Marvel’s Luke Cage Review

Marvel’s most Diverse TV show yet, Luke Cage, has had a wondrous two seasons where The Defenders took place inbetween. Check out our comprehensive review for both season one and season two here!

Season One

The Basics

Luke Cage follows up on the titular hero (portrayed by Mike Colter) after the events of the first season of Jessica Jones. Upon making his return to his hometown of Harlem, he attempts to lay low and find peace working as a janitor in a barber shop, managed by Henry ‘Pop’ Hunter (Frankie Frasion). Pop and his barber shop are the one place in Harlem where nobody is fighting anyone, and Pop himself is respected even by the crime lord Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes (Mahershala Ali). As time goes on, Luke and Cottonmouth find themselves at odds with one another, and Luke’s troubled past begins to reveal itself.

Harlem’s Hip-Hop

Much like the city of Harlem, Luke Cage has music at the center of everything. The star-studded soundtrack, available Herefeatures an original song by Method Man, and the likes of Ghostface Killah, Faith Evans, and Wu-Tang Clan. fresh rap songs blend with classic hip-hop to make one of the greatest television soundtracks in history.

Villains! Villains Everywhere!

As far as villains go, Cottonmouth is an excellent one. Ali’s performance is cold, calculating, and cunning. Cottonmouth isn’t afraid to walk into the heart of enemy territory, as shown when he visit’s Pop’s Barber Shop. He has all of the poise of a wealthy man, the ruthlessness of gangster, and the charismatic voice of a preacher. Cottonmouth is living the high life, and judging by the materials he surrounds himself with, he quite enjoys his position.

Standing Out In More Than Just Location

Luke Cage sets itself apart from its two predecessors by having each shot be full of vibrant colors. Rather than the black and gray setting of Daredevil, or the dark blue and purple color scheme that dominated Jessica JonesLuke Cage features a landscape draped in gold, yellow, green, and orange. Each shot, even those at night, are so full of these colors that Luke Cage will stand out from its Defender colleagues for years to come.

Bulletproof FX

When you have a hero who can’t be broken, it is a worry that action sequences could be dull or that the special effects could look bad. Fortunately, neither of these fears become realities. Luke fights with the ferocity of a caged animal, regularly demolishing doors, walls, guns, and anything else that stands in his way. He crumples guns like they are made of paper, and breaks bones like twigs. as for special effects, each bullet shot at Luke looks phenomenal, and none are forgotten, as Luke has to constantly keep in mind how and where bullets will ricochet off of him.

Connections To One Of Marvel’s Most… Amusing Villains

As the season progresses, Cottonmouth, through his liaison Hernan ‘Shades’ Alvarez (Theo Rossi) discovers a bullet powerful enough to damage even a bulletproof man. the manufacturer of these so-called Judas Bullets, is none other than Justin Hammer’s old company Hammer Industries. The company, previously featured in Iron Man II, has a lengthy history in the comics, and is a nice callback to one of Marvel’s most forgettable films.

Final Thoughts on Season One

Marvel did something remarkable when they debuted Daredevil: they opened the door for numerous of their less popular characters to finally get their time in the spotlight. So far, Marvel is 3 for 3 in this regard, and Luke Cage not only meets the success of its companions, it exceeds them. in the first day of release, the show managed to crash Netflix due to the amount of people watching it. No show has managed that before, and it is doubtful any show ever will, thus earning Luke Cage‘s debut season a 9.7 / 10, and a high level of hype for Season 2.

Season Two

Marvel’s latest release, the second season of Luke Cage, released Friday, June 22. Did it meet and surpass expectations, or do fans have to deal with the television version of Thor: The Dark World?

The Basics

After nearly two years, Fans of Marvel’s Bulletproof Hero-for-Hire finally got to return to Harlem. Luke (Mike Colter) has set out to make the area crime-free by taking down Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) and her cohort Shades (Theo Rossi). In attempting to do so, Luke is often at odds with members of the Harlem Police Department, despite newly-crippled detective Misty Knight (Simone Messick) often attempting to stick up for him. After Luke has successfully distracted Mariah, a Jamaican gang led by the ruthless Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) moves into Harlem, seeking revenge on Mariah and her entire Family.

Heroic Hymns

Much like it’s predecessor, Luke Cage S2 features a stellar soundtrack. With the likes of Gary Clarke Jr, who fans may recognize as one of the men behind the stellar cover of “Come Together” that was featured in marketing for Justice League. Stephen Marley, the son of legendary Reggae musician Bob Marley, and Faith Evans, wife and frequent collaborator of The Notorious B.I.G. all make appearances in the show and on the soundtrack. The melodies themselves offer combinations of Hip-Hop music for Luke, Misty, and Mariah, and Reggae music for the Jamaicans. The soundtrack, available to listen here, is available in all formats.

The Colors of Cage

One of the highlights of season one was the departure from the usually dark colors of New York City alleyways for the vivid warmth provided by the colors of Harlem, and Season 2 does not disappoint. The vivid colors featured in each and every shot give viewers a taste of the life and the history that a place like Harlem has. Lighting effects are played incredibly well, specifically in Mariah’s club, the Harlem’s Paradise.

