Neil Godbole ’17
THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW
On September 30th, Marvel released its newest 13 episode, live-action superhero series on Netflix. Within a day of its release, Netflix, maybe the world’s most popular and most used source for binge-watching television shows, had its servers taken down for two hours due to user traffic. Suffice to say, people were excited about Luke Cage.
Some of the excitement no doubt came from previously released Marvel Netflix shows, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Both shows were critically acclaimed in their own right, and both shows share the same cinematic universe as Luke Cage. So, there was no denying that the release of the miniseries was highly anticipated, but how is the show itself? Storywise, the show takes the form of a gang thriller with some superpowers added into the mix to make things more interesting. Mike Colter plays Luke Cage, a quiet yet strong and surprisingly philosophical man on the run from a dangerous past. At the start of the show, Luke is hiding out in Harlem, the main setting of the series. The early episodes put Luke on a dangerous collision course with gang boss Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes and his politically-savvy cousin Mariah Dillard. Stokes is played by wonderful actor Mahershala Ali (from the Wire) who expertly manages to convey his gang boss persona with smooth grace and terrifying ferocity at the same time. The first four or five episodes lay the groundwork for the conflict between Luke and Cottonmouth as they engage in a battle for the soul of Harlem’s streets while still hinting at deeper secrets to come later in the story. These first episodes are a joy to watch as Luke uses his awesome powers to mow through gang members and his sense of morality to inspire the people of Harlem.
Around the middle episodes, however, the show slows down considerably, and the story takes a somewhat unexpected turn. While new revelations do come into the fold, they do weaken the overall narrative of the show. The series becomes less of an urban gang story and more of a sort of family feud. While still compelling, the plot does become weaker as the show goes past its seventh episode. The acting is great, as Colter plays Luke Cage wonderfully as a man who is a true hero at heart but is actively trying to bury that part of himself. The villains Cottonmouth and Dillard are written and acted very well, as both present two different sides of underworld crime, a gang boss and a corrupt, ruthless politician. The soundtrack of the show is truly noteworthy, however, as the music expertly captures the feel of an urban neighborhood like Harlem, and it goes along well with the show’s action sequences. Overall, this show was a blast to watch and a wonderful way to get terribly behind on school work! While maybe not as impressive as Daredevil or Jessica Jones, it is still very entertaining and has its own feel. I would give this show a solid 8/10. Thanks for reading!