So far Marvel’s relationship with Netflix has been an unmitigated success. Daredevil Season 1 introduced us to the gritty underbelly of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, giving us an interesting character facing a truly daunting villain. Jessica Jones was both equal parts entertaining and scary, giving us a superhero story that gives commentary on the sexual assault problem in our country. Daredevil Season 2 took the Marvel/Netflix world up to the next level, introducing The Punisher to world and continuing the trend of these shows being truly great. Now all eyes look to Luke Cage for the next big Netflix obsession.
The show, executive produced by Cheo Hodari Coker (Notorious, Southland, Ray Donovan), will follow Luke Cage (Mike Colter) after he was wrongly convicted of a crime and struggles with whether or not he wants to become a “hero.” The character was introduced (and praised) as a love interest in Jessica Jones. That show served as a backdoor pilot for Cage, proving that audiences are ready for an unbreakable hero.
While Daredevil has the opportunity to deal with issues of faith and Jessica Jones brings a powerful perspective on issues facing women, Luke Cage looks to be Marvel’s most politically charged yet. The past two years have seen issues of racial inequality brought to the forefront of American thought, and images of a black man replacing his clothes due to being riddled with bullet holes is striking. Whether it be the political messaging or the action we’ve come to expect from Marvel, viewers are excited for Luke Cage, and the first reviews are sure to fan the flames of anticipation:
Is ‘Luke Cage’ Marvel’s Best?
But none shine as brightly as Colter. Like we saw glimpses of in Jessica Jones, he gives Cage a sense of reticence mixed with righteous defiance that hits all the right notes for a hero who uses his strength only as a last resort, and he does so in low tones and with a casual confidence. Though Cage isn’t always confident, he’s extremely principled with a magnetic charisma, making him a kind of Captain America to this ragtag group of vigilantes. Though he may struggle to define his heroism and what it means for himself and Harlem, there are no complications for viewers. He is the hero we’ve been waiting for.
From Comics Beat:
And what themes they are. Much like Jessica Jones is a show with a very specific point of view (that of a woman), Luke Cage takes a look at black culture head-on. In between its more high-octane sequences, Coker and the writing staff tackle some truly heady stuff, including black identity, class conflict, inner-city crime, civic pride, and life after imprisonment. One of the main drivers behind the majority of this subject matter is that instead of attempting to create a fictionalized iteration of a community like Hell’s Kitchen, which the two previous series have done, Luke Cage is set right in Harlem, where there’s no need to alter anything. The neighborhood becomes a fulcrum point of everything that drives the storytelling within the series, from the hero who sits at the beating heart of the city, to the villains who use the tools made available to them to make sure their ends are met (and their respective goals are sometimes pretty altruistic). From the soul, R&B and hip-hop – and performances of such – that fill many episodes, to the way the series approaches Cage’s origins and the constant reminder of just what he, and other young black men, have to live up to, despite trying circumstances (the series name-checks such giants as Crispus Attucks and Ralph Ellison), this is the rare superhero piece that transcends its origin point and becomes something much grander and more profound. In a set of years where we’ve come to see that we really don’t live in a post-racial America, this is a series that needs to be seen. Coker’s perspective is invaluable and the clarity of his voice rings through at all points.
Linking to the Greater Marvel Universe with finesse, hip-hop’s alternating swagger and reserve, the zeitgeist, and the iconic legacy of Harlem, the series reaches both back and forward into the culture of heroes and an America looking for a true game-changer. With a muscular cast that includes Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Rosario Dawson, plus every episode named after a Gang Starr track, the wide-ranging and deeply intended drama is further proof that Marvel’s highest quality resides on the small screen.
In this year of election and divide, the series executive produced by Coker, Charles Murray and Jeph Loeb just might be the flexing of the muscle we need.
Were you a fan of Daredevil and Jessica Jones? Are you excited for Luke Cage? Do these reviews fill you with the type of hype that can only be satisfied by 14 hours of straight binge-watching? Let us know in the comments below! The entirety of Luke Cage Season 1 will premiere on Netflix on September 30, look to Word of the Nerd shortly after for a full review.