“Luke Cage”: A Black Superhero

lukecage3721If the original 1970s version of Luke Cage were to turn up in 2016, he would be sure to get some funny looks. The Guardian says: Debuting at the height of Blaxploitation in 1972, Marvel Comics’ first African American superhero to get his own title sported a gaudy open-chested canary-yellow jacket, chain belt, lavish afro and bizarre steel tiara. His catchphrase, “Sweet Christmas!” would have made even Chef from South Park grimace with embarrassment. Instead of ignoring Cage’s history, Netflix’s latest Marvel show has embraced all that cultural resonance, but given the man with bulletproof skin and superhuman strength a refit for the 21st century. Netflix subscribers may already have seen Cage in last year’s “Jessica Jones,” where Mike Colter (pictured) delivered a performance of hushed potency as the superpowered PI’s

sometimes paramour. Now he’s out on his own, in a show that’s supposedly a sequel but feels more like a prequel, and in which we learn just how he came by his spectacular powers.

The first seven episodes suggest a slow burner – just the kind of story arc that works so well as binge TV, but would never survive on a network. As the show opens, the mysterious Cage is lying low in a New York barbershop, that traditional fulcrum of African American cultural identity, hiding his powers and working menial jobs to pay the rent. But it’s not too long before the new guy in town is forced to face up to the fact that the community he’s living in is rotten to the core, and only he has the abilities to take down the bullies.

Leave a Comment