When first announced, the Marvel Studios decision to use Netflix and TV to put out lower budget works for some of their side heroes sounded a bit specious.
However, we are now five series in to that decision- Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and now Luke Cage, with another half dozen on the way. Though Agents of Shield is a debate point, the decision is looking good overall.
The fact that most of these series focus on characters with less flashy powers, if any at all, is part of what makes these successful (and not doing so is likely part of why Agents of SHIELD has struggled). Luke Cage, of course, continues this trend. It also continues the trend of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to interlink properties. Luke was introduced in the Jessica Jones series, which itself carried forward the character Claire Temple, who is also carried forward into Luke Cage.
The most notable thing about the Luke Cage series is that it is, well, very black. In an aversion to typical casting, white actors could probably be counted on one hand. The series also presents several prominent women, in fact, some of the most socially powerful characters in the series are women. The diversity displayed in this makes the entire series worth every dollar spent on it alone.
But in addition to just being an astoundingly diverse work, the series is also very enjoyable and quite well written. If I were to look for one fault, it’s that Marvel put their first black hero into a story about financially struggling while dealing with stereotypical “inner-city problems.” It’s kind of like how shortly after The Force Awakens came out, some outlets rushed to paint John Boyega with the biggest stereotype brush it could find. But at the same time, Luke Cage is a hugely important character, and the series does not forget his significance, and in fact renews the significance of a bullet-proof black man in the current world. If anything, Luke Cage is even more significant now, and the interactions between police, even black officers, and the largely black cast, the mention of dashcams, and Luke’s nearly-ubiquitous hoodie all echo our current reality.
The series utilizes Claire Temple more than Daredevil or Jessica Jones, and introduces Misty Knight, both of whom are likely to feature in The Defenders.
Each small screen entry into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe only gets better and more engaging. Iron Fist (the other half of Heroes for Hire, teased several times in Luke Cage) promises to be phenomenal, even with it’s less-than-culturally-sensitive-baggage.