This is a spoiler-free zone. Read on even if you haven't cancelled all plans and called into your work doing your 'sick voice' just to stay home and binge-watch 'Luke Cage'. We got your back.
It's Friday, the final day of the month, and Netflix just gave us the perfect gift to remember September by: His name is Luke Cage, and he's a hero for hire. Or not, as it transpires.
Yep, Season 1 of Luke Cage just dropped, and like a severely underfed vulture we've been scavenging for Easter Eggs already. (Wait, was that an Easter Egg? How meta can we get?) The good news? The first episode is full of them. The even better news? This article is free of major spoilers (only the minor details necessary to describe the Easter Eggs will be found within), so you don't need to worry about having Jessica Jones's shock death spoiled for you.
Ready to get started? Let's comb through episode one of Luke Cage and look at 10 Easter Eggs which reference Marvel Comics, the MCU, or wider black culture and pop culture, listed in chronological order. Alternatively, watch a supercut of all the biggest and best Luke Cage Easter Eggs in the Movie Pilot exclusive video above.
1. Pops Calls Luke "Power Man"
With issue #17 of its original comics run, Luke Cage: Here For Hire was retitled Luke Cage: Power Man, and from thereon the nickname stuck. At the beginning of episode one, old-school barber shop owner and certified scene-stealer Pops (Frankie Faison) calls Luke "Power Man". Luke Cage doesn't always feel like a superhero series, but little references like that cement the fact that we're in the Marvel universe.
And check this in the barber shop...
They choose their heroes pretty well in Harlem.
2. Avengers, Anybody?
The Marvel/Netflix series love paying oral homage to the Avengers, NYC's most famous (or infamous, post-Age of Ultron) superheroes. That moment comes early in Luke Cage when a kid selling Blu-rays yells Luke's way: "Tony Stark... the big blond dude with the hammer, with the old dude with the shield... you can't get better raw footage of the incident anywhere else than right here!"
(You probably can, but a bro gotta hustle.)
3. A Shoutout To Marvel's Best Villain
Who is Marvel's best villain? For my money, it has to be Wilson Fisk, the preternaturally calm, well-groomed gangster from Daredevil. Fisk gets a shoutout from Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), the politician and reluctant bankroller of Luke Cage's primary big bad, Cottonmouth, to whom she warns: "You saw what happened to Fisk. You two shouldn't even be seen together."
4. Iron Man 2 (If We Must)
Iron Man 2 may be a long way from the upper echelons of Marvel's finest movies, but it's revisited in a cool way during the scene in which weapons are exchanged in a car park... right before a bullet is shot and everything goes horribly south.
The name on that case? Hammer Advanced Systems, an obvious Easter Egg referencing Hammer Industries, the weapons makers most often associated with Iron Man comics. Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) was a villainous force in Iron Man 2, hence the (epic) line: "This that grade-A, military, Justin Hammer-level shit!"
5. Who You Gonna Call?
This is literally the most self-explanatory Easter Egg of all time.
"Who do you think this guy was tryin' to call?", asks one homicide cop as he and Misty Knight encounter a shot-up body. Misty's exquisitely dry response: "Ghostbusters."
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6. Black Lives Matter
This is one of the reasons Marvel's television universe on Netflix is superior to the cinematic side of the MCU — it strips away the bright colors and the shine and looks at how real people in America live their lives, not just spoiled, elite superheroes.
Mariah Dillard's speech hits home: "Since the days of Malcolm X, Harlem has been the jewel of black America. For black lives to matter, black history and black ownership must also matter."
She may be shady and corrupt, but Dillard is a formidable presence in Luke Cage and she's serving pure realness here.
7. Come At The King, You Best Not Miss...
Of course a Harlem gangster with ambitions of expanding his empire across the Big Apple would have a portrait of Biggie Smalls on the wall of his lux office.
More than just a superb piece of set design (and an opportunity for some incredible visuals, like the shot below), the presence of Notorious could very easily be read as some pretty heavy foreshadowing of Cottonmouth's eventual fate...
8. Harlem's Real Heroes
The Avengers are a very specific type of hero — costume, destruction, home in time for dinner — but they're not the first heavyweights a Harlem henchman might call to mind. When Luke steps in to prevent a bunch of paid fists from smashing up his landlord's Chinese restaurant, one of them threatens "You need to step off, Mayweather!"
He then finds out exactly what happens when you fuck with Luke Cage.
9. Hero For Hire... Or Not
In that very same scene, after dealing with the restaurant's unwelcome visitors, Luke's landlord suggests she hire his services of protection. His response goes squarely against the 'Hero For Hire' nickname Marvel Comics gave him back in the day:
"I'm not for hire. But you have my word, ma'am. I've got you."
10. And A Look Ahead At One Of Season 1's Best Comic Book Easter Eggs...
The Easter Eggs and comic book homages don't end with episode one. Without getting too spoilery, Luke's release from prison in a future episode comes armed with this brilliant homage to his classic '70s, blaxploitation-era Marvel Comics costume:
He's not wearing a big-ass chain like a belt, though. Sorry to disappoint.
Which Marvel-themed or pop cultural Easter Egg did you like best in Luke Cage's first ep, and which did I miss?