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Marvel continued its Netflix programming yesterday with the release of the 13-episode Luke Cage season 1. As you should be aware by this point, Marvel and Netflix entered into an agreement several years back by which the two companies would jointly produce 4 13-episode character-based series, which would all culminate in the 8-episode miniseries The Defenders. Luke Cage represents the third of the four character series, and the fourth season overall (Daredevil season 2 was released earlier this year). Next year Iron Fist will be released (probably late winter or early spring, and The Defenders will finally arrive sometime over the summer.
Marvel has been using the Netflix brand to explore darker and grittier stories than they would be able to get away with in the movies, which are much more family-friendly, or on network television. Luke Cage is no different, as the series combines the violence of Daredevil with the sexual content of Jessica Jones—though there is only a single sex scene in the first half of the season, it is pretty explicit. However, the series does something very clever with its crude language, so at least there’s that.
The series picks up with Luke Cage in Harlem after the events of Jessica Jones season 1. He is trying to keep his head down as much as possible, but eventually he cannot stay out of the spotlight any longer and must become involved in the greater events around him. We are also introduced to Misty Knight, a detective working an organized crime case which brings her into contact with Luke. Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes and “Black” Mariah Dillard are the villains of the season, and they do an admirable job in the role. The two of them are very reminiscent of different aspects of Wilson Fisk from Daredevil season 1, but they are not carbon copies of him. Cottonmouth represents the criminal side of him, while Black Mariah represents the side of Fisk that cared very deeply for his city. These two provide an interesting foil for each other, and they also push Luke in interesting ways.
There really isn’t a whole lot negative to say about the first six episodes of Luke Cage season 1. It develops the story very well, the characters all get their moments in the spotlight, and all of the action and cinematography is spot-on. There are a lot of awesome homages to the comics—be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Luke’s original comic book costume! They also do a very good job of working in references to the larger Cinematic Universe. My only real complaint with the series so far is that the conclusion of episode 6, “Suckas Need Bodyguards,” is a little too neat and doesn’t leave very much story for the rest of the season to build off of. Of course I am going to finish the season, though!
Have you started Luke Cage yet? If so, what do you think? Just remember not to include any spoilers!