I almost feel like there is nothing left to say about Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix that already hasn’t already been said. There have been some very positive and glowing reviews of the series – created and executive produced by Cheo Hodari Coker – which upon its release, briefly crashed the servers over at Netflix. In hopes of not repeating many of the same sentiments of those reviews like “Luke Cage is unapologetically Black”, I did jot down my thoughts and feelings in real time while binge watching the series.
Luke Cage: A 15 Point *Spoiler Free* Review
1. I loved the balance of Black male representation. We see real life common depictions of masculine sensible and sensitive Black men; contrast with the murderous Black males of the series. Even though the villains (Cottonmouth and Diamondback) were blotches on their communities, we witness the hands of the parental or authoritarian females and males in their early developmental lives that cause their current manifestations.
2. Social media is full of muscled chiseled 6% body fat gym bods…Luke Cage is not those dudes. Cage (Mike Colter) is a muscular thick dude and displays a more natural gym body.
3. This series doesn’t feel like Tony Stark’s-The Avengers-Daredevil’s New York. This feels like a community. It feels like a neighborhood. Daredevil’s Hell’s Kitchen is a place; Luke Cage’s Harlem is a character in the series.
4. The series is interwoven with social commentary concerning politics, racism, drugs, gun violence, hood riches, hypocrisy of the Black church, fatherless homes, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, Black history, incest and even briefly touching on transgender abuse.
5. The tone or internal conflict is not like that of other Netflix Marvel series. The other series’ lead characters (Daredevil and Jessica Jones) are brooding tormented individuals who seem like they need a hug and a therapist. Luke Cage (even though he has troubles) feels grounded. He is trying to decide is he a public or private hero while kicking ass and taking some of the spoils.
6. Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) is easily the standout of the series. I can think of or envision other Black male actors who could have possibly played Luke Cage; I can’t envision any other actor playing Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes.
7. Alfre Woodard’s ‘Mariah Dillard’ is the villain we didn’t know we needed. We witness her development from larva, pupae to adult villainy whose character changes the show midstream. Episodes 6-7 completely flips the show on its head.
8. Fighting choreography kinda left much to be desired for me. This doesn’t mean the action is not entertaining (it is); It’s just that it was not as entertaining as Daredevil’s martial arts action but is well above Jessica Jone’s. Luke Cage is about “throwing them hands”, hood style.
9. Cottenmouth’s laugh is everything. It may can only be eclipsed by the Joker’s evil laugh.
10. The “science” behind creating Luke Cage aka Power Man within the series is weak, wack, corny and so not believable. To me, this was the biggest let down and downside of the series.
11. Being honest, I didn’t like Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey). His character looks like Sticky Fingaz and Samuel L Jackson had a son. It’s not that the actor didn’t do a good job at playing the character; I just didn’t like the character. Without spoiling the story it just seems like he could have been saved for season two and manifested himself as a ‘Coldfire’ mash up.
12. Regardless if we like to discuss it or not, colorism exists within and outside of the African American community. Many view lighter complexion Black people as more desirable or attractive. I bring this up not because I’m color struck but because Mike Colter’s very dark complexion, I feel adds to his overall appeal which is needed in mainstream spaces.
13. Shades (Theo Rossi) needs recognition! His character is a conduit that moves the story forward.
14. Watching Luke Cage feels like I’m in 1995, getting a haircut, with BET’s Rap City on the television and a radio is tuned into a Black radio station blasting Reakwon in the background. Luke Cage is soul, r&b, jazz and hip hop…just like Harlem the music is a character in the story. The title of each episode is a different title track from the 90’s rap duo Gang Starr. Yes there is the ever watchful Biggie Smalls “Crown” portrait that hangs in Cottonmouth’s office but there is also the presence of D-Nice, Wu-Tang, Nas and ODB (in the promos), in addition to soul music running throughout the story.
15. Cage’s signature hoodie is a direct homage to Trayvon Martin, who was murdered while wearing a hoodie. A hoodie is always present, acknowledging that simply by existing, many view Black males as threats.
Of all Netflix’s Marvel series so far, Luke Cage is easily in the top position. The only stand-alone solo series I could see dethroning Cage is The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) series that is currently filming. At any rate, Long Live the Chief.