Is Marvel’s Luke Cage bulletproof?

It seems like these Netflix shows are starting to bang the same drum. Let me pitch this to you: there’s a show with a superhero, they are struggling financially, are up against some form of mob boss/criminal and are unsure of their abilities. Which property is it? DaredevilJessica JonesLuke Cage? It’s all of them. This unoriginality beat me across the face a few episodes in.

One thing that came as a nice surprise with Luke Cage is the setting. The neighbourhood of Harlem felt comfortably filled by an array of talented black actors. We haven’t really seen many black characters in Marvel up to now, and it seems that Luke Cageand the upcoming film Black Panther are aiming to change that. All of the performances are solid; Mike Colter’s ‘Cage’ is a corny, quiet man, but he shows off Cage’s strength and his caring character. Simone Missick plays ‘Misty’, the detective whose brash character and strong will make the ‘Police Procedural’ aspect of the show a joy to watch. For me though, Theo Rossi’s ‘Shades’ is by far the best character. He is part of a complex web of power which he intends to climb, whilst his calm demeanour hides his scheming and brutal ways.

With every episode being named after a Gang Starr song and Method Man even writing a song for the show, it’s obvious that the show has strong ties to music and Hip-Hop. This link extends to most episodes too, as the club ‘Harlem’s Paradise’ features real artists most episodes. This idea is brilliant, and helps set it apart from the other Netflix programmes, despite their aforementioned similarities – except perhaps the recent success of Netflix Original The Get Down.

The show’s pacing is not brilliant; although Cage’s bulletproof antics provide some great moments, the show somewhat falls short in progressing a saturated story that could have been shortened down to ten episodes without loss. It’s also impossible to compare the fight scenes to that of Daredevil, which involve gritty martial arts and skill. Luke Cages are uninspired fistfights that usually end with someone being thrown through a window.

That brings us to the ending of the series: an uninspired fistfight which was poorly executed. The climax didn’t fit the show and to top it all off, the fight finishes with half an hour of the episode left to go, which made for a dissappointing ending.

In the end, Luke Cage is enjoyable television, but suffers from being in the Netflix Marvel universe of shows; it has too many similarities to the others, but also in some ways doesn’t  stack up to them at all. Despite it bringing interesting elements to the table, we will just have to wait for The Defenders, and see if that does for comic book shows what the Avengers did for comic book movies; blow all others out of the water.

Will Nelson


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