Netflix take viewers back to the streets of Harlem as Marvel’s bulletproof hero returns…
Starring: Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Rosario Dawson, Alfre Woodard
Series created by: Cheo Hodari Coker
Written by: Cheo Hodari Coker / Episode directed by: Lucy Liu
What’s it about?
As he finds himself dealing with new-found fame, Luke Cage continues his fight against the criminals of Harlem…
Marvel’s bulletproof ‘Power Man’ is back for his sophomore solo outing in the second season of the Netflix Original, Luke Cage. An enjoyable start to the season, “Soul Brother #1” is very much a continuation rather than a reinvention as it evokes that same stylish sense of gritty urban soul that characterised the previous season. There are some slightly cartoonish and surprisingly stereotypical elements that creep in every now and then (plus the liberal use of a certain derogatory term is not particularly clever) but generally, through its exemplary casting and themes of heroism as well as an exploration of the current social and political landscape, there’s enough drama and intrigue to get viewers invested.
In the wake of The Defenders, we see Luke Cage as something of a reluctant celebrity, cheered and adored by the people as he continues his fight to clean-up the crime-ridden streets of Harlem. Whilst he’s a little uneasy with being compared to the likes of Malcolm X and Barack Obama, Cage is non-the-less committed to a cause that he truly believes in but is grounded by everyday troubles, whether it be financial woes (there are plenty profiting from the Luke Cage ‘brand’, but the man himself isn’t seeing any of it), worries about endangering the lives of those he loves (Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple in particular) or the strained relationship with his father (played by House of Cards’ Reg E. Cathey), who denounces his son’s actions as he preaches the virtues of the everyday person finding the hero within themselves as a more ideal alternative to making the world a better place.
Mike Colter slips back into his role with ease and demonstrates that he can deftly convey both the physical and inner strengths of Luke Cage whilst skilfully delivering hints of emotional vulnerability. Rosario Dawson is equally adept in her reprisal of Claire Temple, as her relationship with Cage grows and facilitates some of the moral debate about how far Harlem’s hero can push himself, reminding him that he’s not completely indestructible. Simone Missick delivers another fine portrayal as Misty Knight as she deals with the scars of her injury in The Defenders and Theo Rossi turns in a reliably devious performance as Hernan ‘Shades’ Alvarez. A fine cast indeed and one that’s made even more notable with an awards-worthy effort by Alfre Woodard who makes a welcome return as the devilishly unhinged Mariah Dillard who seeks to tighten her grip on the criminal underworld in the absence of Cottonmouth.
Series creator Cheo Hodari Coker writes this premiere and it’s a solid enough start (despite those aforementioned flaws) that’s enhanced by the slick direction of Hollywood star Lucy Liu. It remains to be seen how the rest of the season fares and if the inconsistent pacing that tends to plague Marvel’s Netflix shows draws things out, but with the introduction of a promising new villain (Jamaican gangster John ‘Bushmaster’ McIver, played by Mustafa Shakir) with abilities that may prove a challenge for the central hero, there’s definitely potential for season 2 of Luke Cage.
The bottom line: Luke Cage season 2 gets off to a decent start that’s bolstered by a great cast, well-written characters and some interesting themes.
All 13 episodes of Luke Cage season 2 are available to stream now via Netflix.