Marvel’s Luke Cage Starts Slow but Strong

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Marvel’s Luke Cage Series Premiere Plot Summary:

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) finds it difficult to live a low profile life in Harlem, NY as tension builds due to club owner Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali).

With the debut of Daredevil in April 2015 and then Jessica Jones in November 2015, Marvel and Netflix have teamed together to create outstanding shows. When Daredevil first came out, I really liked it. But that lasted all of about 5 seconds. Daredevil was, to me, just a bunch of dumb fight scenes. There wasn’t much character, wasn’t much heart. It was boring but cinematic. Then Jessica Jones came out and was everything Daredevil wasn’t. It was full of character evolution, actual conversations, almost zero violence. It was, and is, amazing. So here we are. September 2016 and the premiere of Luke Cage. Three Defenders down, one to go.

Going in, I had higher hopes than I did for either Jessica Jones or Daredevil. We were already introduced to Luke Cage during Jessica Jones. I liked his appearances on that show and therefore was looking forward to the premiere of his own.

Marvel's Luke Cage
(Photo Credit: Netflix)

I think it held up. But there were a few things that curbed the excellence of this first episode. Right off the bat, the beginning credit sequence was entirely too long. Especially for the instrumental song, which was slow and quiet. This, I came to find out, was a foreshadowing of the pace of the episode. “Moment of Truth” was a slow, quiet burn to the final moments when Luke Cage (Colter) took up the hero mantle. We already know he’s a superhero, not just because of the nature of the show but because of his time on Jessica Jones. I don’t think that the slow burn was worth it for the reveal because at times “Moment of Truth” dragged on. My hope is that the rest of the season will pick up as he does more hero stuff and builds his support team

Cheo Hodari Choker, creator and writer, has imbued the show with a sense of reality. Luke Cage lives in the world of the Avengers and obviously superheroes, but the troubles these characters face are all too common and real. As an older man in the community, Pop (Franky Faison) tries to give the young black boys a way out from the streets. But as we see in the case of Chico (Brian “Sene” Marc), Shameek (Jermel Howard) and Dante (Hugues Faustin), it doesn’t always work. Luke himself is just trying to live a quiet life and pay his rent, made hard by the fact he has to get paid under the table. Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), Cottonmouth’s (Ali) cousin, is a corrupt politician. There’s almost no need for a superhero, until the very end when Luke’s landlords are being threatened by Cottonmouth’s men to pay money for “protection.” I think this is a stength for the show because it means the world and the characters were built before the superhero scenes, which without a backbone mean nothing. As it is, Luke Cage going at it with Cottonmouth’s men was awesome. However, a determined detective would have fit the bill just as easily as Luke.

Marvel's Luke Cage
(Photo Credit: Netflix)

Speaking of which, my favorite character is Misty Knight (Simone Missick). First off, I love strong lady detectives. If there was one thing I wish I could be, it’s a detective. But since I am too much of a wimp for that, I live vicariously through these awesome, fictional woman. I’m not sure yet what her exact role is going to be in the show, I just know it’s going to be good.

New stories from different perspectives need to be told. The world is not comprised of only straight white men. There are other genders, other races, other sexual orientations whose stories and experiences should be told. Having diversity is important in front of the screen but is equally important behind it. The people creating new shows should be just as diverse, to lend different perspectives so that art will truly imitate reality. I believe Luke Cage has this, and it makes a difference.

RATING: 7 OUT OF 10

Season 1 of Luke Cage Is Streaming Now on Netflix

Marley Ghizzone is the current music editor and former Breaking News Editor for The Pop Break. Aside from writing news, Marley reviews television shows and the odd film. Pop culture is her drug of choice and her talents include binge watching entire seasons of TV shows obsessively fast and crying over fictional characters. Marley is a graduate of Rowan University. Follow her on twitter: @marleyveee