By Francisco Portillo
Marvel delivers its best Netflix original series yet, as “Luke Cage” adds some much needed diversity to the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” focuses on the darker and grittier cornerstones of the Marvel universe.
This series marks the first time in the Cinematic Universe that a minority has served as the main character in his own outing, beating out “Black Panther,” which is coming in 2018.
Even though they take place in the same universe, each show has its own feel to it and this show is no different. The series is set in Harlem, New York and follows the titular character who made his debut in “Jessica Jones.”
Taking advantage of his powers, he tries to release Harlem from the clutches of organized crime-boss Cornell Cottonmouth Stokes. With indestructible skin and super-strength, Cage dons a hoodie on his heroic escapades throughout the season.
This superhero offers a more relatable character to minorities as opposed to the many Caucasian characters that inhabit the universe. Tackling social issues like Black Lives Matter, or black on black violence, is what makes this show so great. It transcends simple entertainment and provides social commentary.
Fans will be pleased with the many Easter eggs placed throughout the 13 episodes. One shows Cage dressed in his original 1970s Power Man attire from the comic books.
Cage is played by Mike Colter, who does an amazing job at portraying a man who is an unstoppable force with a mysterious past. He brings a certain amount of charm and emotional weight to the character, putting his range of acting on display.
Also starring in the show is Simone Missick, who plays comic-book fan-favorite Detective Misty Knight. Missick’s performance as Knight cements her place in the universe as a truly badass character.
Rosario Dawson reprises her “Daredevil” role as Claire Temple, who is seeking to help out the heroes that fight for New York.
Like Knight, Temple is a formidable character who is more than able to defend herself.
The addition of strong female characters is crucial to gaining a new audience and providing more opportunities for minority and female actors. The arrival of her character hints at the expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Her subtle comments about knowing a certain lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen will make fans excited and eager to see all the heroes finally come together as the Defenders in 2017.
Mahershala Ali, who plays the organized crime boss Cottonmouth does a fantastic job at playing up his character’s intimidation factor.
Other villains in the show are played by Alfre Woodard and Erik Harvey.
Mariah Stokes, who is played by Woodard, is the sibling and partner of Cottonmouth.The character acts as the calm thinker to the operation that they are running.
Diamondback, by Harvey, acts as the only villain who can match Cage’s strengths, being a more formidable obstacle.
The most memorable villain, Shades Alvarez, is played by “Sons of Anarchy” alum Theo Rossi who does a great job playing such a menacing character.
Variations of the villain’s costumes from the comics are used in the show. The show does an impeccable job of integrating the action with great music.
In one of the best scenes, Cage puts on his earphones before raiding a fortress with armed men. Before the fun begins, “Bring Da Ruckus,” by the Wu-Tang Clan sets up the scene. Taking on a barrage of bullets, viewers discover why he is given the moniker of black Captain America.
The action in the show is plentiful, entertaining and different than that of “Daredevil.” While Daredevil reaches the verge of death in his adventures, Cage is a different bullet-proof beast.
Each episode ends on such dramatic and dire situations that the series is easy to binge watch. While none of the Netflix characters have transitioned to the big screen yet, fans are eagerly anticipating the integration.
Certain characters like Daredevil or Jessica Jones may not work well on the big screen but Luke Cage is a character that can easily be integrated into the larger Avengers team.
It would be such a treat for fans to see Cage go toe-to-toe with the likes of Iron Man and Captain America.
While the universes seem like complete opposites, it will be interesting to see if the characters are able to actually fit into the larger scheme of things, or if they are destined to be separate forever.
Unlike the family friendly motion pictures, Netflix allows the producers to focus on adults as their target audiences.
All episodes can be currently streamed on Netflix.