TV shows based on comic books have changed drastically over the years, transforming from kitschy-costumed men fake fighting the villain of the week to educating the public on social issues with complex characters, creative storytelling and symbolic visuals. Marvel’s newest television series “Luke Cage” is a prime example, attacking relevant social and political problems pertaining specifically to the black community while at the same time introducing us to lovable and three-dimensional characters.
Being Marvel’s first black lead, “Luke Cage” was highly anticipated by both comic fans and the African-American community alike. The sheer amount of viewers tuning in to the Netflix original series premiere was even rumored to have caused technical difficulties within Netflix itself. “Luke Cage” has certainly made an entrance with its predominantly black and Latino cast, its powerful imagery and its memorable protagonist. The show features several aspects of Black-American culture from taking place directly in Harlem to the soundtrack featuring several hip hop artists such as Jidenna and Method Man. This focus on black culture certainly gives the show an overall cohesiveness, and it’s nice to see black culture being portrayed in a positive light. However, the series doesn’t mind getting elbow deep in controversy, addressing concepts like hypermasculinity, gang violence, peer pressure and the corruption of local government. “Luke Cage” tackles these topics head on and in graphic detail, not shying away or sugarcoating, and speaks directly to the black, urban community.
Luke Cage himself is one of the best parts of the show. He’s buff. He’s bulletproof. And he’s unapologetically black. Played by the chiseled, chocolate god Mike Colter, Luke Cage is not the typical fast-talking, quippy superhero. He’s a simple man with a checkered past who’s tired of seeing injustice in the community he grew up in and takes it upon himself to change things. Without trying to give too much away, certain events make Cage realize that laying low will solve nothing and change will only happen when those who’re brave enough to do something about it. The character has broken his blaxploitation, becoming a symbol. Cage is a symbol of those who’re brave enough to stand up when they see something wrong. He’s a symbol of standing your ground and protecting your community from the ill-intentioned.
The black community needs this message more than ever.
With more and more stories surfacing of black men, women and children dying at the hands of police brutality, a bulletproof black superhero is something that is needed as a symbol of hope. The inclusion to have him in a dark hoodie speaks volumes, reminding us of the death of Trayvon Martin. While this show is in no way aimed for children, Luke Cage is the hero that young black boys need. Luke Cage is the hero that young black boys have been waiting for.