Luke Cage, Black and Bulletproof
We need Luke Cage for two reasons from two very different perspectives. Luke Cage furthers the superhero, comic genre in a new and exciting way. Luke Cage is also a black hero and a social and cultural icon.
Let’s explore and then let’s talk about a few things we want to see most from the series when Luke Cage releases on Netflix September 30th.
**MINOR SPOILER ALERT - previously released Marvel properties are up for discussion**
Netflix Continues to Expand the Marvel Universe
We love what Netflix is doing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These shows expand their universe by adding major characters and stories. More importantly Netflix’s Marvel shows are expanding the superhero, comic book genre on film by creating shows that are adult in plot, tone, and style. The MCU on the big screen is PG-13. That wide demographic doesn’t both us. They have shown their films can still have very powerful and adult storylines. The divorce of the Avengers and the fracturing of a friendship in Captain America: Civil War is an excellent example. We still need some heroes meant only for adults. We need heroes exploring the deeper psychology of their world's characters. We need heroes that reach down into the dirt and filth and do what is necessary. The Avengers are icons, gods, and superheroes. They are flying in and out of towers and saving the world. We need heroes on the streets and in our neighborhoods. Sometimes we just need heroes.
Netflix also expands the MCU from the lofty Avenger Towers or Stark’s mansions down to the streets. What does the world look like for heroes fighting for their neighborhoods instead of saving the planet? It’s important and powerful to look into the micro-marvel universe and find the varied faces of a hero. We’ve seen a blind man rise up to be a devil. We’ve seen a tortured soul climb out of a bottle to find purpose as a hero. Now we will see a bulletproof black man stand up for the weak in his neighborhood.
Luke Cage, Black and Bulletproof
Luke Cage is a different kind of hero. He isn’t solely another great Marvel universe hero like Daredevil. He is also a social icon. He is one of the first and most recognizable black superheroes in comics.
Along with Black Panther and a few others, Luke Cage belongs to a very important community in our country. He shares the same skin color, comes from a shared experience, and has inspired young black kids on comic book pages since 1972. Unlike Black Panther, Luke Cage is also that street level hero we love these Netflix shows to bring us. T’Challa explores the roots of African-American's as King of Wakanda, a far off African country. Luke Cage is born, bred, and has a stake in the streets of America. That is a powerful inspiration for millions of Americans. The Avengers were all white when they hit the screen in 2012. Netflix has had two white heroes so far in Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Those were great shows, but we're excited to see a different flavor of hero.
It's time to explore a different community in New York and by proxy the place the black community holds down in every city in the country. We don’t expect any political or cultural statements in the show to be highlighted specifically. It's a superhero show with a narrative focus. The impact and inspiration of Luke Cage, the hero, will no doubt be powerful. It will resonate more loudly for under represented communities of black americans.
Luke Cage, as heroes often do, does not only make a statement about himself. He also reflects back to the world the reflection of his conflict. He is molded and shaped by his struggle. He is identified by the fight he represents. That is why he is also exactly what this country needs right now, in a time of escalating violence between police and minorities, especially black America. Racial prejudice and social injustice are as important today as they has ever been in the history of our country. Our real life heroes take a knee in protest. The news is filled with protests, one police shooting after another.
A bulletproof, culturally powerful, physically imposing, and heroic black man standing tall in America gives us all hope. That is what the best of comics and superheroes have always done. They have given hope, empowerment, and ideals to generations of people across the globe when those things are in shorter supply. Hope that though we may not be bulletproof in the real world, there will be someone out there who will stand up and be a shield for those in the line of fire.
As Samuel L. Jackson said in The Avengers, "it’s a good old-fashioned notion." The superhero is an old fashioned notion, but one we need today as much as ever, to empower and give hope where many struggle to find either.
Is Bulletproof Boring?
The bulletproof hero for hire doesn’t need much help in taking on an army of well armed thugs. Physically, he is invulnerable on the streets. Daredevil is known for its epic action sequences, taking its queue from foreign films, depicting hand to hand combat down hallways and staircases. Daredevil was vulnerable to all type of combat. Jessica Jones was a little bland from an action standpoint as Jessica was overpowered for her foes. That is where Jessica Jones really shined as a character driven narrative. Jones was set against a different type of villain, a manipulative evil sociopath with the power of mind control, the Purple Man. Her battle wasn’t physically brutal like Daredevil. It was war, mentally and emotionally waged.
To get the most out of Luke Cage, he will have to come up against a foe or foes that not only impress from an action standpoint but push the character internally be it mentally or emotionally. Luke Cage's stake is in his community and his loved ones. That is where the man with unbreakable skin is vulnerable. That is what will make this series as another Netflix gem or the first Netflix Marvel disappointment. We’ve heard good things so far.
Who joins in the fight?
Daredevil brought us Punisher in Season 2. Jessica Jones brought us Luke Cage. Who will be joining our Hero for Hire? Hopefully, his good friend Iron Fist will enter into the fray in some way. The two characters, Luke Cage and Iron Fist certainly deserve some time together before The Defenders unite next year.
Marvel has embraced the team-up and this has only made a more rich Marvel Universe. It has worked in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but it has also served Civil War with Iron Man and Spider-man as well as with Captain America and Winter Soldier. Thor and Hulk are also set for a team up in Thor: Ragnarok next year. It works and hopefully we get a little taste with Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Doctor Strange or Spider-man Connection
The Marvel universe of New York City is becoming quite crowded from a superhero standpoint. Earlier this year, Spider-man was revealed to the world when Tony Stark recruits him to join the Civil War. Perhaps a small cameo or easter egg? Maybe Aunt May will have some interaction with Luke.
Doctor Strange also comes out this fall where we will be introduced to the MCU world of magic. Doctor Stephen Strange is a Doctor in New York City before his accident. Recent trailers have shown us both the Sanctum Sanctorum in NYC and also the city staging some kind of reality bending battle. Could a run in with Luke Cage or the Night Nurse, Claire Temple happen at the hospital?
These different properties share the same universe and they are getting closer and closer to directly mingling. We hope this is the season, even if just for a moment. There has been talk recently of the Defenders joining the fray in the Infinity Wars. This would be a great place to lay some groundwork.
The further into these Netflix shows we go, the more important a unique identity will become. This is the 4th season in the Netflix Marvel micro-verse. All previous seasons have been stellar. Yet, Daredevil 1 and 2 had a similar tone, style, and pace. Jessica Jones was at least similar to Daredevil stylistically. They certainly felt set in the same world, the street level neighborhood NY corners of the MCU.
Luke Cage will need to strike a different tone. By all accounts, the show will have a unique style comprised musically and tonally separate from what we have seen before. That should be a very good thing.
Netflix has showcased some incredible action sequences. The shows have also remained very grounded. Jessica Jones didn’t fly around or wear her signature outfit. These shows are grounded. However, these characters may be making appearances in Infinity Wars. It may be time to showcase a little ramped up ability.
Luke Cage presents another opportunity for some epic feats. Will Power Man do anything especially grand in scale?
Among several of his greatest feats, Luke Cage has stopped a plane from taking off. He has survived a nuclear explosion, for a few days before radiation took its toll. He has also knocked out Rhino and later Ironclad, one of the Hulk’s strongest rivals, with one punch. He’s a powerful hero and it will be interesting to see if they give him any extraordinary scenes.
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