SWEET CHRISTMAS! Collider continues to look into the characters which make up Marvel’s upcoming Netflix television deal with Luke Cage. A superhero who dubs himself a “Hero for Hire,” Luke mostly sticks with problems localized in his own neighborhood when he is first starting the hero game. Of the four characters getting their own series through Netflix (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke), Cage is the most down to earth. Hit the jump for an in-depth look into who Luke Cage is and why he makes for a great protagonist for his upcoming show on Netflix.
Who is Luke Cage?
Originally created by writer Archie Goodwin and artists George Tuska and John Romita, Sr., Luke Cage was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. In order to be placed on parole, Cage was forced to undergo an experiment which gave him bulletproof skin and superhuman strength. Instead of going the route of many other super heroes at the time and instantly joining a big superhero group, such as The Avengers, Cage stuck with his neighborhood and worked as a “Hero for Hire” with his best buddy, Danny Rand (Iron Fist, who we’ll get to next week). It’s in these roots that the Netflix show will be best able to take route, from the perspective of a hero who not only fights crime, but rallies behind his neighborhood and works as somewhat of an activist who just so happens to be able to lift trucks over his head.
We’ve seen characters like Iron Man soar through the air, the Hulk brawl through cityscapes, and Captain America fight the nefarious forces of Hydra, but Luke Cage will be able to show us a side of the Marvel Universe that we haven’t seen before. While Jessica Jones represents a similar face of the Marvel U as Cage (Surprise! The two eventually tie the knot.), Luke will be able to show off the same approach to crime fighting from more of a welcoming perspective. Whereas Jessica is alone and has to work on her cases with little to no assistance, Cage is part of a community that he tries desperately to clean up whenever he can. So what’s the best way to portray Luke Cage? How about from the idea of The Wire with Luke Cage as the central protagonist, with the episodes also following the civilians, police, criminals, and maybe even S.H.I.E.L.D. as Luke tries his best to clean up the mean streets of NYC.
Well, to start, let’s get Luke Cage’s rogues gallery out of the way. There’s….well….there’s….Chemistro? Uhm…there’s…Discus and Stileto. Okay look, Luke Cage doesn’t have much of a rogues gallery to speak of. Over the years, as he’s grown to join superhero teams such as the Avengers and the Thunderbolts (a group of super villains attempting to reform that Cage led), he’s become somewhat of a catch all when it came to fighting supervillains. By catch all, I mean that Luke fights the villains of every other character and hasn’t really had the opportunity to have a gallery of ne’er do wells specifically targeting him (outside of, say, the Purple Man who is directly tied with Jessica Jones.) THIS is where the television show will need to step up and create some great villains for Cage to fight. They don’t all necessarily need to be super-powered villains – in fact, I’d like to see as few of these as possible to really hammer home the idea that Cage is unique within the boundaries of his community. Have Cage fight some despicable drug lords and attempt to fix problems endemic in the streets. How does a man who can bend steel in his hands attempt to use those abilities in eliminating poverty? How does the fact that bullets bounce off his skin stop the potential corruption to be found in a police station?
As for supporting cast, Luke Cage is heavily tied to the other four characters who are appearing in the upcoming Marvel Studios/Netflix shows. Jessica Jones is his future wife and mother of his child, Iron Fist/Danny Rand is his best friend and would go on adventures with him as part of the “Heroes for Hire,” and Luke would often be hired by Matt Murdock to act as his bodyguard to help conceal his identity as Daredevil. This is not to say that he’s bound to only these characters. Again, giving Luke a supporting cast that really ties him to the people he’s fighting for is a great opportunity. Unlike Spiderman and Daredevil who conceal their identities, Luke is out in the open and lets everyone know who he is and what he plans to do. It could add drama in terms of relating to people and finding his place in the world.
Part of the Marvel Universe
Luke Cage has had quite the interesting road during his tenure as a Marvel character. He started out as the protagonist in his own book, quickly moving into sharing it with his best friend, Iron Fist. Several canceled series later, he was brought back by writer Brian Michael Bendis to be a part of his “New Avengers,” a team of Avengers that took stalwarts like Captain America and Iron Man, and added newcomers like Spiderman, Wolverine, and of course, Luke Cage to the roster. Cage goes from being a C-lister at best to running his own team of Avengers and being looked up to by most of the superhero community, while also juggling life as a husband and a father. Of nearly all the Marvel characters, Luke Cage develops the most and cements himself as an A-lister within the universe.
In relation to the Netflix show, the creative teams behind it should look to change Luke over time. He will go from street level to joining the earth’s mightiest heroes, and that evolution will be one of the most interesting things to see. I don’t know if we’ll ever see Cage on the silver screen with the rest of the Avengers, but who knows? At its core, perhaps on par with that of Spiderman, Luke Cage is the story of an everyman who the audience can relate to and see the world through his eyes.
I just really wanted to include this picture.