Starring: Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Alfre Woodard
Series created by: Cheo Hodari Coker
Written by: Cheo Hodari Coker / Episode directed by: Paul McGuigan
What’s it about?
As tensions on the streets of Harlem rise, Luke Cage finds his attempts to live a quiet life becoming more difficult and a hero’s calling hard to ignore…
Marvel TV brings a nifty, gritty urban vibe to Netflix with Luke Cage, the latest in their run of adult orientated street-level comic book shows, following the success of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Judging by this first episode, Marvel/Netflix have afforded the same care and attention to Luke Cage as they did with those previous series with another strong and deftly executed production that once again boasts some great casting.
Mike Colter’s Luke Cage already made his mark on the MCU as an integral part of Jessica Jones and certainly demonstrated promise for a series of his own. Following what transpired in Hell’s Kitchen, Luke Cage opens with Marvel’s indestructible ‘Power Man’ (and eventual hero for hire) maintaining a low-profile in Harlem, working two jobs as he struggles to live day-to-day and keeping himself uncommitted to tackling the city’s growing crime problem. It’s not necessarily essential to have seen Jessica Jones but it certainly helps in understanding where Cage has come from and how events have led him to this low-point, as he continues to be haunted by a past that left him with unwanted abilities.
Mahershala Ali (House of Cards) is appropriately menacing and dislikeable as ‘Cottonmouth’, club-owner and crime boss who beneath a demeanour of grandeur there seethes a fearsome rage of Wilson Fisk proportions. His influence is enforced by his cousin, corrupt Councilwoman Mariah Dillard – played by Alfre Woodard (completely unconnected to her role in Captain America: Civil War) whose gravitas provides this series’ element of star power. As Cottonmouth connects with former convict ‘Shades’ (Theo Rossi) we’re also introduced to Simone Missick’s Misty Knight, a potential ally for Cage and who may be more than she first appears.
Written by showrunner Cheo Coker (Ray Donovan), “Moment of Truth“ favours a slow-burn approach in setting the scene and establishing the key players and status quo but by the closing credits there’s a sense of threats brewing and a storyline building (with promising hints that we’ll get to explore that back story alluded to in Jessica Jones), leaving no doubt that Cage won’t remain on the side-lines for much longer.
The bottom line: Marvel/Netlix deliver a promising and enjoyable start to Luke Cage that on first impressions looks to evoke the same quality as their previous efforts.
All 13 episodes of Luke Cage season 1 are available to stream now via Netflix.