Thought I’d bring something new to the table this week. I’ve been meaning to review a TV series at some point and Marvel’s newest addition to the Netflix library seemed like the most opportune time to do so. That said, let’s break down Luke Cage.

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Luke Cage is the third installment in Marvel & Netflix’s universe lineup of shows behind Daredevil and Jessica Jones and tells the story of Luke Cage, a man who was a part of a sabotaged experiment that gave him superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. Now being hunted down as a fugitive, Luke Cage attempts to rebuild his life in Harlem while combating the demons of his past and protecting the heart of the city.

If you don’t know by now, the Marvel/Netflix partnership have consistently nailed it with their shows. Daredevil S1 & S2 were awesome, Jessica Jones S1 was just as good, which I’d highly recommend checking those shows out first before you watch this show.

So would it really surprise you if I said Luke Cage was just as great as those shows? Because that’s what I’m going to say: this show is so damn good. Marvel & Netflix did it again.

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Mike Colter is incredibly charismatic as Luke Cage, this guy is a fantastic actor. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to have as your cool, quippy, but serious bodyguard (sorry Sinbad, First Kid isn’t cutting it). Colter’s character is very well realized and fleshed out throughout the show. You know exactly what kind of person he is, where he’s coming from, and why he’s approaching certain situations the way he is. Mr. Colter, you’re a straight up badass in the best way.

The supporting cast deserves to be praised as well, there’s not one weak performance. I’m not going to name them all, but the standout that comes to mind is Marhershala Ali. Ali plays a “Godfather-like” villain known as Cottonmouth and his portrayal can be best described as chilling and at times, unsettling. This man is scary. The best villains are the ones that you can understand where they’re coming from and Cottonmouth falls into that category. Without spoiling, this is a very, very strong showing from Ali.

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The fight choreography of this show is also beautifully well shot. The fight scenes are very smooth and easy to tell what’s happening on screen, no shaky cam to be found. Not to mention, the scenes where Luke Cage is brawling are very exciting and extremely crowd pleasing. In short, it’s incredibly badass and real fun to watch.

My favorite aspects of this show have to be the depicting of Harlem itself and its social commentary. Harlem is just as much of a character as Luke Cage is. It’s presented in very gritty, dingy atmosphere that is really subversive for the audience. The narrative is also very aware of African American culture and truly embraces it, as well as celebrates it throughout the show in small samples.

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As far as the issues I have with this season go, it’s mainly the storyline after the first half of the season. Somewhere in between episodes 7 & 8, it seemed like the show lost a little focus with its storytelling and character arcs. Nothing is bad about the direction the show took after episode 7, but’s just not as fulfilling as when the show started. I think the introductions of these two newly, developed villains kinda felt rushed and the payoff at the end is just… Ehh, alright.  

However every time an episode ended, I was eager to start the next episode ASAP because the show still remained very entertaining and compelling. This is still one of the most easiest binging experience I’ve had on Netflix yet.

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All in all, I really enjoyed the first season of Luke Cage as a whole. This is easily one of the most ambitious and boldest Marvel shows I’ve seen next to Daredevil and Jessica Jones. It’s got a stellar cast, engaging characters, a well written script, badass fight choreography, beautiful cinematography and a dope jazzy soundtrack. Aside from its storytelling issues towards the end, they’re just minor flaws to improve upon for a (hopeful) second season.

I’m going to give Luke Cage – Season 1 an “A-” on the TV grading scale. Netflix knocked out of the park once again and I’d highly recommend giving this show a watch if you’re looking for something new to binge. Stay on the lookout for Iron Fist next year in March!

As always, thanks so much for reading and make sure to stay posted to Frank’s Takes for more reviews. Until next time, keep it 100.

– Frank

 

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