While broadcast TV has some strong super hero shows to offer (“The Flash,” “Agents of Shield”), it’s Netflix that is really making great strides with partner Marvel to provide gritty and engaging comic fare. They’re first swing at bat was “Daredevil,” which is superior to the Ben Affleck’s 2003 film in every way.
Second came “Jessica Jones,” a series running parallel to “Daredevil” in story, but not in likability. Krysten Ritter’s snarky, angry lead character plays second fiddle to the villain, superbly played by former Dr. Who David Tennant. Plodding and soul-less, the only thing good about “Jessica Jones” is that it introduces us to Luke Cage, a bulletproof hero who now gets his Netflix series.
Wrongfully accused, a victim of an experiment gone wrong, Luke Cage is a man trying to make sense of his life and his superhuman strength/impenetrable skin. Living in Harlem, it takes a tragedy for the reluctant hero to square off against the crooked politicians and mobsters threatening to destroy the city.
Mike Colter (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Good Wife”) is outstanding as Cage, bringing emotional depth along with butt-kicking awesomeness. You feel for Cage as he tries to live his life, but destiny keeps thrusting him into situations where his power must be used for the greater good. Unfortunately, not just the bad guys get hurt.
The first season is addictive, beginning with it’s funky ’70s -like theme song. Th character of Cage was introduced back in the ’70s, so the production, while set in modern time, keeps a funky. “Shaft” flavor weaving throughout with its music and references to the character’s comics origins.
The show has a very political feel, dealing with issues like racial profiling, police brutality, and governmental corruption. It also continues the narrative thread that’s been running through Marvel’s “Avengers” movies that humanity is coming to grips with the fact that super-powered people and aliens are real.
It’s not vital to have seen “Daredevil” or “Jessica Jones” to know what’s going on in ‘Luke Cage.” You may be a bit bewildered, at first, as to who Rosario Dawson’s character Claire Temple is. Cage’s eventual love interest, she is introduced in “Daredevil” (the majority of her backstory appears here) and she appears in “Jessica Jones,” as well. Dawson shines as a funny, feisty and determined nurse who patches up just about everyone after battle.
“Luke Cage” is fun, emotional and action-packed. Definitely binge watch worthy. I think if you like comics-based shows, this, as well as ‘Daredevil” are a must-see.