Luke Cage: The New Hero The World Didn’t Know it Needed


Cast of “Luke Cage”, photo courtesy of Netflix.

Janine Jones, Copy Editor

The Netflix – Marvel partnership is ever growing and increasingly successful. So far, the stories have been focused on second-tier superheroes, like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and now Luke Cage, which is quite possibly the best and the realest of all three heroes.

Luke Cage is a black hero with super strength and impenetrable skin – anything that hits him either bounces off or breaks (a few guys learned this the hard way). In the beginning, he’s a mystery man, the kind of guy that lays low and works in the background. Cage works two jobs, one as a janitor in a local barbershop and the other as a dishwasher and sometimes bartender at the club, Harlem’s Paradise.

Cage, who would’ve loved nothing more than to stay under the radar, tries to stop local power-obsessed mob boss, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (yes, like the snake) at the request of his mentor of sorts, Pop. Cage is also trying to get revenge for Pop after one of Cottonmouth’s goons decided to make an ‘executive decision’ that resulted in his downfall, literally.

Soon, Cage finds out that the problem doesn’t just lie with one person, but multiple people who not only want power, but want to see him lose his new hero title in a permanent sense, and will go as far as frame him for murder (twice) and threaten him with exposing his old life. Which wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t a presumed dead fugitive of a seaside prison in the state of Georgia. Luke Cage also gets a surprising blast from the past in the crazy, Bible toting, Scripture quoting, and even bigger mob boss, Diamondback (yes, another snake name).

Harlem’s Paradise is the center of all the chaos and evil happenings in the show. The audience learns that before the club was owned by Cottonmouth, his grandmother, Mama Mabel, who was the original Harlem mob boss, founded the club. It’s safe to say that illegal transactions and murder are practically built into the club’s architecture. When there isn’t criminal activity happening in the club, there are incredible performances by artists like Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans, Jidenna, and Sharon Jones. One of the most powerful performances is Jidenna’s “Long Live the Chief” in the fifth episode, where he performs to a crowd of none, except Cottonmouth in his VIP area.

The setting for the show is in present day Harlem. Visual and spoken references to Harlem’s culture and history are weaved into the storyline and cast as the motivation for many of the characters’ actions. Especially as Luke Cage and Cottonmouth battle for ‘the soul of Harlem’. Some of the names dropped in the series as part of Harlem’s history were Langston Hughes, Billy Strayhorn, Percy Sutton, and A$AP Rocky. As another salute to the city, Mariah Dillard, a corrupt politician and cousin to Cottonmouth, named her development plan the New Harlem Renaissance.

If you were toying with the idea of watching the new Netflix series, definitely do yourself the favor. The show’s story of revenge, redemption, and love is sure to resonate with its audience. Luke Cage is the new hero the world didn’t know it needed.