‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 Taps into Black Consciousness [REVIEW]

‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 Taps into Black Consciousness [REVIEW]

Season Two of Luke Cage goes deeper and darker into the nuances and complexities of Black life. The superhero tropes of the Marvel Universe are supplemental to the cultural and social themes of being Black in America. One of many first scenes opens with Cage listening to Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones, Pt. II,” and is a delicate indication of the heaviness to return. The tune is a mirror into the season as a result of it was an anthem of the ’90s, an period in New York Metropolis the place inner-city youth fought for monetary freedom whereas battling regional warfare and the shift of the construction of family after the crack epidemic. A historical past many are nonetheless making an attempt to rewrite.

The present rapidly picks up with Cage (Mike Colter) being the well-known Harlem vigilante. He’s acquired a sure degree of movie star and is in a budding relationship with Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). Every thing appears brilliant, however he’s quickly confronted with the results of the neighborhood’s previous. John McIver, (Mustafa Shakir) the Jamaican badmon referred to as “Bushmaster,” involves do proper by his household and reclaim their empire from Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard).

All out warfare begins, and it turns into an excessive amount of for the hero to sort out as a result of he’s nonetheless engaged on the strained relationship together with his father and the introspection of what it means to be a superhero, whereas his antagonists are preventing not just for territory however the American Dream. The attainment of wealth is seen as an escape from social oppression for the African-American, Jamaican, Hispanic, Chinese language and Italian gangs. Because of this, the present captures the range of New York Metropolis tradition.

That isn’t the one factor Luke Cage will get proper. Listed below are different themes the season does properly:

“The genius of Wu-Tang is that they know that half the viewers has by no means been to the tasks, and has no concept what they’re speaking about. They’re simply making a world and that’s what we’re making an attempt to do.” – Cheo Hodari Coker

Season One established hip-hop throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each episode of Season Two is called after a Pete Rock & CL Clean tune, simply as the primary season’s songs are titled after Gang Starr music. Black music from throughout the diaspora is explored and reggae turns into a central theme with the introduction of Bushmaster.

The music units the tempo of the story as a substitute of merely being background for a scene. There are references made within the script to artists together with Prodigy, Technique Man and State Property. The season additionally options performances by Gary Clark Jr., Religion Evans, Ghostface Killah, Stephen Marley, Esperanza Spalding, Jadakiss, KRS-One and Rakim, who wrote an unique piece for the season finale.

“For higher or worse, I’m Harlem’s hero.” – Luke Cage

Cage’s heroism is symbolized by the bullet-riddled hoodie, which represents Trayvon Martin and the Black Lives Matter motion. An indestructible Black man turns into the face of resistance, and the season delves deeper into what it means to be a Black hero. Not like the opposite superhero sequence on Netflix, reminiscent of Iron Fist, Jessica Jones or Daredevil, Cage’s heroism is intertwined with the struggles of his race. He has to take care of social media, fame, gentrification and how you can make cash whereas sacrificing for the better good of Harlem. The latter is commonly a dialogue throughout the Black group on the subject of Black activists and the ethics of receiving cash or sponsorship.

There’s energy in the way in which the comedian hero grapples with discovering a stability between private survival, race and heroism on this season.

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“Lots of people needed to die to make this household what it’s.” – Mariah Dillard

A number of mainstream exhibits current the floor of a model of Black life. If an African-American particular person is seen nearly as good or unhealthy, she or he is portrayed as coming from an excellent household or damaged house, respectively. This season throws that stereotype on its head as nearly each Black character comes from a household that skilled trauma, which is used to rationalize decisionmaking. Cage’s should be a hero is rooted in his should be seen by his father, Pastor James Lucas (Reg E. Cathey). The entire members of the Stokes and McIver households try to uphold or run from their household identify. Every essential character offers a monologue about household that’s rooted within the results of slavery or imperialism on the perform of the Black household.

“Harlem doesn’t want a hero; it wants a queen.” – Mariah Dillard

Whereas the present focuses on a Black man as a hero, this season does a improbable job solidifying girls because the silent heroes of society. Claire and Tilda  (Gabrielle Dennis) are health-care professionals who, at completely different moments, preserve the boys of the sequence alive. Misty (Simone Missick) fights for justice whereas studying to dwell with one arm. Dillard grapples with motherhood, the trauma of sexual abuse, and is a direct counter to the indignant Black lady trope—she’s “received so much to be mad about.” Regardless of their struggles, the season is a testomony to girls being the actual backbones of a patriarchal society. With out them, males would lack the conscience that pushes them into motion. Even Bushmaster’s mom, who isn’t a bodily character, is an integral a part of his plight.

Season Two is a satisfying watch however could be too gradual at occasions with a substantial amount of filler materials making up its 13 hourlong episodes, which is an issue with most of Netflix’s Marvel sequence. In case you, like me, are of Jamaican ancestry, the accents can come off as unauthentic. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of the sequence, it is a strong follow-up to Season One, with good appearing and extra Blaxploitation.

Luke Cage premieres on Netflix June 22.

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