The list of black superheroes is not only a short one but, it’s one of the least spoken about groups of heroes that exists in the current mainstream media. The first that always comes to mind for me personally is Blade, the great work by Wesley Snipes. Snipes portrays the half vampire, half human Marvel hero that made him, not only one of the coolest superheroes on film but also one of the coolest black characters period. The second that comes to mind is Spawn, followed closely by Black Panther, whose brief, but iconic, presence in Captain America’s last movie, coupled with his own standalone movie that will be released next year, has brought him to the forefront of a lot of people’s conversations. But now, thanks to Netflix, a new albeit familiar name has risen to the top of the Black hero list, and that name is Luke Cage.
Luke Cage premiered on September 30th and I’ve already binge-watched the show twice (writers have entirely too much free time), and I’ve yet to stop being amazed by it. It’s a refreshing blend of today’s Black culture and classic storytelling that Netflix and Marvel have become famous for portraying that is, honestly, right on time with the recent turmoil that the Black community has been thrust into. To put it in the simplest terms, this show is phenomenal. Now, I will say that it doesn’t have the fight scene greatness that Daredevil brought us, however, in Luke’s defense he doesn’t really need epic fight moves and ninja skills because of his immense strength and imperviousness to most/all weaponry and physical attacks. Still, it would be nice to see him throw the hands with a room full of enemies of equal or similar capabilities. They chose to lean on star power but not in the sense that most programs do, where most shows will take one or two big blockbuster name actors in the cast to attract a larger crossover audience, this one chooses to limit that to 1 at a time, and relying on the star power of the rest of the Marvel Netflix Universe to tie storylines and bring fans together. Even the actor playing Luke, Mike Colter, although he’s been seen in several things, such as MIB: 3 where he played Agent J’s father to his premier role as the boxer Big Willie Little on Million Dollar Baby, to the first look we got at him on the show Jessica Jones, gives a great performance. He does a great job portraying the complex bulletproof “hero” who brings a very strong presence to the character and owns it in a way that it is difficult to see any other cast in the pivotal role. Most stories like to give their character back story through a series of flashbacks, Luke Cage decided to give us the meat of the back story in one full episode but, it’s very clear that we have only scratched the surface in Season 1 and there is a lot more to be discovered in the seasons coming. This also allows the meat of the show to focus on Luke Cage NOW and his current struggles to not only discover who he was but also who he is in a world filled with enhanced humans and all out superheroes. The show has many emotional peaks and valleys throughout the first season and it ends on not so much a cliffhanger, but as more of an appetizer, providing with just enough to leave us satiated while we wait until season two is released, which should be around next fall. The musical tone of the show is remarkable. They pulled no punches from using an orchestra to set the tone for their visual counterparts, to several live performances from iconic artists such as Raphael Saddiq, the Delphonics, and the 90s hip- hop soundtrack that sets the Harlem background of the show up perfectly. The music of Luke Cage is a huge part of what makes the show so great. There are even subtle hip-hop infusions, in that the title of each episode is also the title of a song made by the legendary hip-hop group Gang-Starr.
It’s clear to see that Netflix has hit a homerun right out of the park with this show, especially based on its critical reception, receiving a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and generating enough traffic on Netflix that their servers were briefly down during the day when Luke Cage was premiered. I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you but, if you haven’t taken the time to check out Luke Cage, do yourself a favor and heat yourself a massive bowl of popcorn and be ready to be fully immersed in the story of the newest and truest symbol of Black power, Luke Cage.