Mike Colter's Luke Cage took a surprisingly central role in last year's critically loved Jessica Jones, and his own titular series is set to premiere September 30, 2016 on Netflix.
The Marvel Netflix shows thus far have been the surprising standout of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Jessica Jones and both seasons of Daredevil loved by fans and critics alike. And Luke Cage, together with Iron Fist, is all leading towards the street level The Defenders, the more grounded foil to the Avengers.
And though you'd expect Iron Fist to be pretty different to the rest due to his mystical, dragon-heart-punching origins, you might be surprised to discover that Luke Cage is going to be a whole new story of super-powered awesomeness.
At last week's Captain America: Civil War premiere, CBR News caught up with Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, and actress Simone Missick, who plays detective Misty Knight on the show. They explained a little regarding how Luke Cage is going to have a different 'feel' over its Marvel Netflix predecessors and, unlike Jessica Jones, it's taking a step further away from the shadow cast by Daredevil.
Both Coker and Missick describe Luke Cage as 'completely different' to what's come before, and a lot of that has to do with the change in setting — from Hell's Kitchen to Harlem. According to Missick:
"The colors, the feel, the sounds — everything about this show is its own thing. Harlem is a character in this show. All the other shows took place in Hell's Kitchen; this is the first one that's taking place in Harlem, and you definitely feel that. You feel that in the music, in the conversation, in the characters, everything. It's its own thing. 'Luke Cage' is something completely new."
For Coker, Harlem has always been closely connected to hip-hop, a genre running through the vein of the neighborhood's history; a neighborhood from which many famous rappers have emerged.
Hip-hop leaves its mark on Luke Cage too, as Coker explains:
"For me, hip-hop has always been black superhero music. And now we have a black superhero that matches the music."
Harlem's been explored in the past, through many different forms of media, in many ways, by many filmmakers. But Luke Cage will look at it through an entirely new lens, that of the modernized superhero.
Self-described comic book geek Coker describes Luke Cage as "these comics come to life with a hip-hop vibe," and says that — in terms of the source material — they've gone back to the beginnings of the comic books to seek out the 'vibe' for Luke Cage. While certain elements will be modernized for the adaptation, for fans of the comics it's going to be 'a very familiar world.'
Luke Cage wasn't the first black superhero in mainstream comic books — that accolade belongs to Black Panther, who has his onscreen debut this week in Captain America: Civil War — but he was a landmark character regardless, arriving on page six years after Black Panther.
Luke Cage wasn't the first black superhero in the MCU either — that was Rhodey/War Machine — nor is he the second or third; but he is the first one to have his own titular show, which is a pretty big deal.
Unless you count Guardians of the Galaxy — which did still center around the lead white male, Star-Lord — every solo show and film in the MCU, and the majority of ensemble ones, have been headlined almost entirely by white characters. Luke Cage is going to change that. For a lot of people this might not be a big deal, but to many others it's a big step forward in representation, even if it was eight years coming.
Marvel's Luke Cage arrives with all episodes on Netflix September 30, 2016.