An iconic African-American superhero is coming to Harlem and on Netflix. Our opinion on the season 1 of the series Luke Cage by Cheo Hadori Cocker.
After a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) becomes a fugitive trying to rebuild his life in modern day Harlem, New York City. But he is soon pulled out of the shadows and must fight a battle for the heart of his city – forcing him to confront a past he had tried to bury.
An African-American superhero
After the surprise success of the feature film The Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), there are more and more films and TV series on secondary superheroes. Thus, it is not surprising to find on Netflix the African-American superhero Luke Cage, aka Power Man, created in 1972 by Archie Goodwin, John Romita and George Tuska at the time of the blaxploitation wave in the United.
So, the series Luke Cage tells the adventure of a Marvel comic fiction superheroand is part of the ambitious Nteflix/Marvel project of the adaptation in real shots of five comics: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders — this latest series will bring together these four superheroes.
A weak pilot but…
As a series from a comic book, the season 1 of Luke Cage starts very slowly. Indeed, the pilot begins with a long sequence of indoor dialogues with the barber of the neighborhood, Henry “Pop” Hunter, played by Frankie Faison (The Wire, Banshee). This scene gives more the impression of being part of a chatty sitcom rather than a series of action. And even later, the detour to Harlem’s Paradise, the trendy club of the great villain of the series, Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes, played by Mahershala Ali (Treme, House of Cards), does not take away that first impression.
Of course, this episode where it is difficult not to see time passes serves mainly to set the context of the series, in the heart of Harlem, and to show us the various protagonists of the series, including the famous Luke Cage that the viewers have already seen in the series Jessica Jones. Still played by Mike Colter (Following, The Good Wife), this character is presented to us as:
- lonely and haunted by a traumatic past in a prison,
- attractive with the seduction games between him and two female characters very interested in him, like Lieutenant Detective Misty Knight, played by Simone Missick (Wayward Pines),
- reserved and making a point of honour of paying honestly his bills, even if he has to do more odd jobs (at Pop’s barber shop and at Harlem’s Paradise).
In short, in this weak pilot, each character is introduced to us but there is not much going on. And we have to wait for the robbery of three loser criminals which turns badly, so that finally the action and the violence make their appearance in the series. These robbery will leave only one survivor, Wilfredo “Chico” Diaz, played by Brian Marc (Nerve), on the run with the money. And it will provoke the first real face-to-face between Cottonmouth — he’s chasing Chico to get back his money — and Luke Cage in a key moment of episode 2 at the barber shop.
In this key scene, the series Luke Cage uses a lots of tight shots, close-ups (looks, gestures) and slow motion. And the setting of the barber shop which previously looked like a sitcom set becomes more cinematographic, giving the series another dimension and a greater interest.
and a bullet-proof body
All this story about Chico and the stolen money will lead Pop, a former thug and now a pillar of the community, to force Luke Cage not to stay away from it but to be part of it and to contribute.
And of course, in order to make our superhero to accept who he is and to go forward, we will unfortunately have to see the death of Pop’s paternal figure that will touch the entire community, from the Lieutenant Detective Misty to the gangster Cottonmouth.
The series Luke Cage then shows us a superhero ready to get involved to make a difference in an impressive and almost unreal sequence in which he will go in a fortress filled with Cottonmouth’s money and face heavily armed men in a hand to hand fight, revealing to us all his specificity, that is to sa its superhuman strength and its bullet-proof body.
Indestructible, our superhero will not turn away from his responsibilities but will take up Pop’s torch in the midst of the violent community of Harlem. The credits of the series Luke Cage which shows pictures of the city of New York that are being engraved on his body take then all their meaning.
In short, with a dark and community story, the series Luke Cage confirms the good performance of the Marvel series on Netflix.
A successful soundtrack
Finally, it is difficult not to conclude our article without talking about the soundtrack of the series concocted with cleverness by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad — the latter is known for being part of the American hip hop band A Tribe Called Quest.
This O.S.T. successfully combines the different genres of African-American music such as hip hop, jazz and blues.
The little extra is that the fictional club, Harlem’s Paradise, has live performances by singers and bands such as Faith Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Charles Bradley, The Delfonics, Method Man and Jidenna.
To learn more:
- Luke Cage season 1 is available on Netflix since Friday September 30th, 2016