Overall I still enjoyed Luke Cage Season 2 but certain elements make it one of the weakest Mar-flix series to date. Here’s why I think this.
Also a big warning; there are major, major spoilers ahead so don’t read on unless you don’t care or have watched it ALL!
Luke Cage Season 2 builds on what the first series established, whilst introducing some new villains – Maria Dillard (Or Stokes which is repeated 1000 times) is still in charge of Harlem’s criminal scene and is obediently followed around by Shades; their story revolves around them balancing a life of crime with a public service and a really odd relationship… Here’s where my first issue comes in – Alfred Woodard who plays Maria is just terrible in this role. As soon as she became the main villain in Season 1, I was unhappy, and one of my favourite moments in Season 2 was her dying, not because I hated the character, but because I hated her portrayal of it. I don’t know whether she was trying to act drunk or what, but I actually found myself skipping scenes. Next is her relationship with Hernan, better known as Shades, although it unravels because she goes too far the whole thing and just isn’t very believable, maybe because of my hatred for Maria.
Next up we have the introduction of Bushmaster, he’s a Jamaican dude who has beef with Maria and similar powers to Luke (Although through very different methods); thing is this dude is fantastic but so underused, and when they finally properly do his story – which is maybe one of my favourite episodes – it’s 3 episodes from the end, by which time a lot of viewers could have given up. They should have shown more of his backstory at the beginning of the show whilst cutting back some of Maria’s shite, and forced him into the main antagonist role. Unfortunately he plays second fiddle to the other storylines running throughout, but fortunately survives at the end, so let us hope he’ll be back for more if this adaptation ever gets revived.
Misty Knight is very similar to the first series, struggling with her role in the police force and getting the job done, however she only has 1 arm (Due to events in the awful Defenders) so is struggling with this also; luckily Rand Industries provides her with a robotic arm. All well and good, but my issue is they spend FUCK ALL budget on this arm. Obviously TV shows have less budget than movies, but they didn’t even seem to try to make a good glove for her arm; it just looked like a long glove with bits of plastic on (God forbid they have some CGI) – This made it extremely difficult to buy into the one arm thing…
Speaking of Rand, Danny has a 1 episode cameo, and it’s actually really good. Issue is he just kind of leaves after that because this is Cage’s fight. They REALLY needed to keep him in for longer or just create a heroes for hire series, Danny has a new attitude (Clearly due to all the character criticisms from Season 1 of Iron Fist), and it works really well with Luke. It also makes the fight scenes much more exciting and provided my favourite action of the series… This needs to happen more, but had me excited for Iron Fist Season 2.
At the very end Luke ends up owning Harlem’s paradise, and seems to have a ‘if I intimidate all the crime families, I can control crime’ attitude. This is great and sets up for an interesting Series 3 if it were to ever happen… However there was so little explanation in the last episode that instead of a cliffhanger, I was just very confused and just needed a little more background on this before happily carrying on. That was before it was cancelled…
I’ve slated the series here, but there was also a lot I like. Luke Cage isn’t an awful character and carries much of the series on his shoulders because the side characters can’t (The main image for the series is very apt), and there are some very good moments, but I would save yourself some time and just watch the second half of the series; just read a blurb for the first 6 eps. There’s just so much filler and wishy-washy scenes and characters that it’s almost a struggle to get through.
My issue with Luke Cage and Mar-flix as a whole is they keep it too low-level in terms of story and characters, it would be fine if it was gripping TV, but it just isn’t. For example there’s not enough big easter eggs as villains and throwaways to Marvel comics as a whole; they could easily throw in some low-level super enemies for Luke to tussle with instead of concentrating on just endless gang stories (Such as the wrecking crew). It all depends too much on street level stuff that isn’t overly exciting. I don’t know if that’s a budget or a rights issue?
I personally will carry on supporting these kinds of series even despite the Netflix cancellations, but I can see why so many of my friends – and most importantly Netflix – don’t bother anymore.