After a pivotal role in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Luke Cage is back for his own Netflix series. Will he follow the trajectory we know from the comics?
Luke Cage: In a nutshell
Born and raised in Harlem, Luke Cage (AKA Carl Lucas) is the epitome of thick-skinned. Sure, he has superhuman strength, but following an in-prison experiment taken too far by sadistic guard Albert ‘Billy Bob’ Rackham, Cage’s steel-like skin and incredibly dense muscle and bone tissue also make him impenetrable by blade, and resistant to conventional handgun fire from up to just four feet away. Handy.
While his skin can be cut by a highly powered medical laser in the event of surgery, he’s impervious to temperatures, unaffected by electric shock and has a recovery time one third that of a regular human. He also speaks several languages, with a good knowledge of the law to boot.
Luke Cage: In the comics
Luke Cage made his Marvel debut in 1972, with his very own series Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. As the name suggests, after using his newfound powers to escape from prison, Cage took an entrepreneurial approach to the typically pro bono superhero game – offering superhuman investigation and security services to those who met his price. He later went on to partner with martial artist Iron Fist, taking on the alias Power Man.
Thought to be inspired by 60s and 70s Blaxploitation films, Cage was the first African-American superhero to star in his own series. Right from the very first cover of the very first issue he was presented as a strong, formidable figure battling very real bad guys – despite his family-friendly ‘sweet Christmas’ catchphrase.
Born Carl Lucas and brought up on the mean streets of Harlem, Cage’s story is age old. He mixes with the wrong crowd and seeks to better himself after seeing the hurt it causes his family, only to be dragged back down. In this case it was by best friend Willis Stryker (AKA Diamondback), who blamed Cage for his breakup with girlfriend Reva Connors. Stryker plants heroin in Cage’s apartment before tipping off the police, leading to Cage’s arrest, imprisonment and subsequent empowerment thanks to both Dr. Noah Burstein’s cell regeneration project and a vengeful guard.
“Cage has a few love interests over the series, but perhaps the most important is private eye Jessica Jones.”
Cage has a few love interests over the series, including Burstein’s colleague Dr. Claire Temple, but perhaps the most important is private eye Jessica Jones. The pair meet on the job, forming an on again/off again relationship where one drunken night leads to the conception of daughter Danielle, and marriage soon follows.
Luke Cage: In Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Convincingly played by Mike Colter, Luke Cage is a pivotal figure in Marvel’s Jessica Jones Netflix series – appearing in 7 of the 13 episodes and providing a tantilising glimpse into what’s to come.
We first meet Cage in the gritty Netflix adaptation as a too-cool-for-school bar owner during a Jessica Jones stakeout. While there’s no sign of comic book-Luke’s yellow open-necked shirt or chain belt, it’s not long before a decidedly one-sided altercation with a lover’s husband reveals Cage as “one of them”. With both being strong, confident and clearly damaged, there’s an instant connection between Cage and Jones, and an ever mounting tension as the episodes roll on.
Steamy encounters see secrets revealed. We learn that Cage’s superpowers were gained through a sabotaged experiment, but he’s unsure of their limitations as yet. Reva Connors is introduced as Luke’s lost love, pictured in his medicine cabinet. It was a simple bus crash, he says, but Jones knows better, having caused the incident while under the mind control of arch enemy and supervillain Zebediah Kilgrave.
These meaty revelations mark the start of the passion, drama and suspense that permeates the pair’s tumultuous relationship. Will they? Won’t they? We’re yet to find out how it will pan out in the long term, though we can expect to learn much more about all that in due course. The show is confirmed by Colter to be set in Harlem a few months after the events of Jessica Jones’s first season, and we look forward to the introduction of a raft of new superheroes as we move one step closer to the Marvel’s Defenders series – the street-level answer to Marvel’s Avengers movies.
Luke Cage: In the future
While The Defenders isn’t set to premiere until 2017, rumours and speculation are rife amongst Marvel lovers. The Luke Cage series is expected to help set the scene by introducing more heroes and villains who’ll carry through into the mini-series and, while we’re yet to determine the exact nature of the key threat, one thing we do know for certain is The Defenders will unite all four of the main Netflix Marvel characters (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist), creating what the streaming giant describes as “an epic team of superheroes.”
“The Defenders will unite all four of the main Netflix Marvel characters (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist), creating what the streaming giant describes as “an epic team of superheroes.”
The Defenders was the name given to a number of Marvel Comics’ superhero groups from 1972 to ’86, presented as a rotational ‘non-team’ of outsiders and misfits known for following their own agendas. This group was consistently led by Dr. Strange and, given the crossover between characters in the preceding Netflix series’, it’s exciting to imagine Luke Cage working alongside Daredevil, Jones and Iron Fist against whatever lies ahead.
Until then, we’ll be keeping an ear to the ground and both eyes on Netflix for the latest in Marvel’s super saga, and… ‘Sweet Christmas’, it’s bound to be good.