Spoilers ahead: As is becoming something of a habit with Netflix releases, I couldn't help but watch the entirety of Luke Cage within just a couple of days — and, by the end of my marathon, I found myself thinking that Luke Cage is the best of Marvel's Superheroes. Now, don't get me wrong. I absolutely adore Jessica Jones, and I'd say that the first season of that show was actually on a par with Cage's. In addition, I have also fairly enjoyed most offerings from the Marvel cinematic universe. But Luke Cage, as a show and as a character, delivered something fresh and new to the universe that feels timely and vital.
After all, there's a certain feeling of uniformity to much of the Marvel Universe in the type of superheroes we see, the sort of stories that are told, and also the way that they're told. It felt clear to me that Luke Cage was an effort to break this uniformity on various levels. Those efforts weren't just successful, but they also felt poignant and important. As a character, Cage isn't just strong and forthright; he's also something of an everyman and a charmer. And I absolutely, completely adore him. Here's why.
1. His Story Is Significant And Empowering
The power of Cage's story doesn't just come from his superhuman powers being used for the good of mankind, but from the significance of those (more or less) infallible powers within contemporary culture. As a character, Cage is a significantly empowering figure, and his story is loaded with important subtext that celebrates crucial African-American history and culture.
2. His Action Comes With The Greatest Soundtracks
With the exception of the blown-out musical fun of Guardian's Of The Galaxy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become quite notorious for its nuanced, almost invisible, soundtracks. So for Luke Cage to not only provide a beyond incredible soundtrack, but to give it center-stage (literally) in some scenes and use it as a further important celebration of black culture is spectacular to witness.
3. He Doesn't Take Himself Too Seriously
Sure, when it comes to the cinematic portrayals of the Marvel universe, we have a ton of sharp-witted, quick-quipping characters like Iron Man, Ant Man, or Deadpool to pick from. But, so far, the Netflix portrayals of Marvel characters has been on the serious, sombre side. Which totally works, don't get me wrong. But after the intense emotions of Jessica Jones and the sheer levels of angst in Daredevil, Luke Cage was a much needed ray of sunshine by comparison.
4. His Pick-Up Lines Are Proudly Corny
Look, nobody likes to be on the receiving end of a truly terrible pick-up line, but I can totally make an exception for Mr Cage. He doesn't drink coffee, but, by jove, he'll ask if you want to go and drink some with him. And that's exactly my kind of proposition right there.
5. He's Pop Culturally Savvy
Don't mind me, I'm still completely recovering from Method Man's guest appearance in the show, and the adorable transaction between him having a fanboy moment over Cage, and Cage having a fanboy moment over him. Can Marvel's films and shows please deliver some more wonderful pop cultural moments for me to coo over? Because I absolutely loved it.
6. He's Well Read
If you're as big a book lover as I am then you were no doubt also forming instant heart-eyes over Cage's endless supply of top notch reading material. Not only do I adore people who read, but a superhero who spends his downtime buried in books? Sign me up.
7. He Has The Most Amount Of Heart
Though I adore many of the superheroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a lot of them can be a little cold (probably because their lifestyles demand it). But Cage? He's always got time to show some love to the people he cares about, and that makes me feel all warm and crumbly inside.
8. Speaking Of Heart, I Have A Lot Of Room In Mine For Mike Colter
Let's just say that both Jessica Jones and Claire Temple have terrific taste in men and were both very lucky ladies. Sweet Christmas, indeed.
9. His Strength Gives Him The Most Creative Fight Sequences
Ahem, trapping a bad guy inside a car door that he effortlessly torn off a car by actually bending the damn thing around him like it's made out of craft putty? Well, damn, Cage. Color me impressed.
10. His Playground Feels More Real Than Hell's Kitchen
At times in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Hell's Kitchen has felt a little caricature of a rough area. And that's cool; these are comic book shows we're watching after all. But Luke Cage's version of Harlem felt altogether more sincere and authentic.
11. He Doesn't Make A Big Deal Out Of Doing The Right Thing
I get it, all Marvel superheroes have their own style. But while some members of The Avengers bask in their saving the world prowess like rock stars, and Jessica Jones simply kicks back with a bottle of whiskey and a scowl, Cage is just so damn chill. Like, when he goes to jail in the finale of the season (even though he's innocent), it's totally no biggie for him — it's something which sadly has to happen and he gets on with it. He's just such a good man, you guys.
12. He's The Ultimate Superhero For Our Time
The poignant and timely allegories to be found in Luke Cage, in terms of current events and political climates, are surely lost on no one. This isn't just exactly the story that America needs right now, but Cage is also the hero that we need as well.
13. He Has The Only Catchphrase You Need To Know
Sweet Christmas is probably the most adorable and quaint superhero catchphrase ever.
14. Well, Apart From This One Too...
"Never backward, always forward..." as a passed down phrase from Pops to the children (and adults) he mentored in Harlem, only really comes to proper prominence towards the end of the series. But it's an important one. Not only does the phrase really define a lot of the themes of the show, but it's also an incredibly poignant message of progression that gets further positively adapted in the final scene of Luke Cage.
At the end of the day, it's not a competition. But I still think that if it was, Cage would still be miles ahead of the rest of the Marvel superheroes.