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Luke Cage: Review of Netflix original series

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Marvel debuted another one of its Netflix gems Friday. Anticipation had built up since Mike Colter appeared as Luke Cage on Jessica Jones in the Marvel shared universe. So much so, Netflix servers couldn’t handle the workload. The streaming service went down for hours on Saturday, leaving viewers to watch regular cable, like animals! So just what was so exciting enough about Luke Cage that broke the internet?

Mike Colter as Luke Cage: Mike Colter is everything you’d expect out of our title character. He’s got the size to pull off the tough guy roll. However, it’s his acting ability that carries the character. Too many times shows cast a muscle-bound actor who has limited acting ability and the character suffers. Luke Cage is a vigilante of the people and to go that route would’ve doomed the show. Not only is Colter’s version of Cage believable, but he also manages to make him likable and relatable. A character with no powers to show than super strength, Colter had the challenge of bringing the character to life without the awe of devices like Mjölnir or Captain America’s shield. He nails it, earning Colter a 4/5.

Mahershala Ali as Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes: Very few times does a villain steal the show. Ali’s Cottonmouth is that villain. Cornell Stokes is the smooth talking, get anything he wants, then snap the next moment, kind of guy. It’s not long before the hero crosses paths into the crime bosses’ affairs and kicks the hornet’s nest. It takes a good actor to be able to flip-flop back and forth between the two and Ali makes it look easy. The character is played so well he’s in the running with David Tennant’s Kilgrave (Jessica Jones) as Marvel’s top tv villain. He’s one of the best parts of the show 5/5.

Simone Missick as Misty Knight: Misty Knight was one of the character’s who fell short. It wasn’t in the way that Simone Missick didn’t fit the build. However, there were great sequences that pulled viewers in that should’ve happened more often. Misty Knight works on the local police force chasing down leads on the new brand of vigilante. Strength and intelligence are Misty’s biggest assets as she can pick apart a crime with the best of them. While Missick breaks out the best of her acting abilities at times, the Misty Knight left enough on the table going forward to leave room for a darker back story for a 3.5/5

Marvel has never shied away from characters who were reflections of the time. Captain America was penned during World War II coincidentally fighting Nazis. Luke Cage’s underlying theme fits well into many social issues happening today. The one saving grace for the show is it touches on these subjects and moves on. Instead of beating a dead horse on the subject the show runners give fans the subtle hint and then advance the story.

For perspective, Luke Cage is the equivalent of tv’s Arrow. Yes, there is a man with special powers and abilities, but the show revolves primarily around power struggles within Harlem. However, that’s where the comparison ends. Even though he does have superior strength, Luke ends up just being an everyday guy fighting for his innocence and protecting his neighborhood. Rather than be a show about mystical powers, it’s a show about corruptness and perseverance.

If you compare Luke Cage to Marvel’s other Netflix properties, you’ll be disappointed. The show shares the same universe but stands out on its own. Everything from culture, tone, and plot twists are totally different. Fans who loved Jessica Jones enjoyed the plot twists and scenes of intensity. It’s is more of a straight-forward and direct drama. With that being said the show doesn’t lack in quality for it’s down to earth approach. Viewers are still treated to how Luke’s past affects his present struggle.

The hardest thing to swallow after watching Luke Cage is how the shows will all tie together. It did little to introduce future projects. Although it did drop a few easter eggs that will no doubt come to fruition in the future, Marvel may have left Iron Fist as well as second seasons to do the heavy lifting. With the plan of an Avenger’s style team up in the form of Defenders, these four shows have some connections but no plot point as of yet to move forward. Expect big things out of the next in the series. Luke Cage is a must watch if you’re following along with the fandom. Overall 7.5/10!

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]