Luke Cage: Netflix Season 1 Short Review

     Marvel's Luke Cage hit Netflix last Friday, and of course I binged it over the weekend.  After his debut in Jessica Jones we only wanted more of Mike Coulter as the titular hero, and now we get his origin story as well as his answering the call of being a hero.  Netflix's Marvel shows take a much better approach to the material than the generally rushed pace of the films- and here the slow burn works extremely well in Cage's favor.  It gives things time to grow.

     Luke Cage is back in Harlem trying to make ends meet working multiple jobs for cash just to get by with the backdrop of a large crime network making life tough for all the people around him.  Luke Cage is a very welcome portrait of a hero- he's just a guy trying to do right and avoid causing any harm that comes from being an indestructible man on the hero's journey.  A cliched tale done with a new perspective.

     The show starts beautifully with the first two villains.  They are brilliantly handled through the series.  Mariah Dillard and Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes are a great take on a crime family with extremely well thought out story arcs.  Stokes shines as a criminal mastermind with musical genius and history that could've led down a completely different path, and Dillard is the epitome of political corruption and ruthlessness.
     Sadly, the secondary major villain Diamondback feels like a letdown.  His story felt forced and he's relegated to a Bible-quote spouting psychotic with money, power, and inexplicable access to resources that seem far outside of his range.  He just feels flat after seeing how well crafted Stokes and Dillard were.  Even Diamondback's underlings Shades and Zip come across as much more interesting.

     As for the other heroes, Claire "The Night Nurse" Temple is good, and Cage himself feels a little wooden despite Coulter's charm and Oscar Statue looks, but the real star of the series is Simone Missick's Misty Knight.  She is a fully capable, smart, and active Detective through the whole show- keeping things moving every bit as much as Cage himself does.  There were even times I felt she carried it better, such as through the pseudoscience moments of Cage needing medical attention from Claire and the scientist.  There's just something about those episodes that didn't quite sit right for me, they felt just slightly out of place.

     Another thing I would like to mention is the sheer amount of thought they put into the soundtrack is phenomenal.  Each song is the ideal choice to add to the story being told, pushing the emotions of the moment- which is something the Marvel movies tend to lack.

     Netflix's Luke Cage is saturated in the Harlem feel, a top notch aesthetic for the show, from the music to the visuals and every actor- they were all not just deliberately chosen, but perfectly chosen as well.  It's a whole new aspect of the Marvel universe that was, for me at least, much better than Jessica Jones or Daredevil's, and I can't wait to see what they've got planned for next.  There were numerous little Easter Eggs, including one for the Luke's upcoming bromance partner's show Iron Fist, and the absolute best possible homage to Cage's hilarious 70's outfit possible.
     I've got to say, Luke Cage has cemented the fact for me that the Marvel's Netflix shows are the best of the Marvel cinematic universe, better than many of the films, just as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. somehow manages to be one of the worst.  That's considering the fact the second half of the season's villain was relatively lackluster and nowhere near as well done as the first half's was.

     Luke Cage will return in 2017's The Defenders.

PS: Ron Cephas Jones' Bobby Fish is my 2nd favorite character next to Misty Knight.  He has so many great lines.  "I just fixed this place up all perfect and shit!"

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