There’s no doubt about the fact that we’ve hit a point of superhero over-saturation — we culture/entertainment bloggers type the words “superhero” so often these days it’s a wonder we don’t just start copy/pasting old posts the ways studios seem to with old narratives. But every so often, a superhero film/series comes along that looks to transcend the repetition of genre tropes and special effects bombardments: Ryan Coogler’s upcoming Black Panther — whose cast and, of course, director, cannot be beat — seems like it’ll be one of those. Dark Knight was, undoubtedly, one of those. Beyond some questionable casting, with its dizzying reality bending, Dr. Strange looks like it could be one. Two extant Marvel/Netflix collaborations, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, also qualify. And finally, with the just-released first full trailer for Marvel’s Luke Cage, the series looks worthy even of the interest of the totally superhero-averse.
The origin story sees Cage having been experimented on by a researcher while he’s in prison, his super-strength and bulletproof skin accidentally bestowed upon him when a guard with a vendetta tries to sabotage the experiment. Per the official description, following that, he “becomes a fugitive attempting to rebuild his life in Harlem and must soon confront his past and fight a battle for the heart of his city.” In the trailer, we get glimpses of his life in Harlem following his sudden jolt of super-strength; we also get glimpses of key players including Alfre Woodard, who’s playing Mariah Dillard (an enemy of Cage’s in the comics, who here plays a municipal role and seems to be a more grey area character), House of Cards’ Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (shown in the trailer incidentally taking the crown from a Biggie Smalls portrait) — the series’ main “bad guy” — and Rosario Dawson, who’s back as Claire Temple. (Jessica Jones co-star Mike Colter is of course likewise starring here, in the title role).
Particularly with Dillard being involved in local politics, Luke Cage looks intriguingly interested in municipal corruption — and in exploring New York’s racialized topography and Harlem’s cultural significance — as it is in pure “heroes,” “villains,” and action sequences. But it also looks like there’s plenty of that.
Watch the trailer: