Luke Cage Season 2 Early Reviews: An Improvement on Season 1

Early reviews indicate Luke Cage season 2 is a step up from season 1, despite the now-typical Marvel/Netflix TV show problems.

READ Screen Rant's Luke Cage Season 2 Review!


Early reviews indicate Luke Cage season 2 is an improvement on the first season, even with the now-typical Marvel/Netflix TV show problems. Luke Cage season 1 premiered in September 2016 and was praised by critics for its willingness to tackle political issues and examine the black American experience through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the same time, however, most reviewers felt the latter half of the first season was noticeably weaker than the episodes proceeding it.

Season 2 picks up in the aftermath of last year's The Defenders, as Luke (Mike Colter) returns to Harlem to continue fighting crime and cleaning up its streets. It's not long before he encounters a new threat in Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir), a stranger whose martial arts skills and bullet-proof skin make him a match for the Hero of Harlem. When Bushmaster targets his old enemy Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), Luke finds himself in an unexpected position - as he realizes that to save Harlem, he may have to protect and even join forces with the ex-politician.

Related: Mariah is Harlem's Queen in Final Luke Cage Season 2 Trailer

Also back for Luke Cage season 2 are Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple and Simone Missick as Misty Knight, now armed (literally) with a bionic appendage. Iron Fist's Danny Rand (Finn Jones) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) also make appearances this season, potentially setting the stage for future crossover series like Heroes for Hire and Daughters of the Dragon. To find out if these puzzle pieces fit together or not, read the following SPOILER-FREE Luke Cage season 2 review excerpts (and click on the links for the full reviews).

Kofi Outlaw - Comic Book

What really works for Luke Cage Season Two, however, is how showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and his team show no fear in really going deep into the territory of larger racial and social themes surrounding these characters... [Season Two] gets into what it is to be black -- not just in the current socio-political climate, though there is that, but in terms of a shared history of trauma, violence, and disrupted bloodlines, and what scars all of that leaves on the present. The juxtaposition of Jamaican and African-American point of view is especially interesting, and makes the Mariah/Bushmaster war a truly compelling gangster tale.

Jamie Broadnax - BGN

A sophomore season of a new show is a pendulum that could swing in either direction - you could either love it or hate it. In the case of season 2 of Luke Cage, I would weigh in on the former and say that this season was far better and stronger than season 1. The chef's finger kiss that made this season so incredible was how the story arc meanders and develops from one character to the next and builds a solid foundation that ties back to the personal ulterior motives developed back in season 1.

Merrill Barr - Forbes

[The] show’s blacksploitation roots are even more transparent this season. The color palette, the music, the pacing, it’s all very 70s, which comes with both pluses and minuses. In fact, this season even throws a little noir styling into the mix just to liven things up a bit. Overall, Luke Cage season two is a solid watch that suffers from the same problems as all the Marvel Netflix shows do. It’s too slow at times to fill out its episode count and doesn’t always utilize the super part of its superhero character to its fullest capabilities.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw - The Daily Dot

You’ll notice I’ve written a lot about character and themes, but not much about the plot. That’s because Luke Cage’s crime storytelling just isn’t very interesting. This is less of an issue if you only watch one or two Marvel/Netflix series, but if you’re a completist—in other words, a Marvel fan, a TV critic, or a Netflix addict—then you’ll find some elements repetitive... Even still, while Luke Cage thrives when telling stories about justice and morality, it isn’t especially good at being a cop show. This may be one of Marvel’s strongest seasons to date, but the Defenders franchise needs to shake off the formula and move onto something fresh.

Rick Marshall - Digital Trends

Much like its title character, Luke Cage proudly defies expectations — whether it’s the suggestion of a sophomore slump or questions surrounding its star’s ability to carry the show. There is a sense of established familiarity with the title characters of Daredevil and Jessica Jones at this point, but even after two seasons, Luke Cage still feels like a show chronicling its hero’s formative years and taking its audience along for the ride — bumps and all. With such an impressive second season, here’s hoping that ride is just getting started.

Allison Keene - Collider

There are plenty of things this season does well, really well, but there is so much filler and narrative dragging of feet in between that it’s hard to recommend it outright. Here’s the bottom line — if you’re still watching all of these Marvel / Netflix series and you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fan, then Luke Cage Season 2 will give you more of what you’re used to. If you didn’t like Luke Cage Season 1, I don’t think you’ll really care for Season 2, but overall it is a stronger story. So if you were ok with Season 1 but are hoping that Season 2 improves, you should feel pretty satisfied by it. Maybe that’s all we can ask for (that and a Misty Knight-focused detective series, of course).

On the whole, these reviews seem to agree Luke Cage season 2 is better crafted and more confident than season 1. At the same time, it sounds like the TV show still has the same pacing and plot structure issues that every season of every Marvel/Netflix series thus far has had (The Defenders included). Whether that's because the seasons are too long or simply not very well told is up for debate, but one thing is clear: Marvel TV's Netflix formula could use some fresh ingredients.

With Daredevil season 3 and Iron Fist season 2 set to premiere later this year, it will be interesting to see where the Marvel/Netflix corner of the MCU goes next. The reviews indicate Luke Cage season 2 paves the way for more stories to be told about the Hero of Harlem, but will those come in the form of Luke Cage season 3 or something else (see that Heroes for Hire crossover mentioned earlier)? Much like their counterparts on the big screen, there could be some big changes on the horizon for the MCU's street-level superheroes.

MORE: A Complete History of the MCU

Marvel's Luke Cage season 2 begins streaming through Netflix next Friday, June 22.

Source: Various [see the above links]

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