The partnership between Netflix and Marvel has thus far produced two stellar television shows in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and if the trailers are anything to go from, Luke Cage is set to continue this trend.
Luke Cage focuses on the eponymous hero of Harlem, who is super strong with unbreakable skin, thanks to an experiment gone wrong. Played by Mike Colter, we were introduced to Luke Cage in Jessica Jones; but here is the moment where the character takes centre stage. The show features a stellar cast in Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley, and Sônia Braga, in addition to Rosario Dawson, who we know for sure will return as nurse Claire Temple for at least one episode.While the events of Luke Cage are set to take place a short time after the events of Jessica Jones, this show is certainly not not going to be a continuation of their romantic story. While it would be fantastic to see a short cameo from Krysten Ritter’s Jessica, this is Luke’s story; getting to know the man behind the unbreakable skin is the name of the game here. While he was somewhat reluctant to get involved in the superhero game in Jessica Jones, Colter has promised that this is the moment where Cage steps up to become the protector of Harlem.
Embracing Luke’s comic moniker of Power Man certainly wouldn’t be in keeping with the tone of the Netflix/Marvel television shows, though it would be fantastic to see Luke Cage grow more comfortable with using his powers to help people. While in Jessica Jones he shows a clear reluctance to get involved in anyone’s business, in his own show there is a definite need for him to step out of the shadows. This means more action featuring the character – some of which has been teased through a Comic Con 2016 trailer, which features the hero tearing a car door off and using it as a battering ram to bash through a door. Fight action scenes, which really make the most of the dual aspects of his superpowers, are key – the visuals of a man walking through a hail of bullets with not a scratch on him will certainly have impact.Mahershala Ali features as Luke Cage’s chief antagonist Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, a nightclub owner who uses the club as a front for illegal activities, and it would be great to see a substantial amount of interaction between the two characters. The Netflix shows have always been at their best when the hero and villain are face to face (think Matt Murdock’s conversations with Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, or Jessica’s showdowns with Kilgrave), because they show the enemies to be equal to the heroes. Face to face interaction is a must, as well as a substantial amount of time showing us why Stokes is a worthwhile adversary for an unbreakable man – without going over the top with cliched mob archetypes.
Thinking ahead, a welcome way to end this first series would be Luke Cage establishing a kind of ‘Hero for Hire’ business, in following of his path in the Marvel comics. While I doubt the show would necessarily name it as such (again, with the Power Man moniker, it feels to kitschy and comic-y for the tone of these shows), having him set up an informal organisation would show the development of the character over this series and Jessica Jones before it.
Luke Cage will continue to expand the world of New York City heroism, and I for one can’t wait to see how it differs from the shows that came before it, whilst still fitting together to provide the bedrock for next year’s The Defenders. With only one more origins show to go in Iron Fist, it is easy to see how these figures will fit together to form a team, albeit an uncomfortable one, and the job of this show will be to flesh out the character while still telling his story, rather than merely setting up for the team-up piece.
Luke Cage will be available on Netflix on 30th September, with all 13 episodes available at once.