Luke Cage is the third Netflix Marvel superhero series, with Daredevil and Jessica Jones preceding this show. We’ve already met the pretty much indestructable Luke Cage (Mike Colter) on Jessica Jones, where he was her very compatible love interest. Luke decided to leave Hell’s Kitchen in the final episode. His own show picks up months after that, when he is leading a pretty simple life with two honest jobs as dishwasher in a nightclub and cleaner for Pop’s barber shop. Only Pop seems to know Luke has powers.
The first season of Luke Cage consists of 13 episodes, just like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. There is a slight ‘mid season finale’ feeling after episode seven, which is why this review covers those first seven episodes. It’s a plus to watch Jessica Jones before watching Luke Cage, but it’s not at all necessary as the two shows are not intertwined. Episode one starts of easy, getting to know the main and new characters.
Compared to its predecessors, Luke Cage has a relatively slow pace. It’s not quite as action packed as Daredevil, nor as suspenseful as Jessica Jones. But that’s understandable, since Luke Cage is a very different person compared to Jessica and Matt Murdoch. Luke Cage is soft, kind and pleasant to be around. He doesn’t have a temper and genuinely likes people. He believes in doing the right thing. Maybe he even is a bit dull at times. It doesn’t get in the way of the story but don’t expect a big shocker like the elevator scene in the first episode of Jessica Jones. This show takes its time and maybe we’re just not used to superhero shows (or films) being on the slow side.
Black Lives Matter
This isn’t so much a show about an indestructable hero, it’s a show about a black hero, black history and black lives. The n-word is muttered, several times. Mariah once even answers with “You know I despise that word.” In a political troubled time with race issues raging on and police shootings becoming more and more frequent, black lives matter is a very current topic (Orange is the New Black season 4 handled that topic amazingly earlier this year) and Luke Cage is here, right time. Not only in real life, but in the show as well. It doesn’t take long for Luke to be ‘outed’ as being a superhero, the one that his new home Harlem desperately needs. This is Marvel’s first black superhero installment, with the Black Panther film following in 2018.
The cast of the show is well picked. Star Mike Colter has all the charisma he needs to make Luke a loveable and indestructable character. His voice also is just perfect. Mahershala Ali is amazing to watch as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes: he is such a quiet badass with an interesting backstory. A red line throughout Netflix’ Defenders is Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson): she starred in all three shows. This time around, Claire sadly is a bit underused so hopefully she will do more the second half of the season. Luke’s love interest is Mercedes “Misty” Knight (Simone Missick), a tough police detective. Kudos for all the strong women on this show. That being said, strongest of all is Alfre Woodard who plays Mariah Dillard. This could just be the main antagonist of the second half of the season. She’s calm, dedicated and just so intriguing.
Luke Cage: slow pace
As for the story arc the first episodes: as said, it’s a slow going. Don’t expect big cliffhangers each episode to keep you going. It’s predictable at points even. Pop’s death is very tragic but you could see it coming from miles away. The mid season finale ends with Cottonmouth being beaten to death by his own cousin; a surprising turn though he certainly had it coming. New bad guy on the block Stryker is also here, with the intent of killing Luke Cage. These events hopefully lead the way to a great finish for the first season of Luke Cage, with hopefully a bit more pace.
>> Check out our review for Luke Cage Episodes 8 – 13