Luke Cage is Coming
The Marvel Cinematic Universe became a cultural phenomenon with its feature films, but these works are frequently criticized for repeating the same formula every time, for having pitifully underdeveloped antagonists, and for putting the importance of crazy airport action sequences above storytelling and character development. Agents of SHIELD came along with the opportunity to dive deeper into its storytelling, as it would put out more hours of content than all of the previous installations of the MCU combined by the end of its first season. Unfortunately, the show initially fell victim to many of the same criticisms, and both expectation and viewer-ship waned.
It wasn’t until Netflix came along that the live-action story-creating potential of this universe was realized. The Marvel Netflix shows have been an interesting and largely successful experiment so far. While they are certainly created for a different breed of audience, with much more violence and mature themes than would be profitable on the big screen or permissible on broadcast TV, it is undeniable that they are carefully crafted works of art in their own right. And on Friday, September 30th, we will all be able to binge-watch what may end up being the most fun show to come out of Marvel TV so far.
The Netflix series includes a throwback to Luke Cage’s classic costume, including the tiara.
The Netflix shows are definitely hard to stop watching. When one episode ends, it doesn’t matter if it is three in the morning, you watch as your cursor mysteriously drifts itself towards the “next episode” button, leaving your body barely aware of what is happening as you continue to dive deeper into the season. Each episode ends leaving you wanting and needing more. Hopefully, Marvel TV is able to maintain a high level of quality, even with their push to get more and more of these series out more quickly.
And more than I was with any of those series, I’m excited to see Luke Cage. Daredevil takes his job way too seriously, and Jessica Jones carried the burden of some very serious subject matter, but Luke Cage is literally unbreakable, so it should be a good time, right? (I mean, yeah, he was seriously injured when he got shot in the head in Jessica Jones, but… he got better!) Luke Cage avoids the Daredevil problem by being reluctant to take on the role of a superhero, much different from Matt Murdoch who is addicted to it. And he avoids the brooding problem of Jessica Jones by… music!
We get to have swagger. A compelling hero and compelling villains. We spruced it up a little bit and added some music but it was going to be fun either way.
Cheo Hodari Coker, the executive producer and show-runner of Luke Cage, cites music as an enormous source of inspiration for the show. Coker, who is most well-known as the writer of the 2009 Notorious B.I.G. biography, tells fans to prepare for “the Wu-Tangification of the Marvel universe.” We can expect this to start right from the first few moments, as Coker personally wrote the first two episodes of the series. Each episode of Luke Cage is named after a Gang Starr song, and the season plays out much like an album, with episodes instead of tracks.
Season 1 Episodes
- Moment of Truth
- Code of the Streets
- Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?
- Step in the Arena
- Just to Get a Rep
- Suckas Need Bodyguards
- Blowin’ Up the Spot
- Take it Personal
- Now You’re Mine
- Soliloquy of Chaos
- You Know My Steez
Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge are responsible for the show’s musical score, and if the trailers are any indication, Luke Cage will breathe and bleed hip-hop. So far, trailers have included tracks such as an Isaac Hayes rendition of “Walk On By,” (which was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan); Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”; Miike Snow’s “Heart is Full (remix)” featuring hip-hop duo Run the Jewels; and Nas’ “Made You Look” from his 2002 album, God’s Son.
On September 26, 2016, the final trailer for Luke Cage dropped, and somehow made the show look even cooler. The Wu-Tangification increases with a Method Man cameo, as the member of the Wu-Tang Clans surreally swaps hoodies with Luke Cage after Cage gets holes shot in his. This newest trailer, released yesterday, can (and should) be viewed, right here next to this text.
Not everyone in Harlem is bulletproof; Pops seems to pull an Uncle Ben.
The official trailer above includes Night Nurse, or Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson). We have seen her before in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and she seems to be acting as the string that currently links all of the Netflix series together. (Much like Phil Coulson did for the early MCU.) Claire will probably have her most significant arc yet in Luke Cage, as her comics counterpart was primarily associated with Luke Cage. It’s funny that we will see the nurse the most here, as she shouldn’t have much healing to do. Hopefully she meets a better end than Coulson in the Avengers. (Just kidding, it has already been confirmed that she’ll be popping up in Iron Fist next year. Don’t worry.)
10 years ago I would have never believed there would be a Luke Cage tv show and Black Panther movie— BrilliantVillain (@IntergalacticQ) August 10, 2016
Luke Cage is set in Harlem, has a 90's hip hop soundtrack, is led by great black actors, and has a black producer. This is what I live for.— Jake. (@YedIin) August 10, 2016
While on the topic of the cultural tone, it goes without saying that Marvel’s first series led by a black hero lead comes at a time where it provides a welcome relief from some of the images prevalent in the media today. Hundreds of pieces have already and will continue to be written by people much more qualified than I to speak on the subject, but it goes without saying that an unscathed black man sporting a bullethole-ridden hoodie is a powerful and inspiring image for many. “The world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” said executive producer Cheo Hodari Coker.
This is a show that celebrates black culture rather than apologizing for it. It takes place in a Harlem that actually looks like Harlem, instead of trying to filter it through a whiter lens. Mike Colter, the actor who plays the role of Luke Cage, noted “We’re just trying to tell a story. We have no agenda. But I hope the black community can feel good about the series.”
Power Man comes along to join the MCU in just a few days, to break a dude’s hand into powder with his face. Tune into Netflix on September 30th!
The official synopsis for Luke Cage is as follows: In this groundbreaking new series, audiences will witness the evolution of Luke Cage (previously introduced in Marvel’s Jessica Jones) after he has relocated to Harlem and is in the process of picking up the pieces following his failed relationship with Jessica Jones. Like the preceding Marvel series on Netflix, Marvel’s Luke Cage is a gritty, action-packed drama, grounded in the real world with heroes who focus on saving their neighborhood and have their feet firmly planted on the ground.