Black Man in a Hoodie

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Luke Cage is Marvel’s newest and edgiest superhero series. The 13-episode first season released on Netflix on October 1 is a bit of a mix bag, with likable and complicated characters but a lukewarm storyline.

Luke Cage, the man, is very likable, someone you certainly root for. He is a gentle giant until you provoke him or hurt those he cares about. He is smart, decent, generous and even a little corny. He is also a reluctant- although not an anti-hero.

Luke Cage, the show, is perhaps the social conscience of the Marvel universe. The show’s social message, woven into the storyline, makes it compelling for me. Luke Cage confronts several heavy social issues: Black Lives Matter, police militarization, mass incarceration, institutionalized bias, and even references recent police shootings.

Unlike Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, which showcases broader plot lines (Infinity Stones and intergalactic confrontations), the Netflix shows are localized, so far to Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem. The geographical focus parallels the focus of the storytelling, which in turn allows for more experimentation and risks. Luke Cage has grittier language and more sexual content than anything Marvel has done to date. It also features the best music of all the Marvel shows thus far.

Next up in the Marvel-Netflix universe is Iron Fist, set to come out in 2017. Then after that, The Defenders featuring all the heroes–Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist–joining forces to defend New York City. With all the current and upcoming Marvels movies and shows, this universe is getting very small.