Luke Cage is not your average TV series. Centering on a black man in a hoodie, on the run from police, and with powers that make him bulletproof, the show is very relevant in our current world. These are not the only themes it addresses, however; community, father figures, organised crime, and vigilante justice are also central ideas, and the show manages to pull this off extremely well.
The new series is Marvel’s latest addition to their cinematic universe, and somehow manages to tie in with fellow Netflix shows, such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones, while setting up for follow-up series’ Iron Fist and The Defenders, as well as referencing events and characters from the company’s film franchise.
“Luke Cage is very different from both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and yet it clearly exists in the same universe”
The tone and complexity of the issues addressed in the various Marvel television series are completely different from their family-friendly franchise films, and yet each series still brings something new to the table. Luke Cage is very different from both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and yet it clearly exists in the same universe.
As with several of Marvel’s other adaptations, nods are given to the character’s comic book origins, including characters like Misty Knight, and a scene featuring Luke’s graphic novel costume, which he dismisses as ridiculous, much as Jessica did in her own series.
This is a TV show that pays homage to its inspiration, but is not afraid to make its content stand out as current and realistic, and sometimes remarkably so.
The first difference between this series and Netflix’s previous collaborations with Marvel is location. Luke lives in Harlem, not Hell’s Kitchen. Harlem is an area of NYC that is predominantly black, yet not entirely so.
“Luke is shot multiple times throughout the series, each typical gunshot resulting in no real injury”
White characters may be token, but racial diversity is central, and it feels like a gauntlet thrown down in front of Hollywood and other studios that seem to struggle with this very issue, a problem becoming increasingly notorious in the public eye following #OscarsSoWhite and the whitewashing of main characters in several recent films.
This feeds into the second difference: The new challenges to face, for both Luke and the audience, that emerge from the Harlem backdrop. There are gangs to break down, loyalties and divisions, and most importantly, an eschewed perspective on life.
Luke’s powers are not the kind that shout about themselves; you could know him fairly well, and yet have no idea about the extent of his strength or his unbreakable skin. And yet, this is Harlem, where guns abound. Luke is shot multiple times throughout the series, each typical gunshot resulting in no real injury.
Luke Cage offers a strikingly realistic and important look at life for a black man in the USA, and in this way it mirrors Jessica Jones at times, almost feeling like a drama rather than a superhero series.
The gritty realism is appealing, but it is often explicit and bloody; this is nothing like the movie additions to the MCU, so don’t expect it to follow the same tone.
In a time when police brutality and institutionalised racism are issues at the forefront of many Americans’ minds, and the Black Lives Matter movement is alive and strong, Luke is something poignant: a bulletproof black man, who wears hoodies.
Media sourced from Netflix, Metro News, Comingsoon.com