Luke Cage - TV Review
In Three Words: Refreshing, Fun, Different
There are many things that people can hate when it comes to living in the 21st Century and the tsunami of superhero films/TV shows that have come in the past 10-15 years could be one of them.
"Ah they're all the same!" is the basic statement.
Sure superhero films and TV shows are fundamentally basic when you delve into theory. In the beginning there's equilibrium, then the villain arrives to disrupt that equilibrium. The hero is forced to action and they battle it out, ending usually in the hero winning.
That is the usual way most stories, especially superhero films/shows pan out. It's just fact. But that doesn't stop people from making something unique and different. Luke Cage, is different.
A bulletproof black man, living in Harlem. Imagine being pitched that one sentence? You will most likely say "I am intrigued". Now of course there are many superheroes that are bulletproof but what is so good about this show is the time it came out. Accounting for the social state of America in this moment in time, this show is perfect. In the social media era, the unnecessary killings of black people have caused a rift in the country, eerily similar to the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago. Think about that and then watch this show. It's very refreshing. A guy that just wants to live his life but is forced to battle power hungry criminals that use the system to their advantage.
In reality, black people are at a systematic disadvantage, but then comes Luke Cage who simply does what he does because it is the right thing to do. This show couldn't come at a better time.
It is not just the initial concept that makes this a great show. The performances and character chemistry is just on point. The two stand outs, funny enough, the main villains! Mariah Dillard and Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes played by Alfre Woodard and Mahershala Ali. They were so compelling as a tandem. So great in fact, I was genuinely sad when Cornell was killed. Now on one hand I was sad because he was without doubt my favourite character on the show but in terms of storytelling it was well though out. That episode contained flashbacks, giving the audience a glimpse of Stokes' past. We realised that he wanted to be a musician, not a gangster but because he was taken in by Mama Mabel, "Queenpin" of Harlem back in the day, he was considered the heir to the throne and was forced to ditch his true talent. He also killed Pistol Pete who was the only person that supported Cornell's music. That episode was the best in my opinion. It was the equivalent of a mid-season finale but lucky for a mid-season finale hater like me, it was on Netflix so the pivotal nature of that episode was immediately recognisable once the series was finished.
Minor tangent, what I really enjoy about all this superhero stuff we're getting is the way they have managed to make comic book superheroes mainstream but also show love to the dedicated readers that know everything about whatever universe is being showcased. How hard must it be to cater to die hard fans and casual fans at the same time?
Back to the show. One negative for me was Diamondback. Was it just me or was he a bit off as a character? Maybe it was because he was slotted in Cottonmouth's main villain seat in such a short amount of time and I was still mourning about how boss Cornell was. But the dude's character seemed very cartoonish for my liking. At this moment I will give the actor Eric LaRay Harvey the benefit of the doubt but D'Back wasn't all that for me. He didn't grip me like Mariah and Cornell did.
For hardcore Marvel TV Universe fans you were treated to multiple Rosario Dawson sightings as Claire. Who seems to be the moral compass for Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Will she hook up Iron Fist and become the Nick Fury of the Marvel TV department?
While researching this show for this review I encountered the word "Blaxploitation" a few times. Now if you're my film studies teachers Ms Dietman and Mrs Poole, you will know that I have a great interest in the "Blaxploitation Era". A time in the 70's where black filmmakers made films they wanted. Not quality films by any means but it was an interesting time in American film. Luke Cage is not Blaxploitation but it does have minor elements of it. With cool as hell villains that everybody loves and a great soundtrack always laced in the background . This show goes real black at times and it is so fun to see.
Speaking of black. The melanin that is jam packed in this show is beautiful. The representation in this show is great and honestly just gets me even more hyped for Black Panther that is filled to the brim with notable BME actors.
LOOK AT THE MELANIN! And those are just the women!
Overall the show is a great story with a tasty twist in the middle and an ending that is a nice cliffhanger. Not an explosive ending but fufilling. The casting was on point and worked very well. The music was prevalent throughout but didn't overpower the show. The classic "Blaxploitation" elements gave the show an old soul feel which I liked. With everything going on in America this show was almost an alternative reality where if we had a bulletproof black man the black people of the US would hail him like they did on the show. A solid show, a fun show. But most importantly, something different.