--> The first Season of Netflix’s Luke Cage lost a step on the Back Six episodes with The Judas Bullet and Diamondback’s clumsy story arc. However in season 2 not only has Netflix’s Luke Cage managed to find it’s footing again, but it’s moved right past the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to become the best superhero adaptation Marvel has ever produced.
Netflix’s Luke Cage takes the characters of the Marvel comic to another level in season 2. In the second season of Luke Cage, Luke is trying to follow the Late Pop’s advice and keep moving forward. As he moves on towards rebuilding his life, he’s dealing with the consequences and ramifications of being Harlem’s hero. No longer an invisible man in the shadows he’s out in the spotlight. And as that light shines on him we’re left to ponder if the bulletproof Black man is on his way to becoming a god or if he’s on his way to becoming a monster.
As Cage ponders offers and endorsement deals for his newfound popularity he struggles with his relationship with his estranged father, his straining relationship with Claire Temple who worries that she won’t be able to help Luke if he gets hurt again. While the bulletproof Black man is twice as invulnerable from the second Power Man Bath he took later in Season 1, we realize that the man inside is vulnerable to the frailties of his humanity as he takes numerous blows to his ego from his friends and his enemies.
While Cage investigates who’s behind producing a brand of heroin with his name on it, he’s drawn into a mystery involving Shades, and Mariah Dillard who are out to sell their guns to go legit by to buying a black-owned plastics company. Shades and Mariah want to force the owner to sell it to them for pennies on the dollar so they can get rich at his expense. However, what they don’t know is that the buyer for their guns is the mysterious Bushmaster a Jamaican gangster from Brooklyn who wants to expand his territory into Harlem as he looks to get revenge on the Stokes family. With Bushmaster taking out the competition, it becomes a Battle for Harlem as Mariah and are looking to sell out the Black community and Cage is looking to protect it from the deadly and vicious Bushmaster who has powers equal to Cage himself.
With Bushmaster Marvel Studios FINALLY learns how to write a Bad Guy. Bushmaster is a complete BADASS who DOMINATES the screen in EVERY scene he’s in. From his swagger to his badass Eddie Gordo style Tekken 3 Capoiera moves Bushmaster lets everyone know he’s the one running the show when he’s onscreen. Whether he’s in a scene with Cage or with Mariah or on his own, he’s got such presence onscreen you just want to see more of him in every episode.
All I can say is Luke Cage Season 2 is a CLASSIC. Artistically, Cage Season 2 takes its craft to the next level with beautiful cinematography, strong acting, and top notch writing. The visuals for every episode are like a fusion of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Tim Burton’s Batman. Combined with the hip-hop, blues, and jazz tracks used in every episode and we’re transported to a Harlem that feels so distinct you feel like you’re being taken to a world that’s completely different than anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I love the use of contrast in the visuals between Cage’s Harlem and Bushmaster’s Brooklyn. How Cage operates out of Pop’s Barber Shop and how Bushmaster operates out of a Caribbean restaurant. And I love the use of music to set tones for scenes. Whether it be Jazz, hip-hop, R&B or Soul, Cage uses music that becomes a character just like many of the parts of Harlem and Brooklyn become characters in the storyline for the season.
With Luke Cage Season 2 we finally have an example of what I’m talking about regarding MORE. Instead of giving us the flash of MCU movies, we get SUBSTANCE that makes for compelling storytelling. Cage gives us a group of rich multidimensional characters in a complex and thought-provoking story arc that takes us into the WHOLE Black community and shows us the WHOLE Black experience. Each episode feels like it’s CRAFTED not manufactured like Marvel movies like Avengers: Infinity War. Every line has a purpose, every action has a reason. There’s layers depth and nuance to the storytelling and Harlem feel like you’re in a world that’s all it’s own in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While Cage Season 2 is rock solid, it does have it’s flaws. I’m not a fan of all the gynocentrism that’s trying to creep into the show. The scene where Cage is playing Cap’n-Save-Em’ in one episode to Cockroach’s girlfriend had Cage simping on a level I saw in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. Yeah, I get that Cage is a hero. But a streetwise Brotha is smart enough to understand he doesn’t put the cape on for females who chose their abuser. That kind of brother would be smart enough know with his criminal record he needs to let the cops do their job in this case.
And I wasn’t a fan of Piranha Jones and all the cooning he did in one episode. The entire party where made an appearance for Piranha Jones to get the money comes across like a minstrel show with the White boys seeing cage as one big Joke. Wanted to see Cage Check that, but the episode went on with no correction of the cooning.
And I’m definitely not a fan of the use of the N-Word throughout the season. In season 1 of Cage everyone was dignified enough to not to use that word. Seeing the use of that word is one of those things that concerns me.
Netflix still has some issues with writing and pacing, the plotting is a little uneven in some episodes and the pacing of some episodes still slows things down. Some episodes like episode 6 and 7 had scenes that were repetitive and dialogue that ran too long, and some scenes like Bushmasters second fight with Cage were completely unnecessary. Netflix would have a PERFECT show in Luke cage if they’d just tighten up some of their production values and learn when enough was enough.
In spite of my misgivings regarding some of the production and story issues regarding Season 2 I can honestly say there definitely need to be some Emmy nominations for Cage this year because this show took it to another level. Mike Cotler is in top form as Cage, Alfre Woodard gives her best performance of her career as Mariah, Simone Missick is KILLING it as Misty Knight. Practically Channels Jack Nicholson for his cerebral performance as Bushmaster. And Salli Richardson-Whitfield needs to be nominated for a director Emmy because Episode 4 of Cage was a MASTERPIECE from FADE IN to FADE OUT. The cast and producers need to be rewarded for doing an AMAZING job on this show, and if this show got no nominations from the Emmy people that’d be a CRIME.
You can’t miss Luke Cage Season 2! Every episode of Cage isn’t just a superhero show, it’s an EXPERIENCE. With Luke Cage Season 2 Marvel Studios finally has a series that’s on the level of Tim Burton’s Batman 89 and Chris Nolan and David Goyer’s The Dark Knight. Cage Season 2 gets my highest recommendation; this is a season you just CAN’T MISS!