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TV Review: Marvel’s Luke Cage S1E1 Moment of Truth

Luke Cage PosterWith tension building in the streets of Harlem thanks to ruthless club owner Cottonmouth, Luke finds it increasingly difficult to live a quiet life.

I can’t quite think of any television show that’s driven as much by its soundtrack as the visuals and what is said. Marvel’s Luke Cage is the latest in Marvel‘s live action Netflix series following Daredevil’s two seasons and Jessica Jones. A string of connected live action shows which expand the shared universe that began on the big movie screen to the small television screen. And that shared universe is checked in many ways as the show early on sets the stage referencing events that we saw in the Avengers. There’s also name checks like Justin Hammer, a character we saw in Iron Man 2.

But, that’s just a small detail for a show that is more of a continuation of the gritty street level blaxploitation films of the 70s such as Shaft, Super Fly, Coffy, Foxy Brown, and others. Like those films, this show is fueled by the thumping funk and soul music setting a tone and direction.

The first episode feels like it’d be right at home during that time period with a look, tone, and characters that would fit into any of those films. The first episode sets the tone and what we cna expect going forward for this season’s thirteen episodes, the characters, the conflict, and some of the noir-ish aspects.

The acting is solid, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage presents a character who is clearly haunted by his past and unsure what he should be doing with his future. It adds much more depth to a character introduced in Jessica Jones and wasn’t given much in the ways of all of that.

The first episode sets it all up as to what we can expect from the series and much like the previous two Netflix series, this one stands out on its own in tone, look, and what it has to say. While Daredevil and Jessica Jones used New York and Hell’s Kitchen as their setting, it’s clear Harlem is as much a character for Luke Cage as any other. And in doing so, it may be giving us our truly first “street level” character.

Overall Rating: 9