Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ is more than just a superhero show.
It looks as though Netflix has done it again with their latest Marvel TV series, ‘Luke Cage’. Based on the classic 1972 comic book character, Luke Cage (played by Mike Colter) is a black superhero with super-strength and unbreakable skin.
But unlike most heroes, he just wants to be left alone.
Following on from ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’, this is the latest show to build towards Marvel’s ‘Defenders’. But the stylish, smart and downright sensational show is more than just a superhero tie-in.
In fact, ‘Luke Cage’ might just top them all.
Fans of Marvel’s Netflix shows will know exactly who Luke Cage is - after all, he’s already made his debut on ‘Jessica Jones’. But the pair have since gone their separate ways… and it looks as though Luke isn’t looking back.
At least, not for the time being.
‘Luke Cage’ doesn’t dwell too much on what’s happened since the events of ‘Jessica Jones’. Instead, the story continues several months down the line, with very little explanation of how he got here.
We find Luke in Harlem, having moved to the New York City neighbourhood a good five months before the show begins. He’s still on the run and doesn’t want to be noticed. But this time, he’s taking that last part a bit more seriously. Clearly, Luke just wants to get on with his life, and to that end he’s found himself a job (or two) that pays cash in hand as well as a new apartment above Genghis Connie’s - a quaint little Asian restaurant with a firecracker owner who happens to be his landlord.
Not a bad little setup… but it doesn’t last long.
Introducing Cornell Stokes - aka Cottonmouth. He’s the big, bad villain played by Mahershala Ali, and after tussling with Luke’s new pals, it looks as though he’s crossed the wrong dude. He may have a criminal empire that would rival Wilson Fisk, but something tells me that this piano-playing, hardass bad guy won’t be able to stand up to Luke for long.
And that’s kind of the point.
Cornell Stokes has delusions of grandeur. He’s built himself up from nothing, but now he seems to think he’s above it all. One of the best scenes early in the series features Cornell standing in front of his painting of Biggie Smalls - a painting which features an eye-catching gold crown, which makes it look as though Cornell is the one wearing it. It’s everything we need to know about the criminal lord of Harlem.
But comic book fans will probably pay more attention to his cousin, Mariah…
Of course, there are plenty of other comic book characters who appear throughout ‘Luke Cage’ - most obviously, Misty Knight (played by Simone Missick). A Harlem detective with keen senses when it comes to a crime scene, this classic character is onto Cottonmouth. She’s keen to bring down his criminal empire, but will Luke be a help or hindrance?
Much like the rest of Marvel’s TV shows, there are plenty of references to the comic books. But again, like the other shows, ‘Luke Cage’ isn’t bound by the source material. Fans will be delighted to see Shades (played by Theo Rossi) and the elusive Diamondback (played by Erik LaRay Harvey).
There’s even a mention of Cage’s real name, and a glimpse at his classic costume.
Just don’t expect a word-for-word comic book adaptation.
Instead, ‘Luke Cage’ riffs on the source material, creating a compelling story with all the characters that comic book fans will know and love. And the origin stories of both hero and villains are utterly compelling.
Most of all, ‘Luke Cage’ is a smart, stylish comic book show which really brings something new to the genre. Mike Colter is absolutely brilliant as Luke Cage - in fact, the entire cast is just a joy to watch. The story is gripping, the visuals are spot on… but more than that, ‘Luke Cage’ gives us real diversity amongst superheroes. It’s clearly born out of the comic book’s Blaxploitation roots, and with a badass soundtrack and smooth acting, it feels like a great fit.
‘Luke Cage’ may be a little slow off the mark in its first episode, but it builds to a phenomenal story of crime, corruption and one man’s fight to turn Harlem around.
He’s the hero Harlem needs. He’s the hero we all need.
‘Luke Cage’ heads to Netflix on 30 September 2016.
Picture Credit: Netflix
Are you looking forward to ‘Luke Cage’ on Netflix? Could this top the rest of Marvel’s shows? Leave your comments below… and follow Ryan Leston on Twitter, Facebook or my official Tumblr blog for more on the latest TV shows.