Note: There will be spoilers. Only read after seeing the episode.
The opening scene of “Marvel’s Luke Cage” set the tone for the series. Luke minding his own business, sweeping up a barbershop while hip-hop music played and an argument of basketball occurred. We get some Easter eggs like Pop calling him Power Man and a bootlegger trying to sell footage of The Incident from “Marvel’s The Avengers”, as well as name drops of Kingpin and Justin Hammer. The dichotomy of Luke’s second job being in Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes’s club. There is a little bit of a continuity error. Alfre Woodard plays a member of the State Department in “Captain America: Civil War”. Her son is the one that influenced Tony to agree to the Accords. Here, she’s a councilwoman. Regardless, the first scene that we see Luke and Cornell interact is tense and Alfre makes a joke about his dinner jacket being small, since he was filling in at the bar. We’re also introduced to Shades and talk of Diamondback. Cottonmouth has a picture of Notorious B.I.G. with a crown. As he walks closer into frame, the crown sits on his head as he beats someone for information. Luke also has flashbacks to prison and recognizes Shades as he washes dishes in Cornell’s club. We don’t get to see Luke beat anyone up until the very end of the episode, inside a Chinese restaurant. Seeing the guy’s wrist snap as he tried to punch Luke in the face. We also get a little line about Luke being up for hire, a reference to his Heroes for Hire business with Iron Fist and team in the comics.
This first episode delves into the culture and setting of Harlem. The diversity is wide, even though the cast and residents are predominantly African American. Pop’s barbershop has old school hip-hop playing, Cornell’s club has Jazz and R&B and the thugs and strip clubs play modern hip-hop. Music is a character itself in the show. When the mood of the dialogue changes, so does the music. Each location has its own unique sound. Cornell’s club has proper dress while just outside, you have dudes with baggie jeans and hoodies.
I really enjoyed the first episode. It was very much an introduction to this section of the MCU Netflix segment of shows. All the players are on the board and get an insight to their motivations. Will we see more of how Luke got his powers? I hope so. The flashbacks we’ve had are short, but concise. They let us know what we need to know when we need to know it. Stay tuned for my review of Episode two.