It is true. The first season of Luke Cage could have been tighter. And while I agree with Mike Hale of the New York Times that the show’s lead Mike Colter didn’t feel “comfortable” carrying the show, I also agree with Rebecca Theodore when she countered with a resounding cry that black people are “not your sidekicks.” The show felt bloated in parts, it could have been trimmed back into 10 episodes instead of 13 but it is still a feat of epic proportions. Cheo Hodari Coker, the series showrunner, assembled the blackest cast to tell a black story on Netflix and it’s what I needed. If Solange poured warm honey in my ears with her seminal album A Seat At The Table, Coker surely washed my eyes with powerful images of black people on an adventure as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I wrote off Captain America: The First Avenger as a boring film because it didn’t meet my expectations- it, like this season of Luke Cage, was unevenly paced and Steve Rogers like Cage is almost irritatingly respectable. I then ignored Winter Soldier, it’s successor, and decided Captain America was dry like bread back until I saw the trailer for Civil War. Long story short for two years I missed out on the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because I didn’t give Anthony and Joe Russo time to build the character. I made amends and watched the Captain America Trilogy in one night and got my life.
Let go of what you think you deserve from Luke Cage. This one show will not address all the wrongs about representation of people of colour on screen but what it will do is introduce you to some awesome characters, which is what I’ve been crying out for. The most important being Misty Knight played by the delectable Simone Missik who, according to the evidence provided in this tweet needs her own series. We’ll get onto her later.
Without further ado, here are the Best One Liners From Luke Cage. Be warned this is full of major spoilers from here on out, you know the drill; don’t get lost in the sauce and try to blame me.
1. You can collect your money from Tone downstairs! -Cottonmouth
Maharsala Ali played Cottonmouth, Luke Cage’s for the first act of the series and he was a formidable, handsome foe. Justin Charity rightly pointed out “greater meaning or purpose to their conflict” and I too keep thinking “they could actually work together if they actually spoke.” Cottonmouth was a better adversary than Diamondback because his menace and motivations were more clearly articulated. Alas, we were only treated to a few episodes of Maharsali’s greatness. *weeps*
2. Slavery was always a good offer to a master. -Luke Cage
When Luke was in Seagate Prison sporting the worst lacefront afro-beard combo since Shemar Moore’s in Diary of a Mad Black Woman, he was forced to fight other inmates to save his best friend Squabbles. All his efforts were for nought cos like all superheroes he’s good at saving the general public, but if you’re friends with Cage you gon’ die. LOL. *pours out licquor for Squabbeles*
3. Why can't coffee just be coffee? -Luke Cage
This show is overflowing with sexual tension. I really thought the makers of the show were going to give Power’s raunchiness a run for its money. It was never meant to be however because other than a wonderful encounter between Misty and Luke in episode one we never again see anyone getting down and dirty in the sheets. According to the comics, Luke gets married to Jessica Jones so I wasn’t surprised when he and Rosario Dawson’s character, nurse Claire Temple did actually just have coffee.
4. I did not want it! -Mariah Dillard
The most important aspect of the Luke Cage series is that its writers present you complex characters both heroes and villains who exist beyond their race. Mariah Dillard, played by Alfre Woodard, was molested by her uncle when she was a child and Cottonmouth throws this in her face claiming she wanted it and encouraged his advances. This is a form of victim blaming that is used to undermine the victims of sexual predatory and place the onus on them. Woodard’s performance is brilliant in capturing the frustration of people who have survived sexual violence. When she shouts “I DID NOT WANT IT” as she beats him to death, you believe her. You empathise with her as a person more. This is what has been missing from representations of black villains in the past- context. Why are they the way they are? What made them become villains. Black people in film and television are rarely afforded the level of exposition they are in Luke Cage- the space to live and breathe as characters. For that, I am eternally grateful to Coker and his creative team.
5. The first time we talked, he looked in my eyes.. not at my breasts... -Misty Knight
Sis, I know that feeling. There are indicators in my own personal life that help me identify worthy lovers and like Misty, eye to eye, not eye to breast contact is imperative. Listen, Misty needs her own Netflix immediately. Simone Missick stole the show. She’s so charismatic, so dynamic and considering that in the Marvel Comic World Misty has so many more powers than Luke Cage including superhuman strength, technoapthy, magnetism and concussive blasts, there’s no reason that she can’t carry her own series. There is a seat for her at the table and I can’t wait to watch her eat a lion’s share of the food.
6. You speak like you're not in the presence of death - Diamondback
I wish they would have amalgamated the Cottonmouth and Diamondback into one super villain instead of having me invest all this disgust in Cottonmouth when they knew Diamondback was coming along with an even more despicable and actually a more compelling backstory. Diamondback was Luke’s half brother and harboured extreme hatred for him. We needed more understanding of Diamondback. How did he know how to design the Judas bullets that pierced Luke’s skin? Where had he been all these years? Was that in there and I just didn’t clock? Whatever the case may have been Diamondback would have been an even greater enemy if the time spent building Cottonmouth’s backstory had been spent developing him
7. Do I trust the police? Not blindly. -Mariah Dillard
Luke Cage isforthright in its portrayal of police. They are simultaneously just and unjust. The show doesn’t shy away from speaking about police brutality and the thinking behind the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement. Until Luke Cage dons his actual superhero outfit, we see him don a hoodie drawing attention again to the killing of Trayvon Martin and highlighting that a hoodie is an item of clothing- not an indication of guilt. The show presents the police as what they are- human, fallible. And that is to be commended cos that’s what they are. It would be easy to portray all police as a monolith- as all bad, but Luke Cage is challenging in that way. While I do not like police, I love Misty and she’s a police office, thus forcing me to cast a more discerning eye at them… in this show at leas.t
8. Being bullet proof is always gonna come second to being black. -Method Man
Method Man is the symbol that a film or TV show has reached the highest heights of blackness. Luke Cage is as black a show as you’re gonna get. The thing I love most is that its representation of blackness does not exclude black women but instead lifts them up into roles where they are powerful and worthy adversaries for the men. While its politics are clearly polarising. http://www.vox.com/2016/10/2/13138192/luke-cage-season-1-review-netflix-marvel the one thing we are sure about is that despite his superpowers Luke Cage had to literally fight in the street in front of the police to prove that he was a good guy. Even with a police detective vouching for him, no benefit of doubt was extended to him so while I was excited Luke Cage was finally here, throughout my epic binge I never forgot that many of his issues were because of the colour of his skin.
I will be back for the second season. This first season was clearly the team finding their feet with the wonderful source material. I know they will resolve the issues and have their own Winter Soldier moment in the seasons to come. I also believe Misty Knight will have her own time in the sun, because for me she is the real hero of the show. Get Tony Stark working on her bionic arm post haste.
What were your favourite one liners?
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