even the naming of episodes. Those issues and points may well be fleshed out, however, I am reviewing strictly on a character I’ve waited to see on the big screen for years and how/if he was done justly.
For those who are unfamiliar to the character, Luke Cage in the comics, was an ex gang-banger/convict who gets superpowers while being experimented on in prison, in an attempt to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America. He escapes prison and eventually becomes a hero for hire (hence the name). The comic series original run was in the 70s during the Blaxploitation era of film /media. With that said, turn this character into a live action show, in today’s society while staying true to the main character, as well as making it, relevant and not making it corny while still making it badass would be the objective (eyes on you Ryan Coogler).
Luke Cage: we got a glimpse of him on Jessica Jones, the type of character he is, his powers and how they could be made to look realistic on film .Michael Colter was a great cast for Cage. A big dude who can physically look imposing and yet able to actually act when portraying an actual intellectual thinking hero.
Cottonmouth: Played perfectly by Mahershala Ali. His portrayal was made more realistically for the show than the comic version would have. A criminal crime lord who had as much charisma as viciousness .Draws comparisons to the portrayal of Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. Cottonmouths character was fleshed out as more than the typical, one dimensional villain. He has a backstory that even gives the viewer a reason to see him as a tragic figure worth a hint of remorse /sympathy.
Diamondback aka Willis Stryker: Played as over the top as can be without being cartoonish, yet still menacing and captivating to cause dread and steal every scene he’s in .Erick Harvey (Dunn from Boardwalk Empire) evoked the charisma of the late Julius Carry portrayal as sho nuff the shogun of Harlemarguably, the greatest villain in cinema history (the last dragon). Idc idc. Fight me!
Black Mariah is played masterfully by Alfre Woodard. Her character development gave the audience more than the comic story line, giving Mariah more of a reluctant female kingpin with depths of rage and layers spin.
Shades: By far my least favorite portrayal. Not that the character was played badly or that the character was powerless (in the comics Shades is kind of the black evil version of Cyclops), I just don’t know if I could ever see the actor, Theo Rossi, be “menacing”. After all, he’ll forever be “Juice” from Sons of Anarchy. Forever!
Misty knight – played by the beautiful Simone Missick .She was the epitome of the love/hate relationship you can have with a character episode to episode. Her stubbornness to listen and do things her own way kept trying my patience. However, the character comes around and is set up nicely for her arc in the upcoming Iron Fist and The Defenders series.
In conclusion, Netflix has done it again. They are the live action version equivalent of what DC animation is to animated films. They are seemingly flawless with their productions. Even the less appealing shows/films are better than a lot of the “big blockbuster” theatrical release films. Here’s looking at you Jessica Jones and The Killing Joke.
Luke cage is easily my favorite of all their productions yet to date. The hip hop element, the pop references, the use of actors from seemingly every past HBO show I’ve watched and cultural references as well as Luke Cage being my first ever comic hero I ever read as a kid, made this show highly enjoyable to me. Was it better than Daredevil season 2? Not in my opinion. The fight choreography along with breakout role as the Punisher makes that the number 1 show in the Netflix Marvel verse and IMO top 5 in MCU. Period. However, I’ve only watched that series once in its entirety. I’ve already re-watched Luke Cage twice in a matter of three and a half days, so we’ll see how I feel a year or two from now.
Luke Cage rating: A solid 4.5/5
Ant man out!