Comic book fans everywhere rejoiced at the release of the latest Marvel TV series, Netflix's Luke Cage. Adding another storyline to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) made his debut on Jessica Jones before starring in his own spinoff.
As a result, the show had a loyal fan base before it was even available to stream. We know Marvel enthusiasts have a multitude of reasons for binge-watching Luke Cage, but what might encourage a comic virgin to indulge?
1. There’s More To The Story Than Superpowers. But Who Doesn’t Want Superpowers?
The setting in Harlem, New York, imparts a dose of reality to the MCU. Paired with the complexity of the plot, one tends to forget they’re even watching a superhero show. That is, until Luke Cage turns around and punches a hole through the concrete wall.
While the protagonist is indeed bulletproof and abnormally strong, he’s just a regular man trying to live his life. He works hard to pay his bills, tries his best to stay out of the spotlight (with little success), and has been dealt somewhat of a difficult hand. While running from his past, Cage learns he must instead confront it in order to move forward. This gives a particular insight into the depth of his character outside of his special powers.
2. Luke Cage Is Funny — Even Though He’s Pretty Much Miserable
Given how intimidating and serious Colter’s character is, you tend to focus on his pain above everything else. That’s why it catches you off guard when, in the middle of a dramatic scene, he cracks a sassy one-liner.
He has an unexpected sense of humor that makes his character all the more likable and entertaining. It also works like magic on the ladies, but that has nothing to do with his super abilities.
3. Luke Cage Is Hot, In A Regina George Kind Of Way
It’s true! Whether you love him, hate him (yeah, right) or want to be him, you have to admit that Luke Cage is pretty much the shit. If you’re not into men, he may just change that. If he doesn’t, he remains perfectly acceptable man-crush fodder.
Remember when Mean Girls’ Regina George sported a top with holes in it, only to inspire everyone else to follow suit? Well, Luke Cage has that same fashionista queen bee factor. The only difference is, the holes in his clothes are from bullets. Watch out, Regina!
You have 13 episodes in which to fall in love with Luke Cage while gazing at Colter’s muscles. If for some reason that doesn’t suffice, in struts Rosario Dawson, with her doe eyes and impressive lifesaving skills.
4. A Badass Female Cast That Doesn’t Need Superpowers To Demonstrate Strength
The lead protagonist Luke Cage is accompanied by a solid male supporting cast, including Theo Rossi (Hernan "Shades" Alvarez), Erik LaRay Harvey (Willis "Diamondback" Stryker) and Mahershala Ali (Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes). However, the supporting female cast is what really elevates the show.
Whether they fight for good or evil, these women embody empowerment in all its forms. Featuring Claire Temple — a fearless nurse played by Rosario Dawson — and Misty Knight — a determined detective played by Simone Missick — the show offers up some remarkable counterparts for Luke to bounce off.
Indeed, Alfre Woodard’s role as Councilwoman Mariah Dillard is powerful and intimidating, with the character displaying somewhat questionable ethics. Add in other ballsy female characters, such as Inspector Priscilla Ridley (Karen Pittman) or Soledad Temple (Sonia Braga), and you’ll see that not a single one of these characters would ever take no for an answer.
5. The MCU Tackles Real-World Issues As Well As Supervillains
Setting the Netflix series in Harlem allows the series to address today's current affairs, not just fictional ones within the MCU. Numerous controversial matters, such as gentrification, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, are at the center of the plot.
Protecting, preserving and embracing Harlem and its community are among the main themes of Luke Cage. We get a unique perspective on Harlem’s culture, which allows those familiar with the neighborhood to relate, and those who are unfamiliar to learn.
6. What’s Harlem Without Great Music?
With Luke Cage placing an emphasis on Harlem’s culture and history, the fictional nightclub Harlem’s Paradise appears as a recurrent location in the show. Known for its live music, local performers are showcased, spotlighting various musical genres including jazz, blues and rap.
A majority of the soundtrack — along with the opening-credits theme song — features recordings by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. You’ll also enjoy songs by Raphael Saadiq and The Delfonics.
You may begin your Luke Cage binge-watch as a Marvel newbie, but chances are you’ll be converted by the end of the season. By that time, you’ll be searching for a way to pursue your newfound MCU love, in which case we strongly suggest you add Daredevil and Jessica Jones to your watch list, if you haven’t already.
What’s your favorite non-superhero aspect of Luke Cage? Sounds off in the comments below.