Luke Cage (Part 1 of 2)
This series isn't flawless, but it is a lot of fun. It has some uneven episodes, but it clearly has some of the strengths that the other Netflix shows have. Luke Cage is clearly the modern day . There are some pacing issues that Daredevil didn't have, but there is something really cool about this show. It entrenches itself into the 70s and 90s vibe of street culture. However, it also fits nicely into the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the most part, Luke Cage is an enjoyable show. There are some flaws, but they don't bring the show down completely.
Luke Cage was introduced in Jessica Jones's series, but here we get into his background in full detail. The show does a masterful job showing us a guy that doesn't want to be a hero, but takes up the notion of a hero due to all the terrible things going on. We see when he has to take a stand. And, it doesn't come across as preachy either.
Luke Cage is a very good character. He is not as broody as Daredevil or as cynical as Jessica Jones. He is somewhere in the middle. He's a guy that doesn't want to be bothered with doing superhero stuff despite his super powers. He does change over the course of the series and I like that about this show. He becomes invested in Harlem.
Speaking of Harlem, it plays a central role in the show and plays a character in the show just like Hell's Kitchen does for DD. Luke Cage is the hero for minorities that live in drug and crime ridden locations. The show does a great job of conveying this without it being really silly and within reason. Like DD, Cage is a street level hero that beats the living crap out of street criminals.
Mike Colter is great as Luke Cage and was built for it. (And, like Tony Stark, he enjoys bedding the ladies.)
Cottonmouth is a very cool villain and a very worthy opponent for Luke Cage. He is a club owner and the top crime guy in Harlem. He is a more straight forward version of Kingpin. Kingpin stayed in the shadows, Cottonmouth likes to be front and center of the area he controls. He wants everyone to know him. Like Kingpin, he enjoys killing people with his bare hands. Mahershala Ali plays him so well that I think Marvel TV gives stiff competition to DC TV as far as villains go.
He is a slick gangster that is a counter to the good guy Luke Cage. Every scene they share is very fun to watch. You can feel the tension between the two. It is simply wonderful.
In the wings, there is another person involved in the Cottonmouth story line played by Alfre Woodard is a powerful political person. For her, putting on a good face is just as important as getting the dirty money from her cousin Cottonmouth. Yet, you can see some really bad things about her too.
It is very interesting to see her striking similarities to Hillary Clinton. Like Clinton, she seems to be indirectly connected to some shady things that keep coming up over and over again She has a darker side to herself too just like the president hopeful as well.
Shades (Theo Rossi) is another character/villain that has an ever growing presence in the show. I really dug how slippery his character was yet there are some things that I like about him. ( He played a similar character on SOA)
There are two different versions of the show. When the focus on the villains change, the show completely switches gears. It becomes less of a street exploitation show and more of a show like the other superhero shows. I like the first half of the season better, but I don't think they could have sustained that story line all the way through the 10+ episodes. However, the second half certainly has its own merits as well. The two main villains (and Shades) are interesting in a different fashion than Cottonmouth.