If you’re like me, you went into Netflix’s Marvel series Jessica Jones having no knowledge of who Luke Cage was or why he mattered, and emerged on the other side eagerly awaiting the release of the impenetrable hero’s own Netflix series.
All episodes of Luke Cage will be released at once, per Netflix’s usual model, this September 30. With the release date now less than a month away, details about the first season are beginning to pile up, and we’re too eager for the premiere not to speculate about all the super-powered hijinks to come. Let’s review what we know so far about Luke Cage‘s first season and consider just how things might go for this new bulletproof vigilante.
1. The setting
A non-gentrified, crime-ridden version of Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood played a major role in the tone and theme of Marvel’s previous two Netflix series: Jessica Jones and Daredevil. But Luke Cage will find its hero based in a new neighborhood, the historically-black Harlem. Hopefully the show can distinguish the latest setting from the last.
2. The villains
Who would dare try to take down Mike Colter’s near-invincible Luke Cage? The series creators have revealed that the first season will prominently feature the villain Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali), the shady owner of a Harlem nightclub whose illegal doings put him in conflict with Cage. Cottonmouth’s politically-powerful cousin Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), who is committed to bringing about change (whatever that means in this context), also figures into the conflict somehow.
3. The romance
Further complicating things will be the dogged detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick) who is determined to learn more about Luke and his intentions. Don’t be surprised if she loses an arm (it’s replaced with a bionic one made by Tony Stark in the comics) or scores her own series sometime in the future.
While the relationship presumably starts off rocky, a production still of Luke and Misty looking each other in the eyes seems to suggest that she could replace Jessica Jones as his love interest. However, we can’t yet count out the romantic potential of Luke and Rosario Dawson’s kindhearted nurse, Claire Temple (the one non-super-powered link between Marvel’s various Netflix series). Dawson’s character appeared in a recent trailer encouraging Luke to fight back against the forces of corruption in Harlem.
On an unrelated note, according to ScreenCrush, the season is expected to introduce the latest NYC crime fighter to prime him for his own series: Iron Fist (Finn Jones).
4. The cast and crew’s descriptions
Luke Cage‘s showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker called the show “The Wire of Marvel television,” referring of course to HBO’s acclaimed drama about crooked institutions on both sides of the law in Baltimore. While that comparison is enticing, it doesn’t tell us much. The lengthy description of the series from star Mike Colter to ScreenRant provides more concrete details:
There are politicians and then there are shady characters that function on the other side of the law. Who does what? I won’t say, but this becomes a situation where there are a lot of people who want to help Harlem and think they have Harlem’s best interests, but, ultimately, just because they think or say they have Harlem’s best interests, sometimes they’re being very selfish or being very short-sighted. So sometimes what they’re doing is actually harming the community.
So this is where Luke comes in because Luke is a person who likes to, he observes and he listens and he takes in to account what people tell him, and he’s a pretty smart guy himself and he understands that some peoples’ way may not be the best may not be the best in the big picture so ultimately Luke has to get involved because there are a lot of things that happen, a lot of people get hurt, a lot of lives are lost and unfortunately he’s the only one who is capable of actually helping deal with this because sometimes the law enforcement is actually not the best because they’re not aware or they’re not capable, or maybe they’re corrupt. So, without getting into too many details, Luke Cage is gonna have to step up and be the man.
It is starting to sound a little like The Wire, more focused on the complexities of enacting change and the societal repercussions of selfishness than simple super-powered antics. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of those to go around too, however, which only makes me more impatient for September 30 to come around.
5. The music
It might not tell us much about the plot, but the above first season featurette makes me excited about Luke Cage for a whole new reason — the score. The music will be curated by A Tribe Called Quest‘s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge. It’s heartening to see that in a series about a black hero living in the cultural mecca of Harlem, Marvel is doing its best to match its style to the setting and distinguishing the show from its peers with creative musical choices.
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