‘MARVEL’S LUKE CAGE’ RETURNS FOR SEASON 2

Luke Cage might be bulletproof, but the character’s eponymous Netflix series looks weaker in Season 2 — not bad, overall, but still experiencing the equivalent of a sophomore slump.

‘Marvel’s Luke Cage’ looks more vulnerable in Season 2

21 JUN 18 10:11 ET

    (CNN) — Luke Cage might be bulletproof, but the character’s eponymous Netflix series looks weaker in Season 2 — not bad, overall, but still experiencing the equivalent of a sophomore slump.

Mike Colter remains the epitome of cool as Harlem’s hero, rendered invulnerable as the byproduct of a prison experiment. In his latest 13-episode story, he must grapple with a multitude of villains, including the ruthless Mariah (a part Alfre Woodard sinks her teeth into and chews on), her accomplice Shades (Theo Rossi), and a new player known as Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir), a bad guy plucked from the comics who’s almost as indestructible as Luke.

For all that, the season does a whole lot of meandering, yielding long stretches that are not just talky but almost flabby, focusing too much on the jockeying for position and shifting alliances among the bad guys, who aren’t consistently interesting enough to warrant all that attention.

As for Luke, his personal issues include his relationship with Claire (Rosario Dawson), who understandably worries about him constantly being in harm’s way. “Nothing can hurt me,” he assures her early on, a bit of cockiness that of course will be challenged.

Still, where the first season of “Luke Cage” was among the best of Marvel’s efforts on behalf of Netflix — and a breakthrough for African-American superheroes before “Black Panther” rocked the box office — this latest go-round lands more in the middle of the pack. And while Luke still tosses around thugs with ease, the most memorable parts come from smaller moments, among them the final performance by the late Reg E. Cathey — one of the cast’s “The Wire” alums — as Luke’s minister father.

Colter brings a hugely charismatic presence to the role, along with a dose of comedy as he appraises the absurdity of his status as a very public hero for hire, which includes being paid to attend a corporate party, having become desperate for cash after being sued.

It’s the kind of down-to-earth threat that Marvel has historically excelled at weaving into storylines in the comics, and the series format allows the producers to build out the show’s atmosphere, from its liberal use of music to inevitable cross-over touches with other fare in the Marvel-Netflix portfolio. But it’s also indicative of the minutia in which “Luke Cage” indulges in filling (and at times padding) out its order.

“The world’s a more complicated place,” Bushmaster tells Luke, in one of their face-to-face encounters before the punches start flying.

“Luke Cage” still has its share of worthwhile elements, and as producer Cheo Hodari Coker has said, the time was right for a “bulletproof black man.” Yet as Netflix’s trademark binges go, season two winds up being more complicated and impenetrable — and thus less engaging — than fans of its impressive debut might have hoped.

“Luke Cage” returns June 22 on Netflix.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Nash Notes

Dwight Yoakam Announces 9-Date Las Vegas Residency

Dwight Yoakam Announces 9-Date Las Vegas Residency

Dwight Yoakam will bring his distinctive croon and swiveling hips to the Wynn’s Encore Theater in Las Vegas for nine dates this winter. The nine-date residency, billed as An Evening with Dwight Yoakam & the Bakersfield Beat, is scheduled to take place on Dec. 4, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 14, as well as March…

Michael Ray to Headline “CMT on Tour” With Jimmie Allen & Walker County

Michael Ray to Headline “CMT on Tour” With Jimmie Allen & Walker County

Michael Ray will headline the 19th annual CMT on Tour. The tour will kick off on Oct. 17 in Greensboro, N.C., making additional stops in Birmingham, Fort Wayne, New York and more. Jimmie Allen and Walker County will provide support. Tickets go on sale on Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. CT. “I’m so honored to…

Grand Ole Opry to Feature New Dolly Parton Exhibit

Grand Ole Opry to Feature New Dolly Parton Exhibit

Dolly Parton is celebrating her golden anniversary—that’s 50 years—as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2019. In honor of the anniversary, the Opry is hosting a new exhibit, Dolly: My Opry Memories, which features 24 wardrobe pieces Dolly has worn on the Opry stage over the last 50 years. Garments featured in the…

Playlist

Headlines