'Luke Cage' wins over critics, as it makes a push for superhero diversity

'Cage' stars Mike Colter as the superhero of the same name. It's Netflix's newest TV program about Marvel superheroes living in New York City, and more are planned.

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix
'Luke Cage' stars Mike Colter.

The newest Netflix superhero has arrived, as the Marvel TV series “Luke Cage” debuts on the streaming service this Friday. 

“Cage” follows “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” two previous programs about Marvel superheroes fighting crime in New York City. “Cage” itself will reportedly be followed by another show, “Iron Fist,” as well as a “Defenders” program bringing all these heroes together. 

“Cage” stars Mike Colter as Luke Cage, who has incredible strength and unbreakable skin, among other powers. Viewers may know him from the “Jessica” series, in which he played a large role. 

The “Luke Cage” series also stars Mahershala Ali, Simone Missick, and Alfre Woodard.

So far, critics seem mostly impressed with the show. Los Angeles Times writer Meredith Blake writes that “like ‘Jessica Jones,’ ‘Luke Cage’ is a show that puts the human in ‘superhuman’ … even those who are normally allergic to capes and spandex are likely to be intrigued, particularly by Colter’s simmering performance,” and praises the supporting cast as well.

Meanwhile, Variety writer Maureen Ryan wrote that the series is "worth the wait," with "a wildly charismatic performance" by Colter and "solid work" from the other actors. Those strengths help the series "through its rough spots, which include a somewhat clunky pilot and a notable tendency to sprawl," she says.

TVLine writer Matt Webb Mitovich wrote that "talkier moments … are perhaps the only significant weak spot," and "Colter brings a needed intensity." 

The series is also drawing praise for its discussion of race. Luke Cage is Marvel’s first protagonist in a recent film or TV project who is not white, as superheroes like Falcon, War Machine, and Black Panther have all appeared in supporting roles in Marvel movies but have so far not gotten films of their own. A Black Panther movie is scheduled for 2018.

“The significance of a black hero who dresses in a hoodie and whose skin is impenetrable to bullets should be lost on no one,” Ms. Blake wrote, while Ms. Ryan wrote that “it’s long past time that the powers that be in the superhero realm, in TV or film, gave an African-American character a starring role.”

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