‘Given superstrength and durability by a sabotaged experiment, a wrongly accused man escapes prison to become a superhero for hire.’ (IMDb) (On Netflix, 13 episodes of ap. 55min.)
I’m actually really surprised with this series. I thought it was going to be a little bit the same thing as with Daredevil or Jessica Jones, darker, grittier, with superpowers and one evil guy. But here it’s more a drama, a story of a man trying to find his place in this world and it’s definitely a gangster story.
While there are still some supernatural elements to this series (I mean Luke Cage is strong, really strong and can’t be killed), the story shifts its focus early on to the story of Harlem and the fight between two strong men trying to save it. On the one hand we have Cottonmouth, played perfectly by Mahershala Ali, where we can see the corrupt side of Harlem, the gangsters, the fighting, blood, weapons, tied together with his cousin Mariah, a corrupt politician, using corrupt money to buy her seat in the council and putting up her projects. On the other hand we have Pop (only there for a few episodes, but one hell of a character) and Luke Cage off course, portrayed by Mike Colter, trying to fight of Cottonmouth and his band, trying to find his place in this world and keep his own past hidden from the people of Harlem.
While this series does focus more on these two sides, I do feel that the entire show wouldn’t be what it is without the great actors that play the different characters. Mike Colter is Luke Cage. He is huge, but still vulnerable. He’s distant, but still nice and friendly to others. There hasn’t been any other series where actor and character fit so well.
I especially enjoyed the episode where we see how Luke Cage got his powers. The little peak in his past and what he endured in prison, gave me a better understanding of his current character. I do however still feel we’re missing another piece of the puzzle to truly understand how he got to who he is. Why did he have to go to prison? He was framed apparently, but why and how? And after the revelation of who Diamondback is, I feel like getting to know his childhood as well gave us a better understanding of his character. I would have liked to see his past explained a bit more. They went over it a little too fast in my opinion.
The only thing that I did miss a bit, was the supernatural side of things. In Daredevil and Jessica Jones and off course in all the other movies, we see supernatural things happening and this all is off course a huge part of the Marvel Universe. So this felt totally different and I’m wondering how they will incorporate this and his story into The Defenders storyline. I would have liked to see the storyline of his powers expanded a little bit and to see other characters with supernatural or otherworldly abilities.
Being one of the latest installment of Marvel on Netflix, I do feel it stands out by being more a gangster story and drama, then a real superhero story. After Iron First, that’s already available on Netflix (I’m currently watching this, review to come really soon), The Defenders will be the next series from Marvel to hit our screens all over the world, followed shortly by The Punisher. With a third series for Daredevil, and a second season for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Netflix will be full of Marvel for the following years. And I kinda like it.