Friday, May 19, 2017

Before The Defenders: The Worst Parts Of Netflix’s Marvel Series

From the article "Before The Defenders: 15 Worst Parts Of Netflix’s Four Marvel Series" by Michael Natale
April 13, 2017

Below are the LUKE CAGE related excerpts. You can read the entire piece at the link above.

Suffice it to say the info below contain SPOILERS from the Marvel shows so...


When Ben Urich, the wise older black man who served the community through his journalism while proving a mentor to “Daredevil’s” main cast was killed, it was absolutely heartbreaking. When Detective Oscar Clemons, the wise older black man who served the community on the force while proving a mentor to Jessica Jones was killed, it was sad but oddly repetitive. When Pops, the wise older black man who served the community through his barbershop while proving a mentor to Luke Cage was killed, a handful of folks likely took a step back and said “Wait, now hold up a minute…”

Look, if Obi-Wan taught us anything, killing the wise old mentor can be a powerful narrative tool, but repeat the trope too many times and you’ve not only got yourself diminishing returns, but also a real weird trend in your programs. Killing these characters, particularly Ben Urich who is an integral part of Marvel’s comic book microcosm, shuts down a lot of narrative opportunities going forward.


We love the jaded, broken, noir-ish Luke Cage from “Jessica Jones,” who’d rather polish a bar or pick up a broad than punish a bad guy, who spends every waking hour trying hard to suppress the memory of his dead wife; for whom the equally damaged Jessica Jones provides a lifeline and an answer. We also love the upbeat, friendly force for good hiding out in a barbershop, helping his community, looking after the youth, quick with a joke and a smile and always ready to kick a little ass if it means cleaning up the mean streets of Harlem. The Luke Cage whose heart is captured not only by the badass Misty Knight, but also by the nurturing Claire Temple.

The problem is it’s near-impossible to wrap your head around both being the same man. The disparity is so vast that one can’t help but see Luke Cage as a prequel, easier to see this as Luke’s life before the breaking point than believe he somehow magically healed from the broken, brooding man he was throughout “Jessica Jones.”


Our previous installment declared Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth to be the #6 best part of the entire MCU/Netflix undertaking, so you can imagine how heartbreaking it was to see such a charismatic character killed off. Yet often, ending such an engaging antagonist can often propel the plot forward, provide much needed catharsis or fundamentally affect our main hero, as we’ve seen with characters like Kilgrave.
However, looking back, Cottonmouth’s untimely end seems superfluous and downright silly, and it’s hard to see why the team thought taking him out would benefit the show as a whole.

Sure, the initial shock of Cottonmouth’s sudden death created an “anything can happen” sentiment towards the show, akin to Ned Stark’s dramatic end in “Game of Thrones'” game changing first season. Yet, looking back, the building territorial conflict between the cool, kingly Cottonmouth, the overly ambitious Shades and the flamboyantly fierce Diamondback would have made for far more intriguing TV than Diamondback’s unencumbered and abrupt takeover, playing out like “The Wire” or “A Fistful of Dollars,” with Luke Cage caught in the middle of two undesirable outcomes. Ultimately, what we lost out on in favor of a “shock” moment hardly feels worth it.


“Daredevil” Season 1 established a tone and structure, and the subsequent shows barely departed from that. That is, until “Luke Cage” took a big leap with bold choices regarding the series’ big bad, Diamondback. Those very attached to the established aesthetic derided Diamondback for being garish and over-the-top. However, fans of blaxploitation cinema teased by the obvious homages to the genre by the soundtrack were satiated by the grandness of Erik LaRay Harvey’s villain, who could spit Bible quotes alongside “The Warriors” references, who would fit perfectly in cult treasures like “Dolemite” and “Truck Turner.”

Ultimately, the division over Diamondback amongst fans represents a larger identity issue “Luke Cage” suffered from. It wasn’t that “Luke Cage” was doomed if it embraced the blaxploitation genre it owed its origins to, but rather that it did so too late. The show seemed unsure what it wanted to be, prestige drama or B-Movie, and decided to do both. The problem, it seems, is that in order to embrace the latter, it shed the weight of its previous socially conscious grounded melodrama, and trying to give the same narrative heft to such heightened proceedings proved too much, and the wheels came off towards the end.


Ranking the Solo Defenders Series

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