I don’t know how I missed the Luke Cage wave in 2016 when it first premiered on Netflix but better late to the party than never. Let’s jump in.
The most compelling aspect of any Marvel story, for me, has always been the villain. Marvel has good heroes but he they have some damn good villains.
MARIAH fucking STOKES: A different kind of crazy but oh, did I love every minute of it.
The whole Stokes family business seemed a dubious enterprise even when Cornell was running things. I went with it because there’s only a certain type of crazy – that both Cottonmouth and Mariah possess – that can make them believe the consequences of their outlandish behavior would not be ruin.
From the moment that Luke Cage appeared on the scene, Cornell Stokes was sweating bullets. I suspected that Cornell wouldn’t make it through the first season but I didn’t think it would be at the hands of Mariah. The best thing about Cornell was his laugh. He had the cackle of a seasoned super villain. He fought valiantly until the end but Cottonmouth had it coming. Respect, though.
In the case of Willis Striker, revealed in season one to be Luke’s brother, it’s just a lot of misdirected anger. That whole beef could’ve been squashed with a conversation and a hug instead of a Rocky V-style street brawl.
The Bushmaster a.k.a. John McIver makes an interesting villain for season two. He hails from Jamaica and has come to Harlem to reclaim his birthright – Harlem itself. It’s all over a foul deal between the McIvers and the Stokes that happened when little John was a pickney but he remembers well and spends all of season two trying to jog the Stokes’ memory.
But in the end, “(h)’im finally make it to the top of the mountain, but (h)’im cyan’t even enjoy da view.” He tried to gain the world and damn near lost his soul. I’d love to see Bushmaster return for a rematch in the next season. He was fun.
A word on the women: The women in this show are bad ass. Misty. Knight. Needs. Her. Own. Show. I want more bionic arm bar fights. That actress, Simone Missick, is easily one of the most dynamic in the cast, coming in second only to Alfre Woodard.
A lot of times in fiction, women function as the moral compass to the men in their lives and that’s definitely true with Luke Cage. With all these chipped shoulders and hurt feelings, this show and the men in it need the women characters to ground them in some kind of reality. Claire Temple and Misty Knight are dynamic elements of the show. They bring some much needed realness to what would otherwise be a Marvel-ous (pun intended) display of toxic masculinity and chest-beating.
I can suspend my disbelief just enough to tolerate the way that the second season ended. And that’s all I have to say about that.