Mild Spoiler
Most of the time, the Club is shrouded in darkness, visually telling the tale of Paradise and what the Stokes Family has done to get it, but when Mariah and Shades go legit and buy stocks, the Paradise is no longer shown at night, cloaked in shadows. Instead, the club is shown in broad daylight, fully lit, with no more secrets to hide.

A Mirrored Image

Luke Cage heavily features a strong parallelism between Luke and Bushmaster. Both have to deal with their father’s absence growing up, and both are forced to deal with anger towards the past, the present, and Mariah. How the two deal with their anger is what sets the men apart.

Mild Spoiler
Luke chooses to use his anger to fuel his quest to purify Harlem, although it ends up driving away those he is closest to, while Bushmaster unleashes his anger against Mariah and anyone who attempts to aid her.

Surprises, Surprises Everywhere

The second season also manages to do something nobody expected, Redeem the worst on-screen Defender.

Major Spoiler
After getting worried about Luke, Claire (Rosario Dawson) asks the Immortal Iron Fist, a.k.a Danny Rand, to check on their friend. in the 10th episode, Danny arrives, and what fans get is stunning. Instead of the annoying man-child that was forced upon us in his own show, the Danny fans see in this episode is funny, calm, and to the genuine disbelief of anyone who watched any other appearance of Danny, only mentioned that he was the “Immortal Iron Fist, sworn protector of Kun-Lun” a shocking ONE time. In this way, one episode of Luke Cage not only sets up a possible Heroes-for-Hire spin-off, but serves as a better season of Iron Fist than Iron Fist could ever dream of.

Everyone Loves a Good Bad Guy

As is common with the entertainment industry, accents are everything. Actors like Chadwick Boseman and Martin Freeman can swap between accents flawlessly, and fans are blessed to see some of this talent in Luke Cage S2. Harlem native Mustafa Shakir and the rest of the cast who make up the Jamaicans have perfected this talent to a point where not only are subtitles needed to understand what is being said, but true Jamaican and actor are indistinguishable.

The character of Bushmaster also earns praise for every fight sequence he is part of. Any time a punch is thrown, Bushmaster is maneuvering around his opponent and getting in close to lay down some heavy punches. Each fight scene he is in appears to be more of an eloquently prepared dance than an actual gang fight, and this approach works with Bushmaster’s character. He is focused on getting revenge for the past, so he doesn’t need to focus on the combat of today. He goes in fists flying rather than guns blazing. It also helps that Bushmaster was originally an Iron Fist Villain, and when one goes up against the master of martial arts, he best know some martial arts as well.

Bad Guys, Great Acting

The big award shows have never been kind to the superhero genre. Despite spectacular displays of cinematic mastery, the genre rarely sees anything more than nominations. Luke Cage S2 stands out as a show that deserves many Emmy’s for its actors, in particular the two primary villains, Mariah and Bushmaster. Alfre Woodard delivers the powerful emotional scenes she known for, in particular whenever she has a conversation with her daughter, Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis ). Mustafa Shakir steals every scene he is in, whether through his swift actions, carefully chosen words, or just his body language. whenever he enters a room, his arms are either spread wide or by his sides, never in a defensive stance.

Season 3 and Beyond

The darkest moment of Luke Cage is no doubt the ending.

Monumental Spoiler
After driving off Bushmaster and defeating Mariah, Luke stands tall as Harlem’s hero, and after being overwhelmed by a massive crime surge in Mariah’s absence, Luke becomes a crime lord in order to stop the wave of violence sweeping Harlem. After Mariah’s death in prison, Luke is given Harlem’s Paradise, once again cloaked in shadows, as he watches Harlem, hoping to do good, but becoming more violent as he does so. Fans of the Marvel Comics will know that this sounds familiar to the 2010 storyline Shadowland in which Daredevil takes control of the Hand, attempting to use them for good, and becomes corrupted by The Beast. While corruption via mystical spirit animal worshipped by Ninjas seems unlikely (but not impossible), a more metaphorical corruption by the beast of anger within Luke seems more likely to happen in the inevitable season 3.

Wrapping It Up – Season Two

With 13 nearly hour-long episodes, only the truly dedicated can manage to watch the entire season in one sitting. Fortunately, the show’s pacing, tone, and vivid colors make each and every moment an enjoyable one to watch, no matter the hour of day.

After the split reactions to their last Netflix release, the second season of Jessica Jones, Marvel stepped up their game, and delivered a true contender for the coveted title of “Best-Marvel/Netflix-Season,” a title which, to the general fanbase, is held by the spectacular second season of Daredevil. With vivid colors, deep parallelisms, a killer soundtrack, and possibly one of the darkest endings in Marvel history (excluding Infinity War), the show earns a 9.8 / 10.

Good

  • Great Characters
  • Continuity Throughout Seasons
  • Fight Sequences
  • Soundtrack
  • Action Quality
  • Colors & Saturation
  • Season Endings
  • Iron Fist is an actual decent character and not what he was in his own show.

Bad

  • Season 3 has yet to be confirmed
9.7

Amazing

Characters - 8
Dialogue - 10
Connections and Continuity of Seasons - 10
Connection to MCU - 9
Connection to Marvel Netflix - 10
Sound Design and Soundtrack - 10
Special Effects/Lighting - 10
Action - 10
Storylines - 10
I do cool things. I write cool stuff. I'm just living my life the way I want to: Little Sleep, Lots of Netflix.
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