Luke Cage Netflix

Sweet Christmas!

It’s fair to say that the much anticipated Marvel-Netflix Luke Cage series had quite a few things going for and against it that the viewing experience turned out to be a mixed bag somewhat.



Considering that the series focused very much on modern African-American culture, it’s not surprising that music was front and centre. Not only was some of the finest soul, R&B and hip-hop evident on the soundtrack but music would be a central theme behind initial antagonist  Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, himself a repressed jazz pianist and live performances at Stokes’ Harlem’s Paradise commented on the plot and provided context at the same time. Particularly affecting was Jidenna performing his song, “Long Live the Chief”. 


Set in Harlem, New York, there would be greater emphasis on African-American and Hispanic characters that is usual in a Marvel-related series. In that light, it was an impressive lineup of actors that enlivened proceedings which included Mike Colter (Cage), Mahershala Ali (Cottonmouth), Simone Missick (Misty Knight), Theo Rossi (Shades), Alfre Woodward (Black Mariah) and returning as Claire Temple (Night Nurse), Rosario Dawson. 

Political Commentary

A bulletproof Black superhero in a hoodie running from the law. A politically relevant statement for our Black Lives Matters-infused times. Commentary that was hard to ignore, especially during a segment where a Black teenager is assaulted by a police officer (also Black, significantly). Of course, the fact that Luke Cage was created during the 70s Blaxploitation era, meant that the producers and writers had to infuse a greater cultural sensitivity that is usually seen in superhero adaptations.

Easter Eggs

Geeks will not be disappointed in this respect. Look out for the appearance of Cage’s original costume (in the obligatory origin sequence), references to “Colleen Wing”, the “Incident” and “Justin Hammer”, Pop calling him “power man”, folks trying to ‘hire’ him as a ‘hero’ etc etc.



For much of the 13 episodes, Luke Cage feels like a 13 hour version of a standard 90 minute feature. Meaning that it’s threadbare plot seems to be stretched out to fill out the time. There are many talking scenes that are boring and don’t quite work. Also too many monologues for our liking. At times, the pace was so ponderous, it played like an Arthouse film in parts.

Poor acting

Awful performances from side and background characters – from Cottonmouth’s henchmen to the Hispanic gang member to Black Mariah’s assistant to Cage’s landlady to poor Candace – bad bad bad. Cringe-worthy at times. Compared to the main actors, the lack of quality here was embarrassing.

Exposition overkill

Compared to Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the essential backstory was laboriously presented in Luke Cage, and bordered on overkill. While it was necessary to flesh out Cage’s origin story, and perhaps also the dysfunctional relationship of Cottonmouth and Black Mariah – the need to explain the motivation behind Diamondback’s plan of vengeance was just too much. In fact, the whole Diamondback character was deeply flawed and Erik LaRay Harvey’s over-acting didn’t help either.

In the final analysis, more pros than cons and probably worth a second viewing to sort the wheat from the chaff. But more than anything else, we are really looking forward to the next in line – Iron Fist, the Son of K’un Lun finally brought to life on screen! Something to truly geek out over!

… still there’s more …