Diversity expansion in television is once again headed by Netflix, following the breakout success of Jessica Jones.
Netflix audiences were treated to their first look at Mike Colter’s Luke Cage in Jessica Jones, the spectacular smash hit series starring Krysten Ritter as the eponymous heroine. In Jones, Luke was the on-again-off-again love interest for Jessica, noted for his heroism, good looks, and bulletproof skin (though his skills in the bedroom are worthy of mention as well). While the future of Luke and Jessica’s romance was left up in the air, it was certain we hadn’t seen the last of the tough-but-tender bartender who stole our hearts. Now the character is ready for a breakout of his very own.
The debut of a standalone Luke Cage series is something more special than your average television premiere. While another superhero show isn’t anything new – Luke Cage marks the fifth Marvel property to hit television since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – it is the first time an African-American character will lead the cast.
It’s clear that Netflix has been making an effort to diversify its projects and the folks who run them. Coupled with creator Cheo H. Coker (writer, Notorious and Southland), Luke Cage marks the first time a Marvel property with a black male lead will also be helmed by a black show runner. Not to mention the fact that Luke Cage presents viewers with a predominately black cast telling stories about black characters.
Luke Cage first appeared in his own comic book series, Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, in 1972. Later redubbed “Power Man,” the character was clearly a calculated response to the popularity of the “blaxsploitation” and “street warrior” films of the early 1970’s. Sad to say, but the earliest version of Cage is little more than jive-speaking caricature, one that has thankfully evolved into a fleshed out, contemplative hero worthy of the screen. Indeed, one that is worthy of a growing fan base of every color.
In a Marvel Cinematic Universe overwhelmed with tales of white male protagonists, Luke Cage is a refreshing glimpse at traditionally underrepresented characters. This includes bringing Misty Knight, Diamondback, Shades Alvarez, and a few other comic book fan favorites to sudden prominence. As a direct effect of Luke Cage’s inclusiveness, readers who have often felt marginalized by the industry’s past refusal to focus on characters of color will finally get the chance to see their favorites come to life. If that’s not television magic, what is?
It’s clear that Luke Cage will be tied heavily into the stories of the already-existing Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but will also ramp up to the Defenders tie-in series, meant to combine the forces of all of Netflix’s existing Marvel properties, including the Punisher and Iron Fist.
While the plot details of the Luke Cage standalone series remains hazy, much is revealed in a recently-released trailer for the show. We can safely assume that it will delve into Luke’s troubled past dealings with the law, including his wrongful imprisonment, and his path towards a kind of redemption. If the hero once known as Power Man is to regain a sense of himself as a defender of mankind, he’ll first have to find what made him want to be a hero in the first place.
Prepare for maximum binge watching as Netflix’s Luke Cage charges into action this September 30th!