Some incoherent thoughts on Marvel’s Luke Cage that I didn’t want to spam Twitter with

Not really a review. Contains SPOILERS, I guess.

While it took me a while to get my head around the villains’ motivations, they are actually quite simple and interesting: these individuals were brought into criminal spheres through their upbringing, or through criminalization after a prison stint that was over-long and ill-conceived, based partially on class and status. Despite these backgrounds, the villains are not overly sympathetic; they are just understandable.

Claire is right – Luke Cage is corny. At times, at least. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Do people in the US – or at least in New York – really take such pride in and have such ideas about the identity of their cities as you see in the Netflix Marvel shows with Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen? I suppose, if I stepped back a little, I would see it as the same kind of identification as one sees when people talk about being in the “Oxford bubble”, but as that tends to be more self-deprecating it feels different.

They like Mike Tyson a bit too much in this show.

This show felt like Daredevil but with its message and its hero’s motivation a little more thought-through, and without so much gratuitous, pointless violence. There are still similar problems – the fact that Luke, like Matt, doesn’t seem to realise that his violence could kill someone whether he intends it to or not – but the greater emphasis on plot over cool-looking fight scenes (which it still had) elevated it for me.

Jessica Jones is still my favourite Netflix Marvel show, but I think that it is personal preference over Luke Cage rather than thinking that it is definitely better. I like detective stories and Noir aesthetics; Jessica Jones has these in spades. The major success Luke Cage has over Jessica Jones is that it doesn’t really get tired or ever feel like episodes are just filler – Jessica Jones‘ primary story only really needed eight episodes, but only one really (“AKA 99 Friends”) felt like it was exploring this character and setting beyond that story.

Given the emphasis the Netflix Marvel shows have been putting on the shifting public opinion, particularly in New York, regarding superheroes, it seems strange that (a) none of these characters appeared in Captain America: Civil War and (b) that the Sokovia Accords receive no mention in this series. I am not sure how I feel about this; on the one hand, I like the Netflix shows more than the Marvel films; on the other, I like the idea of an integrated universe and sometimes it feels like that isn’t really happening.

I need to look at a map of New York.

The guest musical appearances in Luke Cage are great, but sometimes silly. Are the musicians performing at Harlem’s Paradise okay with performing at at place that is a front for supervillainy? What was Method Man doing in that convenience store?

Luke Cage has the best incidental music I’ve heard on a show for a good long while. Possibly ever?

Part of me is interested in Iron Fist because of the set-up for Colleen Wing and the comic book relationship she has with Misty Knight. Misty was the stand-out new character in this series for me, with the possible exception of the wonderfully supervillainous Diamondback, and I would much, much rather see her (and Wing?) get themselves a Netflix series than the Punisher, who is just fucking awful.

Most of me is not interested in Iron Fist, because seeing a white man go to Asia and become The Best Asian is not a story that interests me any more. The resurrection of 1970s casual racism has been well-explored by other writers, as has the obvious suitability of this story for an Asian-American hero. For me, there is much awkwardness at the accented voice-over calling the White Man “our saviour” in the trailer, coupled with the fact that seeing a white dude presented as an outsider who becomes superpowered is so unbelievably overdone, that even without the racist/Orientalist overtones the show seems tired and cliché already. I don’t know if Finn Jones is a super-posh as Charlie Cox who plays the working-class Irish-American Catholic Matt Murdoch or Benedict Cumberbatch who is Doctor Stephen Strange, but the presence of the riduculously posh English guys elsewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already really off-putting.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to The Defenders, with Jess and Luke on screen again. Especially with Sigourney Weaver in it! Brilliant.

Luke Cage is good and if you like that sort of thing you should watch it.


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