Warning: There are some minor spoilers ahead.
“Luke Cage” may not become as popular as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” but it’s a show you’re definitely going to binge when it’s released September 30.
First introduced as a character in last fall’s “Jessica Jones,” Netflix’s latest Marvel show follows Cage (Mike Colter), a force of nature who has superhuman strength and happens to be bulletproof.
The events in “Luke Cage” are about five months after we last see him in “Jessica Jones.” Cage has snuck away to Harlem and is laying low as a barbershop sweeper and a dishwasher at a Harlem nightclub.
The first episode of “Luke Cage” is a bit slow. There’s a bunch of set up to get Cage back up on his feet after drawing a lot of attention to himself in “Jessica Jones.” Cage just wants to live a normal life, but he soon has to accept that he’s just not a normal guy.
He finds a mentor and father figure in a barbershop owner who’s known around town as “Pops.” If you’re familiar with Spider-Man’s story at all — “with great power comes great responsibility” — you may be having some serious déjà vu when Pops starts telling Cage that he has to put his abilities to better use.
If you’re feeling like the start of the series is a bit predictable, hang in there. There’s enough intrigue and stellar performances from the cast that it pays off in episode two. From there, “Cage” starts to hit its stride and it doesn’t slow down throughout the seven episodes INSIDER reviewed.
Cage is at his finest when he’s taking names and stopping a barrage of bullets coming his way. Cage seizes an opportunity to act as the buffer between the King of Harlem Cornell Stokes aka Cottonmouth (played brilliantly by Mahershala Ali) and the young, impressionable black youth who are being pressured to join his ranks.
Cage makes it his mission to single-handedly attempt to stop all gun use in Harlem while reminding the community of their heritage along the way.
When the “Black Lives Matter” movement is in the news every other day, and senseless killings plague nightly broadcasts, the series couldn’t come at a more relevant time.
However, irrationally using your brute strength just to make a point and get back at the King of Harlem may have been a rash decision as Cage quickly learns.
If you loved Ali as Remy Denton on “House of Cards,” he takes a deliciously wicked turn as Cottonmouth.
Though you should be rooting against him, he’s magnetic to watch — Cottonmouth is ignited by his passion to rule Harlem while also wheeling and dealing guns and drugs to build his own empire. He’s equally matched by his cousin Mariah Stokes, played by Alfre Woodard.
One thing the show does superbly is showcasing strong, independent women, including Detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Mariah Stokes (Woodard), and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), the former night nurse and one of the common thread’s between Marvel’s Netflix series.
These aren’t damsels in distress and all of them can more than hold their own.
The trio may be without super powers, but they each command the limelight every time they’re on screen, sometimes even outshining our hero with his brute strength. (How many times are the bad guys going to continually try to shoot a bulletproof man? We get it. Cage is impervious to bullets. He goes through a lot of clothes.)
For anyone who has been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are a few very noticeable nods to the Avengers. Seven episodes in, I’m still crossing my fingers for some other cameos. Daredevil and Jessica Jones aren’t THAT far away from Harlem in Hell’s Kitchen, after all.
Interestingly, episode seven ends on its own little cliffhanger and kind of hits the reset button so that it appears as if you may be getting two mini seasons within the 13 episode arc.
Even if Luke Cage isn’t your favourite Marvel hero or Netflix Marvel series, you’re definitely going to bingewatch this one.
All 13 hour-long episodes of “Luke Cage” will be available to stream September 30.
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