It’s safe to say that we are nearing a time when we will soon be crushed under the onslaught of comic book adaptations. It’s a shame, as some of the most enjoyable films in recent years have displayed one or more characters with powers, but we’ve also seen tireless retreads of dark, gritty films wherein the heroes must battle with their inner turmoil over whether they are a force for good, or simply a less destructive villain. It’s hard to cram plenty of character development into two and a half hours, which is why TV series of the same characters often receive greater praise than their big screen counterparts.
Unfortunately, even those seem to be heading into a nosedive as well, if Luke Cage is anything to go by…
It really is a shame to see the series (which follows on from Daredevil and Jessica Jones, each a fantastic series in their own rights, as well as when compared to the mainstream heroes in the cinema) lose its lustre as the series progresses. It’s interesting to see the difference between the positive review of the first episode compared to the rest of the series, however, when compared to its predecessors, the Hero of Harlem can’t quite cut the mustard.
That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty that’s positive to talk about. The performances given by the main cast are superb, with Colter playing the titular hero in a very withdrawn and secretive manner that suggests he just wants to be left alone, and Erik LaRay Harvey playing his psychotic nemesis as a man out to destroy everything Cage has ever held dear. Due to events that happened in the past, there is plenty to sink your teeth into when it comes to the pathos. It’s just a shame that the finale sees the two of them beating each other up in front of a crowd of people, very reminiscent of a schoolyard fight and an ending which doesn’t deliver a worthy climax that we saw with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. As a matter of fact, plenty of elements from Luke Cage could lead to it almost being called Daredevil, albeit one with a much more racially diverse cast (which can only be a good thing).
While the story and pacing may leave something to be desired, the soundtrack is a thing of beauty to listen to. Managing to capture the soul of Harlem, the music shows its roots in blues, funk and hip-hop, and adds more power to the show through the live acts in Cottonmouth’s club, which showcase the diversity of the music-scene in and around the area.
Ultimately, Luke Cage is not a bad series, and if you’re a fan of the character or the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, it’s unlikely that you’ll be disappointed. However, one can’t help but feel that this series is the start of darker things to come for the superhero genre. Its ideas have been played out, and there doesn’t appear to be much more room to continue retelling the same stories before it all comes crashing down around the heads of the heads of DC and Marvel. Maybe I’m wrong, and the next few films and TV series from these companies will blow me away, but until then, I’m not going to hold my breath.
Luke Cage is available on Netflix