If you have watched Jessica Jones, you probably already know Luke Cage (Mike Colter). But while we got a glimpse of his backstory in the former series, here’s where Marvel and Netflix go deeper into Power Man’s origins. We learn that he’s a product of a(nother) failed(?) Super Soldier experiment. It was then that he acquired his superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. Though the comics say otherwise but, in the TV series, Carl Lucas is a cop accused of a crime he didn’t commit. They didn’t really address the what and the why but it is in prison that Luke gets his powers. It is also where he met Reva Connors – the girl Jessica Jones killed while under Kilgrave’s control. Reva turns out to be a psychiatrist in the facility where he is locked up and he develops feelings for her. Carl eventually discovers that Reva was only testing him for Dr. Noah Burstein’s experiment. Later on, he escapes and goes into hiding as Luke Cage.
It’s hard to keep a low profile, though, especially for someone like Luke. He runs afoul of Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes (Mahershala Ali), a gang leader who seeks to make Harlem his personal empire, and his cousin, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), a politician with lofty goals yet questionable morals. Things really escalate when Pop, the man who ‘adopts’ Cage, is gunned down at his own barbershop. Luke makes it his personal mission to bring Cottonmouth to justice.
In my opinion, those first eight episodes were awesome! Too bad there were seven more. Luke’s half-brother, Willis ‘Diamondback’ Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey), has been plotting his revenge on him this whole time. The action in the latter part was okay as it was the only time you felt that Cage is vulnerable. But the storytelling was a bit muddled and I didn’t like Diamondback as much as I did Cottonmouth. The sad part is he’ll be back for future seasons if Netflix decides to renew Luke Cage.
Perhaps the coolest thing about the series is its use of music. They used songs as the episode titles and there are full performances in some parts. Method Man from the Wu-Tang Clan even makes a cameo and performs Bulletproof Love in one. I also read that they planned to have Prince do a song but his untimely death made that impossible. Cottonmouth playing his organ are probably some of my favorite moments from the 13-episode series.
While the dynamic between Luke and Cornell was great, it was also cool to witness a character like Misty Knight. I never knew of her until this series and I love how Simone Wissick has portrayed her. In this she’s a detective who really wants to fulfill her duty to serve and protect her city. She is such a badass and the love triangle between her, Luke, and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) will surely resurface in future installments. Claire was also amazing in this, by the way.
I think the producers really did a fantastic job in coming up with how Luke Cage looks and feels. It’s very different from Daredevil and Jessica Jones and I can’t wait to see what Iron Fist will be like. But for now, I’m giving Luke Cage 3 out of 5 stars.