Netflix is killing it right now with their original content and at the forefront of this lies the company's deal with Marvel Studios, where four street-level heroes have been given their own solo ventures before uniting together in a special miniseries called The Defenders.
The success of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones set the bar extremely high, but fans are confident that Luke Cage has what it takes to match or even surpass his fellow Defenders when his own show hits Netflix on Friday, September 30.
In some ways, we already know more about Luke Cage than we ever did of Daredevil or Jessica Jones before their shows premiered and that's all thanks to Mike Colter's scene-stealing turn as Jones's love interest. However, there's still a lot to learn about everyone's favourite Hero For Hire before September 30 rolls around, so let's kick things off with the official teaser trailer.
First appearing in 1972, the character of Luke Cage was originally inspired by the popularity of Blaxploitation films, but fortunately, Netflix and Marvel have wisely steered clear of this influence, following more recent and far less offensive iterations in the comics instead.
Here's Marvel's official outline;
"After a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin. Luke Cage becomes a fugitive trying to rebuild his life in modern day Harlem, New York City. But he is soon pulled out of the shadows and must fight a battle for the heart of his city - forcing him to confront a past he had tried to bury."
It's clear that Luke Cage will flash back to the character's origin story at points, but what we're really interested in seeing is how our bulletproof hero will cope with the aftermath of the events depicted in Jessica Jones Season One.
Colter had this to say about the upcoming story;
“He is reeling from the experience that happens in Jessica, and he’s trying to get himself back on track. His bar was blown up, and now, he has to start over again. He’s just got to figure out where he is now, and what he’s doing with his life because he wants to define himself as a man, define himself in society and try to deal with his own demons. Just like Jessica had to deal with her demons, he has to deal with his demons.”
On top of that, we're yet to see the full emotional fallout of Kilgrave's control over Cage, which should continue to have repercussions throughout the season.
From what we've seen so far of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, it's a given that Luke Cage will have a dark tone that's worlds away from the shiny exploits of the show's big screen counterparts, but Colter's solo venture will still possess it's own unique identity.
Colter explains that;
We have a more gritty, focused story on our heroes and characters that live in New York City, but it’s geared towards a more adult audience and I think that’s the thing about the series that will be different... [Cage] likes to keep things close to his chest, operate on the hush-hush…He’s a very nuanced character.”
Reports also suggest that music will feature heavily, drawing upon urban influences to enrich the culture of Harlem, where the majority of the show will take place.
Luckily, Cage won't have to clean up the streets of Harlem alone. Fans of Daredevil will be happy to hear that Rosario Dawson is returning once again in the role of Claire Temple, the Night Nurse who regularly finds herself caught up in the world of vigilante crime-fighting.
The specifics of Dawson's role in Luke Cage haven't been revealed yet, but it looks like Temple may take on a more prominent role than she ever has before, due to her romantic involvement with Cage in the comics. Combine that with Sonia Braga's casting in the role of Soledad Temple, Claire's mother, and it seems a given that Netflix fans will be seeing a lot more of Dawson very soon.
Temple won't be the only woman in Cage's life though. Actress Simone Missick is set to join the cast as Misty Knight, a NYC detective who reluctantly works alongside Cage when the situation calls for it.
Not only does she possess a frankly awesome name, but Misty Knight's character has a rich history in the comics, regularly fighting alongside Cage with the help of her bionic arm implant, back before Bucky made those kind of cool.
There's been no official confirmation yet on whether Iron Fist will appear in Luke Cage's show, but as he's the fourth Defender to star in his own solo venture, we wouldn't be surprised if Marvel introduced him even just fleetingly in the season finale.
Cage and Danny Rand share a long history in the comics, working side by side in their business "Heroes For Hire" and the martial arts expert even holds a romantic connection with Misty Knight, so it seems unlikely that Marvel would pass on the opportunity to introduce the Game of Thrones actor Finn Jones officially into the MCU.
One Netflix hero that we do expect to see on both Luke Cage the show and Luke Cage the person is Jessica Jones, the private investigator who shared a tumultuous relationship with Cage in her own series.
In the comics, Cage and Jones are happily married, so we assume that eventually the pair will work through the pain of their entangled past, but in the meanwhile, Krysten Ritter hasn't officially confirmed an appearance on the show yet, perhaps due to scheduling conflicts with Season Two of Jessica Jones.
Cage may not have a Rogues Gallery as famous as Batman or Spider-Man, but the Hero For Hire has accrued his own share of enemies over the years, a surprising number of whom are set to appear in Season One of Luke Cage.
After a small appearance as a grieving mother in Captain America: Civil War, Alfre Woodard is set to return to the MCU as Black Mariah, a powerful politician who also dabbles in drug deals and various criminal activities.
Joining Black Mariah in the fight to make Cage's life a living hell is Theo Rossi in the role of Shades, a charmingly, manipulative criminal and Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, a Harlem nightclub owner who will probably become the big bad of Season One. Mahershala Ali will be making the move from another Netflix show, House of Cards, in order to play Cottonmouth, who may or may not possess the razor sharp teeth of his comic book counterpart.
The Production Team
The Netflix Marvel shows have performed as well as they have due in large part to the creative influence of their show-runners, so it's reassuring that Marvel have once again chosen a TV veteran to lead their next solo venture.
Cheo Hodari Coker has worked on a number of crime-based shows in the past, including NCIS: Los Angeles, Southland, Almost Human and most recently on Ray Donovan, so he seems like a smart choice to help differentiate Luke Cage from the rest of the Netflix line-up.
In an interview with EW, show-runner Coker explained that Luke Cage will be a;
“... powerful fusion of dark drama, hip-hop, and classic superhero action.”
Promising stuff, but what got us really excited was his description of the upcoming Netflix hit as "The Wire of Marvel television."
Sweet Christmas! Well, whether Coker and the rest of the Netflix team can live up to this comparison remains to be seen, but what we do know is that nothing will stand in the way of us and our laptop when Luke Cage finally premieres on September 30, 2016. The only person more excited than us is Jessica Jones herself!