Powering into Ballroom 20, the panel for Luke Cage showed off tons of new footage, teasing both Marvel’s latest Netflix show — which premieres September 30 — as well as the fourth installment of the gradually assembling Defenders, Iron Fist. There to discuss their roles were stars Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Alfre Woodard (Mariah Dillard), Mahershala Ali (Cornell Stokes, a.k.a. Cottonmouth), Simone Missick (Misty Knight), Theo Rossi (Shades), and Frank Whaley (Rafael Scarfe). Rosario Dawson, who will be reprising her role of Claire Temple from Daredevil and Jessica Jones, couldn’t be there because (said moderator and head of Marvel TV Jeph Loeb) she is back east shooting “something else” for Marvel — presumably the aforementioned Iron Fist. But it was showrunner Cheo Coker who had the line of the night, explaining why the character of Luke Cage, first introduced in 1972, is more relevant than ever: “The world is ready for a bulletproof black man.”
- The first Luke Cage footage appeared in a sizzle reel featuring highlights from Daredevil and Jessica Jones, which illustrated the relationship between the three shows. The new images included a shot of a guy absolutely obliterating his fist on Luke’s untouched face, and Luke being riddled with bullets, walking forward into a stream of them, unfazed as his hoodie is torn to shreds. At the end of the reel, Jon Bernthal, who played The Punisher in Daredevil — and in the upcoming eponymous show — made a surprise appearance, threatening Loeb with some punishment of his own unless he replayed the reel. The reel was promptly replayed.
The second clip was a scene of Luke fighting a bunch of guys in a boxing gym, saying, “You haven’t heard of me, I guess” when they harmlessly unload their guns on him. After another round he quips, “I’m almost sick of always having to buy new clothes.” After dispatching all but one of the guys, he corners the remaining goon in an office. “Where are the guns?” he asks. “The ones you got from Cottonmouth, the ones my friends died for?” When the man, quivering, finally gives up the information, Luke walks out, grabbing one of the gym’s branded hoodies on the way. He pauses to ask the guy he just terrified into submission, “Do you have this in an XXL?”
- In the third clip, Stokes is furiously bashing up his own nightclub with a baseball bat as he argues with Mariah. Mariah counters that whatever he’s suffered, she’s had it worse because her reputation has been harmed. Their fight is forced to a close as Scarfe shows up.
- Loeb teased that Misty is undercover when she’s introduced on the show. Said Missick, “Misty ain’t in her work clothes when you first meet her.” This segued into the next clip, which began with Misty, in a purple sequined dress, meeting Luke for the first time on a street corner. Luke asks if she was trying to see Stokes, explaining that he just left. Misty is coy and neither confirms nor denies the connection, but asks Luke to coffee. He says he doesn’t like coffee. “Neither do I,” says Misty, and then the scene cuts to them bursting through what appears to be Luke’s apartment door, kissing, as Luke strips off his shirt — at which point the footage ended, making it perhaps the truest example of a tease.
- Stokes features again in the final Luke Cage clip, standing in front of the iconic picture of Biggie Smalls wearing a crown. As Stokes strides forward, the shot is framed so that the crown appears to be perched on his head. “Everybody wants to be the king,” he says, then proceeds to slap a man tied to a chair. “I just hit you like a bitch,” he says, explaining that he never hits women close-fisted. (What a gent!) He makes his prisoner tell him where to find some missing money, then says, “Now I’m going to beat you like a man.”
After accidentally starting early, ruining some of the surprise, a clip featuring Finn Jones (Danny Rand) introduced the first footage from Iron Fist. It featured young Danny on a plane as it crashes, sitting next to a woman, who is presumably his mother, gazing at him sadly. Danny is next seen in his ripped-out airplane seat, lying in the snow, where he is discovered by monks. Next the adult Danny, barefoot and appearing homeless, is seen wandering through New York. There is also a shot of him struggling with restraints as he is strapped to a bed in some sort of mental hospital.
- The panel concluded with an even more mysterious teaser for The Defenders, set to a cool cover of Nirvana’s “Come as You Are.”
Other highlights of the panel included:
- Asked what had changed for Luke since Jessica Jones, Colter was, well…cagey. “Luke has his own problems,” he said. He was “hiding his own things in the closet on Jessica Jones,” but now they’re coming to the fore.
- Coker called the addition of Luke Cage “the Wu-Tangification of the Marvel Universe,” saying the show has attitude and flavor, but also elegance. He compared the modern phenomenon of binge-watching to listening to a record album the way you used to, straight through, so that the pace has a rhythm to it. “It’s relentless,” he said.
- Woodard, who called the first script she saw “one of the smartest pieces of writing that I have ever come across,” praised the world of the show for being so realistically drawn. “Harlem deserves a number on the call sheet — it is very much a character,” she said.
Missick enthused about Misty’s role in the show. “She’s a woman who’s her own person: not the wife, not the girlfriend, not the sidekick — totally her own thing.” Fans of the character, she said, will get “everything you want with her and more.”
- Missick later interrupted the panel to get the whole audience to serenade Whaley, her on-screen cop partner, with “Happy Birthday,” as today was the big day.
- Pausing to don his borrowed sunglasses before answering, Rossi explained how he prepared for a role that involved acting essentially without his eyes. “My research was…Daredevil,” he said with a laugh. Rossi said he ultimately liked Shades’ shades. “Glasses just make him way more…shady,” he said, earning laughter and groans. He described Shades as “the ultimate opportunist.” Said Coker, “He’s kind of the Littlefinger of Luke Cage.”
- Finally, Loeb and long-time Marvel editor Joe Quesada announced that Netflix has renewed Daredevil for Season 3!