Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ is a blast of developed character and exciting drama


Luke Cage
A promotional still from Netflix's "Luke Cage." (IMDB)

Photo courtesy of IMDB

Netflix and Marvel released their newest collaboration last Friday, and the need to binge-watch it is as rock-solid as our muscle-bound protagonist.

Marvel’s “Luke Cage” is a fantastic feat of the continued humanization of superheroes in media. While similar shows, such as “Daredevil,” provided focus to the character’s martial arts prowess and action, “Luke Cage” gives equal attention to the characters’ mental state and the culture surrounding them.

Character is everywhere in the world of television but it seems to be rarely implanted successfully. Fortunately for all the Netflix subscribers, “Luke Cage” is brimming with satisfying character.

From the simple mannerisms of the rigid Luke Cage to the menacing stares of Copperhead, the show is able to construct fully three-dimensional characters, while sporting all of the chops of an entertaining superhero show. Lesser action series frame their heroes and villains as interesting or quick-witted at the expense of their believability.

Of course, “Luke Cage’s” dialogue is sharp in its own right, but balanced against the true dedication of the actors. To find a lackluster performance from anyone in the main cast would be a superhuman feat.

Through their believable and often heart-wrenching performances, each actor displays the inner workings of their character for all Netflix viewers to see.

This ability is clearly visible for Mike Colter, as Luke Cage is obviously a role that he cares about extensively. The show deals with the mental demons that Cage wrestles within a very adult and thought-provoking way. He feels trapped between his peaceful nature and the responsibility he feels for his loved ones. This dilemma creates a fascinating dichotomy within Cage and makes for a supremely satisfying payoff.

The main antagonist of the series is as entertaining as he is intimidating.

Netflix, thankfully, has not shied away from brutality in the new Marvel series, and that aspect is widely-apparent in the villain. Copperhead, aka Cornell Stokes, establishes yet another well-rounded and engrossing criminal for the Netflix/Marvel partnership.

He is a chilling tactician and, somehow, frighteningly unpredictable. He’s a man with a plan, but his mental stability is constantly in question as greed and power swallows him whole.

Stokes is played by “House of Cards” veteran Mahershala Ali, and he applies a great amount of subtlety to his character. Much of his dive into near-madness is displayed by Ali’s understated facial expressions. These subtleties in the more quiet scenes contrast remarkably well with the fervent action sequences involving Copperhead.

“Luke Cage’s” action sequences are not as visually impressive as that of “Daredevil,” but they are undeniably creative, since it’s clear that great pains were made to bring the personalities of the characters into the action. This aspect breaths life into otherwise underwhelming choreography, as Cage bashes heads and spouts one-liners. The pacing and camera work are also a huge benefit in this area, as each shot is well placed and provides the viewer with ample time to become lost in the fun.

And how could we forget the inventive soundtrack. It’s nearly impossible not to jive and head-bob when that contagious music starts playing. The creators of “Luke Cage” utilize each track to provide Harlem its own personality and set the tone throughout the scenes.

“Luke Cage” realized the fine line that many movies or TV shows cross, as the Netflix show knows when to include music and when to keep the scene quiet.

In many of the heavier and subtle moments, music is not utilized at all, providing the situation with extra gravitas. While this doesn’t “sound” impressive, it takes a considerable amount of restraint to establish the mood that is created. Of course, if the fun soundtrack is needed, it’s there with bells, drums and trumpets on.

Despite Marvel’s numerous other superhero outings, “Luke Cage” provides its audience with something fresh and ripe with charisma.

From the music to the characters, the creativity is palpable, and the show finds a way to seamlessly mix drama with lighthearted entertainment.

Cage himself has a tough exterior, literally, but is able to generate a magnetism that is not obtained by many protagonists. The attention to detail is truly honorable from a production standpoint, and Marvel did a fantastic job appointing the men and women helming the series.

An enjoyable burst of interesting figures and obvious talent, “Luke Cage” will leave most viewers excited for what’s to come.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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