So guys, here it is, Luke Cage, my take on the whole series, how well it integrates itself into the Netflix MCU, the wider MCU and where I think it could go in the future. Now I know I shouldn’t have to say it, and I’ve waited a little while to make sure my opinion is clear and not simply hype based and to make sure you guys have had time to watch, but…
Firstly I have to speak on the music, like no surprise, I am mainly a music writer and I do deal mainly in hip-hop and it’s various sonic homies but just so this brings a little extra context you guys should know by now I live for the funk, I die for the funk (catch the reference?) and the jazz too, so the entire score behind this was something I’d been watching and waiting for well ahead of time. So buckets hats off to Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammed (of ATCQ fame).
The continuous cameo’s by legends like Faith Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Charles Bradley coupled with new school head Jidenna and others I won’t name simply to save some digging pleasure for you. It cuts though that Prince was being requested to make one of the live appearances, and the swear jar was actually an olive branch of sorts to him and his well-known disdain of profanity. As a lifelong Prince fan it both hurts and makes me smile to know he could have been involved in this. Oh and the episode titles? If you don’t know google Gangstarr…(R.I.P GURU)
Marvel comes to Harlem…
Next, Harlem baby. What more can I say? Harlem is known the world over for its influence on the afro-Caribbean diaspora and to see it portrayed on-screen so faithfully (or at least as faithfully as I can interpret it) was incredible. It felt like you were really there, wholly immersed in the borough and all its melanated magnificence. Which brings me to a point…I’ll try to be quick.
You *ahem* people taking issue with this show because there are not enough *ahem* people in there, you *ahem* people calling diversity issue I got a message for you. Every show on the air practically since the invention of TV has been almost entirely populated by you, there has been no diversity.
This is a show set in Harlem, in New York City, one of the most racially diverse cities in the world and it’s, well excuse my bluntness…blackest borough. Therefore there is no diversity issue here, it shows exactly who it’s supposed to for once, in all roles and walks of life as well.
You *ahem* people need to cut the talk and claims of being comic fans or whatever because if I hear one more ludicrous claim that this “makes you uncomfortable” I’m being dead as when I say I’ll strap on a pair of Timberland boots and top rock over your *ahem* behind from Brooklyn to Queens, Bronx to Manhattan and everything in between.
Back to happier points, this show slots in perfectly, still managing to tie itself into Daredevil subtly but well enough via Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson’s character) small references to Jessica Jones via certain radio talk shows and shotgun anecdotes.
It does what all these shows have done so well so far, it stays isolated enough to ensure its own identity but at the same time remains close enough to the rest for you to sense the overarching influence and intention, after all every borough of NY has it’s own feel, taste, smell, vibe but it’s all still NY, and that’s something I feel is exemplified perfectly.
In regards to the rest of the MCU and it’s loftier heights, it still does its part. The events uptown are well remembered but it’s something that pales in comparison realistically to the day to day struggles of the everyday folk in Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen and the sort. This is shown easily when Luke Cage is repeatedly badgered about making a connection with the Avengers and the other enhanced individuals he simply wishes to be left alone to do what he does.
What’s a hero without a good villain or two though right? I personally feel like the Netflix MCU might be outdoing its big brother for villains, maybe it’s the medium of a series vs films but hey, it’s a valid discussion, maybe for another time though. Cottonmouth edged it for me to be honest, Diamondback was cool but kind of annoying, but he played his part well, he’s the villain you’re supposed to hate.
Cottonmouth on the other hand as we delved deeper into his origin, the abusive childhood he had, his unfulfilled dreams as a musician while he watched Mariah get everything she ever wanted. Speaking of Mariah, personally, I look forward to seeing where the character goes after all this prompting from Shades.
Plus I would be remiss if I didn’t speak on one of the biggest parts of this entire show, this ensemble of beautiful women playing strong roles and not playing to the background either. In an era where as I’ve said before representation and portray more importantly perhaps as such big issues it’s nice to see women being allowed to be just that, women.
The fact we see Misty Knight being totally fine to jump in bed with Luke but not be controlled via plot by that one encounter, still handle her business and still be fine as hell (Simone Missick you have a new fan), Claire Temple kicking some serious ass and yes, Mariah doing her boss lady thang, I think we can comfortably say the entire female cast were slaying!
Now what I want to see out of another season…this is an interesting question, first off you need to jack his powers up. He looks too close to Captain America for my liking in terms of physical output. I know cap should be able to kick his butt in skill terms but Cap should be hitting him like it’s nothing, Cap should throw a punch and pause like “oh sh*t” (language Mr Rogers…) so that would be nice, please? I also need to see him go through some training he’s gonna be running with Iron Fist and Daredevil, I wanna see him pick a few things up.
I also want to see more villains enter the fold, I don’t know if anyone picked up on it but I think the seeds for Tombstone were shown for example and more Hero For Hire shenanigans for real.
Before I sign out though I have to say, this show carried an incredible message, to sit there and see a bulletproof black man, openly articulate his issues with the police and prison system in America. The hoodie throughout the entire show carries the message that just because you see a black man in a hoodie doesn’t always mean they’re a threat and I wholeheartedly applaud that such an image was carried so well.
So there you go homies, my take on Luke Cage, let me know what you guys thought, for now back to waiting for Iron Fist, until next times guys.