The thirteen episode Netflix original series “Luke Cage” premiered on Friday, a television show based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This series occurs in the same narrative canon as the blockbuster movies “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Avengers.”
In my preview article at the end of last week I talked about the expectation that “Luke Cage” will follow suit beside the earlier Netflix series of “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” productions that focus on smaller arcs of individuals who have come into superhuman abilities, but look to stay away from the spotlight. “Luke Cage” has met that expectation.
With the first episode the series stands to take place in Harlem, where crooked club owners and paid-for politicians live in the high-end clubs. The working man character Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter, is working two jobs and fielding harassment from his landlady.
The urban-noir cinematography continues to be utilized with immense success, adding to viewing pleasure, as these shows continue to maintain a focus on the darker side of the superhero trope, highlighting the hardships that the characters face. It’s apparent that Cage contends with the fallout from his actions in “Jessica Jones.” He is also dealing with the death of his wife Reeva, an event that predates the narrative of both this show and “Jessica Jones.” With an entire series focused on the character, I expect that audiences will get to see how Reeva’s death has influenced Cage’s convictions as he avoids attracting too much attention in spite of living in a world where his ability could really change the lives of those who need it most.
The first episode alone carries with it several Easter eggs tying back the greater MCU, that will make anyone excited about the long and intricate story that threads the television shows and the movies of the MCU together, while maintaining the individual cinematic purviews of each. One such Easter egg is a plate upon a crate of military grade weapons being dealt by criminal underworld types that reads “Hammer Industries,” a throwback to the “Iron Man 2” villain benefactor Justin Hammer, once again showing the intersectionality of the movie and the television show narratives.
What could such a reference mean for the rest of the series? The exciting part of these movies and shows is that they all exist in the same world, a world that has been growing for eight years now, having maintained continuity in every iteration. This stratagem of story is usually reserved for big-screen trilogies like “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit,” yet with the advent of these shows and the continued production of these movies, the universe continues to grow and influence itself and its characters in ways that are more critical than what a three-movie trilogy can do.