In 2015, audiences around the world were introduced to the edgy, thrilling, and dark new look of Marvel in the Netflix series Daredevil. Now in 2016, viewers are brought another story that is just as interesting and even more addicting. Luke Cage may not have a superhero suit or an assortment of weapons, but this doesn’t mean that he can’t defend his family and friends from the threat of a new villain who seeks destruction and is run by greed.
On September 30th, Netflix released the entire first season of the latest addition to the MCU: Luke Cage. The series continues to live up to the standards of the Marvel TV shows aired on Netflix, giving viewers heavy doses of thrilling action, gory material, and even more sinister villains.
Taking place just after the events of season one of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage is shown to work in a barber shop, trying to live a normal life and pay loyalty to his family and friends who live in the dangerous city of Harlem, where violence hides behind every corner. Luke has managed to hide his abilities from the world, but then a corrupt club owner named Cottonmouth begins to destroy everything Luke Cage holds dear: his friends and the city he has lived in his entire life. With the support of Claire, who has appeared throughout the MCU television shows, along with his abilities that make him invincible — unaffected by bullets, knives, or any other bodily harm — Luke must fight for the citizens of Harlem, end Cottonmouth’s corruption, and walk the line between hero and criminal.
Luke Cage was everything I expected and more. The acting was completely believable, the sets were breathtaking, and the darker view of Marvel was brought back to the small screen — which was very good to see. Having watched all three of the Marvel series on Netflix, this is by far my favorite for a number of reasons. For starters, this series had lots of humor in it. While the humor was subtle, it helped to alleviate some of the stress I felt from the constant violence and graphic material seen throughout the series. Another aspect of the show that made this series one of my favorites was the fact that Claire (played by Rosario Dawson) was brought back to the screen as a central character in the show, letting viewers get to see her personality and character in more depth; plus, her relationship with Luke was fantastic (who doesn’t want to see them end up together?). The villains of Harlem were also filled with more complexity, making the viewer actually feel bad for them at some points. In the past, some of the villains in the Marvel series have felt very bland, one-dimensional, and pointless. This time they got it right in every way.
While I enjoyed Luke Cage very much, there were a few obvious downsides. The most glaring element that I felt was a bit too much was the graphic scenes of violence and sex. The violent material was not pervasive, yet when it did appear, it was extremely disturbing and unnerving. Everything from young children executing family members, fingers being chopped off with pliers, and people being brutally beaten to death with plenty of blood are all seen on-screen — which can be very disturbing, especially for younger viewers. Also, the two scenes that contained sexual content (and nudity) felt unnecessary and merely for shock value. Without some of this very adult material, I think the show could have been even more of a success and could have reached a larger audience.
Luke Cage may be one of the best shows of the year. The depth in each and every character, the themes of heroism and having courage in the darkest of situations, and the fun and chaotic scenes in each episode all make the show so appealing to all type of audiences. Tune in to Luke Cage on Netflix, and watch (with caution) one of the most popular series to hit Netflix in years.