Marvel’s newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) “Luke Cage”, has made its premiere and it does not disappoint. Right away the show takes a different approach and tone from its counterparts that works well. “Luke Cage” has a much lighter feel to it than the extremely dark and gritty “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” shows. The show is still very grounded and street-level, but it finds more ways to incorporate humor and levity. Also, the show is set in Harlem, and takes advantage of its vibrant musical culture with its east coast rap and jazz filled soundtrack.
As for the characters, Marvel seems to have once again created a great blend of its lead and secondary characters. Mike Colter as Luke Cage does a great job at capturing the characters gentle giant side. His relationship with Pops and his strict use of the swear jar in the barber shop really makes it easy to see the characters humanity and to make him relatable. His struggle to decide whether or not to be a hero sets up an interesting arc to explore over the course of the season, and his love for his city will certainly make it hard for him to stay on the sidelines as Cottonmouth’s gangs continue to tear up the streets. Also, the episode has hinted toward Luke’s mysterious past, allows viewers to look forward to learning more about him as the season continues.
Secondary characters are well sketched and driven by strong performances. Villains Cottonmouth and Black Mariah are used well, and seem like they will pose a unique threat. Like Wilson Fisk in “Daredevil”, Cottonmouth runs the streets as a mob boss, while Black Mariah is a politician working with Cottonmouth to secure herself a position of power within Harlem. These characters allow us a more in depth look into how deep corruption and crime runs through the streets of New York. Cottonmouth’s role is interesting, and looks to be a good rival to clash with Luke. Black Mariah has potential, but felt a little out of place at times early on. Hopefully the show will flesh out her character more and provide her with more purpose over the course of the season.
Detective Misty Knight also grabbed my attention in these early episodes. Not only are her incredible detective skills interesting, but her feisty attitude and drive to serve justice make her a compelling character. Also, the romantic tension between her and Luke should provide an interesting dynamic between the two as the season plays out and Luke becomes a vigilante. I hope that Misty begins to take on a larger role and share in the spotlight as one of the shows heroes.
The first episode of Luke Cage was outstanding. The new tone the show has set for itself allows it to separate from the other shows while still using the grounded approach that made them so successful. The characters all have great potential to develop over the season, and since the series is available on Netflix viewers don’t have to wait to find out what is in store for Marvel’s newest hero.