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Monday, March 14, 2016

6 Questions About This Fall's Luke Cage

Edited by Robert Beach 

This Friday will mark the premiere of Marvel’s 3rd Netflix series in the 2nd season of Daredevil. However, that won’t be the end of Marvel and Netflix’s partnership this year as they’ll also be launching a new series this fall. Coming September 30th Marvel’s Luke Cage will premiere on Netflix. Luke has already debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing as a supporting character in last year’s hit series Jessica Jones.  

It was established in the series that Luke already has his super powers from the comics of enhanced strength and unbreakable skin. It’s also been confirmed Iron Fist, Marvel’s next proposed Netflix solo hero, will have some part in Luke’s outing. Beyond that, we don’t really know much about the Luke Cage show, so I’ve put together a list of major questions about the upcoming series. 

Starting out with a bit of an obvious softball. It was established in Jessica Jones that Luke’s wife was somehow involved with the super villain Zebediah Kilgrave, the Purple Man. We don’t know what their connection was. We know she was investigating Kilgrave and managed to dick up his origins before Kilgrave had her killed. That mystery was left unanswered at the end of Jessica Jones' first season run, so I’m betting we’re going to get a bit more insight into it now. I could see the explanation being tied to the various S.H.I.E.L.D. factions that all run around or possibly linked to research into the experiment that gave Luke his powers. 

In the comics, Luke was subjected to an experiment in jail that gave him unbreakable skin and super strength, but there’s no guarantee that will be the same case here. It could be that his wife cooked up some scheme due to a medical condition. Or she was looking into a way to reverse his powers for whatever reason and that brought her into conflict with Kilgrave. More pointedly, it could be she and Luke were hired to track him down as part of the whole Heroes For Hire thing that’s always been a big part of Luke Cage lore.  Speaking of Jessica Jones though…

So far there’s only been one significant cameo in the Marvel Netflix run, and that was the Night Nurse crossing over from Daredevil into Jessica Jones. The close connection between Luke Cage and Jessica would suggest she’ll appear somewhere in his program. Unless Luke Cage’s series is taking place before any of the events of the other Netflix shows, it’ll probably have to deal with the fallout of his relationship with Jessica or Daredevil’s big throw down with The Hand. 

Beyond other Netflix heroes, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for seeing more big-name Marvel heroes pop in, mainly due to contract situations. It’s possible we might see the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in some capacity thanks to Luke’s position as an escaped convict. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Marvel’s been doing a lot to keep its Netflix arm a safe and separate corner of the overall universe, and I doubt they’ll break that anytime soon. At most, we might see Spider-Man swinging across the skyline, or the events of some big superhero situation on TV. Though by the same token, there’s only one big superhero event between Jessica Jones and now that would really impact Luke.

Something that’s become an accepted certainty for the upcoming blockbuster Captain America: Civil War is either Cap will die or Iron Man will win. What people aren’t talking about in regards to this assumption is it means superhero registration will effectively become law in the Marvel universe. That’s a really major change.  Superhero registration shook the comic book world as suddenly being a government operative or a remaining rebel defined every hero. Unless Luke is set way before/at the same time as Jessica Jones, the show will have to address where Luke stands in that particular issue.

 I mean, Cage does tend to keep a low profile due to his fugitive status, but if even the premiere ground-level New York hero Spider-Man is throwing in with Iron Man, that’s got to be a big deal. It’s possible we’ll see Luke interact with some of Cap’s rebel Avengers who refuse to register post Civil War like probably Scarlet Witch or Ant-Man. That’s a really big if. Even if Luke just avoids registering, the fact heroes are now legally compelled to be government lackeys is going to hang over any heroics he tries to accomplish. 

As mentioned, Iron Fist is confirmed to have a role in the Luke Cage show. What that role is remains a mystery. Normally, one might assume this connection would be a minor cameo to set the stage for Iron Fist in 2017. Given that Luke’s role in Jessica Jones was as a full-on supporting character, it could go either way.  Traditionally, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have been best friends and active superhero partners when it turned out neither one of them could really sustain a solo comic in the ‘70s. 

So far all of the Defenders have started with powers rather than going through an origin story. I could see Iron Fist popping up as Luke’s super powered kung-fu friend if it turns out they do have to deal with the fallout from that ninja stuff going down in Daredevil season 2. I don’t think Fist will stick around for the whole show as it seemed like Daredevil season 1 was trying to set-up his series with that super-powered Chinese woman, so he’ll have to head back to China sooner or later. 

This is a bit more of an ethereal one, but it requires talking about regardless. So far, both Daredevil and Jessica Jones have included major plot elements intended to act as set-up for possible Defenders storylines. For Daredevil, it’s all his ninja and kung-fu stuff that they’re doubling down on for season 2. For Jessica Jones, it was her side plot about super soldier Nuke and seeking the origin of her powers. It’s pretty clear Marvel and Netflix are playing the whole Defenders thing by ear, just looking for the plot threads that draw the most interest before deciding which big bad the heroes will be throwing down against (much like the studio did when they were scripting Avengers.) 

Given this I suspect we’ll have to see some kind of Defenders set-up for Luke Cage, though I’m really not sure what it’ll be.  Luke’s villains are all pretty lame and unknown. Given the obvious elements about race relations in his series, I could see the Sons of the Serpent popping up in some capacity, especially given his main villain looks to be campaigning for political office. 


Sort of a weird one, yet I’d be remiss not to mention it. When Luke Cage was revived in the 2000s after several decades of obscurity, he decided he was done wearing any kind of a traditional superhero costume. It worked well enough given his original costume is one of the most gloriously ridiculous superhero outfits ever conceived.  It’s a blue and yellow ensemble featuring a flowing open shirt, massive afro, belt made from a chain, and a god damned tiara.  

I doubt we’ll see this original costume translated from page to screen flawlessly. If the writers could contrive some kind of reason for Luke to throw on the costume, that’d be pretty great. Both Daredevil and Jessica Jones have had extensive flashback episodes revolving around the characters’ early days and origin stories, so it wouldn’t be too hard for them to do something similar with Luke.  Even if they decided to give him a more streamlined version of the costume like the Luke Cage on Ultimate Spider-Man wore, that’d be pretty great in its own right.  

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