Luke Cage Is Netflix’s Newest Marvel Superhero. With Bulletproof Skin and Super Strength.
Luke Cage, Netflix‘s latest Marvel series, streams its 13-episode first season Friday. Pop’s Barber Shop is in shambles, and usually Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is the guy sweeping up the hair on the floor and keeping the place tidy. Not so on this March night, however: Colter‘s good guy is in for the fight of his life.
Every Netflix Marvel project has its own flavor: Daredevil is a crime drama with a blind vigilante, and Jessica Jones is a neo-noir psychological thriller. And Luke? Check out Netflix‘s latest trailer
Coker pitched his take on Luke, a comic book character who first appeared in 1972, as a “hip-hop Western,” recalls Jeph Loeb, executive producer and head of Marvel Television. “He has to clean up the town — it happens to be Harlem — and does so against what would appear to be insurmountable odds, and at a terrible cost to him personally.”
Viewers might as well get to know Luke now, because he’s not going anywhere: Colter will reprise the character in Marvel’s The Defenders, set for 2017, that will team him with Jessica, Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the martial-arts master of Marvel’s Iron Fist (now filming for its own 2017 premiere).
Rather than wield a magical hammer or wear a high-tech Iron Man suit like some of his higher-profile brethren, Luke has a hoodie as a signature accessory. Coker says that piece of clothing will always be political because of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and today’s Black Lives Matter movement, but the show is proudly leaning into tackling tough questions of police violence and urban gentrification.
In that vein, Coker wanted to explore how the ecology of a neighborhood changes when you insert a guy with superpowers, and how that affects cops and crooks alike. Luke offers a different kind of role model for his fellow residents than the primary villains of the show: Cottonmouth, a ruthless crime boss who runs a local nightclub, and his cousin Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), a town councilwoman who will do whatever’s necessary to keep Harlem a “crown jewel” of the African-American community.
Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, played House of Cards alum Mahershala Ali. Cottonmouth is gangster supreme in Harlem, and is clearly as dangerous as he is charismatic. Ali believes Cottonmouth is, like Jessica‘s arch-enemy Kilgrave (David Tennant) and chief Daredevil foe Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) before him, a watchably complex antagonist. Had this tragic figure’s childhood been a little different, he could have been the successful guy playing piano at his nightspot. Instead, he’s a cruel man who keeps a keyboard in the corner of his office, where the most noticeable decoration is a giant picture of rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Following in the footsteps of his fellow on-screen ne’er-do-wells, Ali says he embraced the chance “to be angry and insane and bring rage but also the vulnerability.”
Marvel’s Luke Cage is only days away from its premiere on Netflix and early reviews promise a taut, thrilling action series that draws from the black experience.