Luke Cage Review (Full Season)

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

Just like the previous Netflix Marvel shows, Luke Cage was binged in one sitting. And while Jessica Jones lost a little bit of steam in the second half of the season, Luke Cage was able to push through and finish strongly.

The key to the success of these shows is the showrunner. Jessica Jones was a good example of having the right showrunner to get across the themes of the show to its audience. These core themes were essential to the show’s DNA. The same goes for Luke Cage. Cheo Hodari Coker was able to craft his story and shape his world with freedom and creativity. This enabled him to create an immersive story and interesting characters.

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The tone and style of Luke Cage was near perfect, and as for the music? Well, you’d struggle to find a show right now that could beat it. The show was stylish and slick with an underbelly of poverty and desperation. The contrast between those who have and those who haven’t, helped to add another layer to story.

By the time you have finished the final episode, you truly feel a sense of satisfaction. You have completed a long, worthwhile, journey filled with plenty of twists and turns. Whether or not we get a second series remains to be seen, but if they don’t then they have many characters who need to be moved on to other the other shows.

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Mahershala Ali’s performance as Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes was a joy to behold. On the surface you have a character who wants to be “the King of Harlem”, a straight up gangster. But beneath these obvious character traits lies one of the most conflicted and complex characters ever seen in the MCU. The same can be said for Alfre Woodard’s Mariah Dillard. Her transition throughout the series was fascinating. Just when you think you’ve figured her out, bang, it all changes. This can be said for many characters in Luke Cage, they are that well written.

Mike Colter and Simone Missick had a good rapport as Luke Cage and Misty Knight. It was essential to the show’s success that this dynamic felt natural and believable. It did. It was also nice to see Colter be allowed to bring Luke Cage to life and really help bring the character in to the modern area. Cage now feels like a relevant character. With a lot of similar type of heroes in the MCU, Luke Cage offers something very different.

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Reprising her role as ‘the female Nick Fury’ was Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. She has featured in both seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and now Nick Cage. But it seems that Rosario has finally found a show where she is able to take on a much more meaningful role within the shared Netflix universe. While there may have been one too many “I know a lawyer” teases, we did get to explore her character in much greater detail. She now feels like a big character, rather than being the one person to cameo in each of the shows to try and tie them together visually.

Looking at some comments online, it seems some want the Netflix shows to be presented in the same packaging as the MCU movies. There were those who didn’t like Jessica Jones because it was too ‘female centric’. Just like there are some who don’t like Luke Cage because they will feel like they cannot relate to a story of ‘black issues’. Both these shows may have a core of specific themes, but both are still engaging and exciting to a wider audience. If you struggle to watch a feminist show like Jessica Jones, or you don’t like watching a predominantly black cast in Luke Cage, that says a lot more about you than the quality of the show.

Luke Cage is an exciting and thought-provoking show that brings something very different to the MCU. With a host of complex characters peppered amongst a gripping story, Luke Cage is set to be another roaring success for Marvel and Netflix.

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