Posted October 16, 2016 by Mico Orda in Movies/TV

TV REVIEW: LUKE CAGE Season 1 Brings the Hero out of Everyone!

When Marvel Cinematic Universe released Iron Man in 2008, it redefined the comic book genre, boasting a huge scale, larger than life cinematic feel from the comics with some realism and grit and then it followed more successful titles that generated box office, putting Marvel in the map.

Flash forward years later, when the studio came to Netflix, debuting their first show, Daredevil paved way of the genre: grittier, mature, street level and more character-driven, given television’s episodic, serialized narrative, it allowed to flesh out characters as well as the overall tone especially the shows has their own specific tone.

Luke Cage picks up a couple of months after Jessica Jones. Now living a mundane life in Harlem, works two jobs to meet his ends, Luke has finally lived a mundane life and when the community is oppressed by a notorious gangster, Cornell Stokes AKA Cottonmouth, reluctant bulletproof hero steps up and becomes “Harlem’s Captain America” quoting Cornell.


While Cage is the show’s hero, the narrative revolves around Harlem and its prevailing social issues circling the community such as corruption, say Mariah Dillard taking political favors for her career, media manipulation, racism and corruption where the cops prey on African Americans, Latinos and other minorities and it makes a gripping watch because the themes are thought provoking, it allows the audience to reflect on these same issues that has been going on in real life, thus raising an awareness.

But despite of the violence and corruption in Harlem that has been going on, it’s a sense of community that makes the individuals keep up their morale and their humility, the hip-hop music and its songs brings the show’s soul that were brilliantly performed by Jidenna, Adrian Lounge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Method Man), etc. through the 13 episodes echoes a statement.

Luke Cage as a character is the surrogate audience, he may be bulletproof but his reluctance to accept who he is what adds the human factor, basically it’s overcoming that doubt, steps up and becomes the voice; Luke being bulletproof is a metaphor for his selfless personality and willing to fight for what he believes in. Luke becomes the voice and brings out the hero out in every individual at Harlem, showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker delivers a universal message that you don’t need a costume or someone special and be the hero you want.

Mike Colter brings a raw, intense performance as Luke Cage. He makes every scene a moment and shares it with his fellow actors, and on top of that, there is a humility that is honest he brings to the character and it balances well with Cage’s angst. Colter stands out in every dramatic scene without being over-the-top but instead he’s more a nuanced actor and channels the character’s expressions.


Mahershala Ali breaks away from the usual gangster trope on his portrayal as Cornell Stokes AKA Cottonmouth bringing a more well-rounded approach:  there’s sadness, frustration and twisted in between and Ali carries those traits in every scene and doesn’t hold back and that is what makes Ali captivating to watch. I like the fact in every scene he either delivers a monologue or demonstrates his brutality, he just breaks loose without putting much effort and just channels that anger.



Alfre Woodard’s gives an intricately complex spin on playing Mariah Dillard, an ambitious councilwoman. Woodard manipulates different shades of denial but slowly succumbs to power as the story progresses and then there comes a point where Mariah makes her delusion into as reality, embracing her flaws and finally becoming the cold, sociopathic politician and watching Alfre Woodard transforming Mariah Dillard into Black Mariah is akin to a Shakespearean tragedy and some comedy to it.


Theo Rossi’s Shades Alvarez is more than just a henchman. The actor’s smooth, eloquent manner of speaking is what manifests his charisma, he keeps his calm, observes the whole situation and Rossi brings a graceful yet lethal screen presence.


Simone Missick stands out as Misty Knight. She doesn’t portray a woman in a man’s world and she’s her own character. In between her compassionate, strong and no nonsense on her acting, it was great to see her flaws as a detective such as being level-headed, obsessive and short-tempered is what makes her human and more grounded, relatable to the audience,; in some ways, Missick reminds me of Sofie Grabol’s Sarah Lund from ‘The Killing’. If there’s one great memorable Misty Knight moment, that is her visualization skills and using her photographic memory.


Special mention to Frankie Faison as Pop, he brought wisdom and he brings the moral voice to Harlem and brought the best out of Colter’s Cage. Also, Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple’s reprisal is a welcome sight, she becomes feistier, a moral compass much like Pop and she has the wit that keeps her composure.

Overall, the show does a great job on tackling relevant issues today that has been happening such as numerous gun shootings, corruption, racism and so on, and Luke Cage not only a superhero but a symbol that encourages us to stand up against and thus making the message timely and the actors portrayed their roles in a truthful, dignified way, making it not only authentic but the best ensemble acting so far on television has to offer.

It’s a home run for Marvel and Netflix once again! And now it’s time mark your calendars on March 17 next year for the final defender, Iron Fist.


Mico Orda

A passionate, enthusiastic writer, Mico Orda utilizes his filmmaking skills to keep his writer’s edge. He enjoys a lot of outdoor activities, which juice up his creative juices.