The cootie bug that one of my high school students passed along to me this week set me up perfectly to stay in bed and binge-watch the Nexflix debut of “Luke Cage.” When actor Mike Colter brought Cage on the scene as the love interest in the Marvel series “Jessica Jones,” there was no denying that there was something special about this character. Netflix obviously saw it too. That’s why they ordered 13 episodes of the character’s own show.
The Internet has been buzzing about the series since it debuted. These are just a few of the reason why I like “Luke Cage.”
A BLACK SUPER HERO
A bulletproof, hoodie-wearing, dark as night, Black man fighting off evil in the streets is the plot line that is right on time. This story of art imitating life does a great job of blending current events such as gun violence, profiling, viral dash-cam videos, and police brutality with a touch of the fantasy genre. Even though Cage plays the reluctant hero at first, he eventually falls in line in a “hero’s journey” kind of way to fight his enemies for a sense of revenge over the death of a close friend. The Cage character ends up being one of the good guys that everyone cheers for and will continue to cheer for. If Marvel doesn’t have a Luke Cage action figure in the works already, they will soon – if they’re smart.
It’s great to see so many fresh faces blended in with Hollywood vets on this project. Colter, of course, does his thang as Cage but his key enemies, played by Mahershala Ali (Cottonmouth) and Erik LaRay Harvey (Willis “Diamondback” Stryker) are just as excellent in their roles. The ladies held it down too, especially Simone Missick (Misty). She and Alfre Woodard (Mariah) gave standout performances full of believable emotion. Who knew Woodard had so much badness in her? The last episode is some of the best acting I’ve ever seen Woodard do.
THE SWEAR CAN
At Pop’s barbershop, where several scenes in the story take place, there is a swear can to keep the vocabulary clean. Since Cage isn’t a cusser, one of the phrases that he often says to keep from using profanity is “Sweet Christmas,” a line already gaining popularity on the Internet. I thought that was especially good since the show is bound to draw in a younger audience, but don’t get it twisted; this story is all adult. Even though I found the swear can, and Cage’s clean lingo to be especially positive, I was disappointed that the N-word was flying around like crazy. To me, that word is just as profane as any other, but that’s a different article for a different day. Cage does, however, insist on NOT being called the N-word, which I was happy to see. Even with that being the case, there is one episode where the hero does decide to use that word toward another Black man. There was obviously a point being made here, but it was a contradiction to the character’s usual actions nonetheless.
MINI BLACK HISTORY LESSONS
Because the show is set in Harlem, the characters, mainly Mariah, often make reference to Harlem’s rich Black history of music, arts and politics. If you listen carefully, the star characters of the series, especially Cage, Stryker and Mariah, all drop tidbits of knowledge about the past and incite on modern day history.
THE MENTION OF BLACK AUTHORS
In the beginning and end of the series Cage can be heard mentioning the names of (and reading) Black authors like Walter Mosley, Ralph Ellison, Donald Goines and Chester Himes. With any luck, some viewers might be curious enough to actually read books by these authors for themselves to find out what the hype is all about.
If you do your research, you’ll learn that the plot of this updated version of Luke Cage (aka Power Man) is slightly different from the original storyline. The changes that have been made work well with the backstories that are provided.
MISTY’S NATURAL HAIR
It is so refreshing to see a Black actress rocking her real hair. Not only was it real, it was in its natural state in twist-out form. Misty’s hairstyle in the last scene of the series is even more impressive when she walks into the club with a big, bold and beautiful Afro. Super dope.
If you haven’t set aside the time to catch “Luke Cage” yet, be sure to add it to your to-do list. You won’t be disappointed.
Until next time…
What did you like about the show? Leave me a message in the comments and let me know.