This is a spoiler free of the first episode of Netflix’s Luke Cage. Future reviews of the series will contain spoilers.
Netflix has been given us plenty of awesome Marvel content ever since Daredevil, and now we finally get to see Luke Cage in its entirety which dropped last weekend, and was devoured by so many that for a brief moment it may have actually caused Netflix to shut down. It was certainly worth all the hype and anticipation surrounding the series though because Mike Colter knocks it out of the park with his performance as the troubled man who is immune to bullets. Colter’s Cage always makes an impression on the audience as he handles the step up from supporting character in Jessica Jones to a lead in Luke Cage very well indeed, knocking it out of the park.
Like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage isn’t exactly a fast-moving series and it’s okay because this means that we get plenty of attention to character development. Unlike early Agents of SHIELD the show also barely references the wider events in the Marvel Universe, and it’s pretty grounded. It’s not about saving the galaxy, it’s about Harlem. In other words, don’t expect Luke to find himself dragged into space on a team up mission with the Guardians of the Galaxy during this series.
The show itself doesn’t rely on Luke Cage’s past history that quickly and there’s no cameo appearance from Jessica Jones either so viewers can pretty much delve into this without having watched any of the Marvel series before and still be good (but seriously, you need to watch Jessica Jones and Daredevil right now if you haven’t already). Showrunner Cheo Coker knows what he’s doing here (he was a co-executive producer on NCIS: Los Angeles and on Fox’s short-lived Almost Human in the past) and has experience in the television department. The portrayal of Luke is effective and initially under the radar, not worrying about any superhero stuff but instead just trying to pay his rent by struggling to keep working at two of his jobs.
Luke is not the only character introduced in this first episode though as we are introduced to Councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) who keeps her cousin Cottenmouth – or to use his real name, Cornell Stokes (Mahershala Ali) on top of the drug trade in Harlan thanks to her Government position. However Cottonmouth has to deal with plenty of contenders to his throne, among them Diamondback, who has a former history with Luke. There’s also somebody else to look out for in this pilot and that’s fan-favourite comics character Misty Knight (Simone Missick) who instantly makes an impression on the audience and will quickly become a fan-favourite here as well. I can’t wait to see what larger role Misty Knight plays in the future, especially as she’s been confirmed as returning in the ensemble series The Defenders, which features Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil, acting as the culmination of what everything has been building towards over the course of the series.
Luke Cage Season 1 is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix worldwide.