Get ready for Marvel’s “Luke Cage” with this in depth preview ahead of the September 30 debut on Netflix….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Marvel’s third Netflix series is finally set to debut as “Luke Cage” lands with all 13-episodes on September 30 and judging by the footage shown at San Diego Comic Con, this will be unlike anything the comic book giant has done before.
After first being introduced in “Jessica Jones”, Luke Cage is set to tackle his own series with a slew of new faces joining him this season as well as a couple familiar names from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There were still a lot of unknowns about the series until the cast and crew behind “Luke Cage” had a chance to talk about the show at Comic Con and they unveiled a ton of new information as well as four scenes that debuted in San Diego.
“Luke Cage” show runner Cheo Coker was beside himself with excitement when talking about the new series because this is exactly the kind of superhero story he’s always wanted to tell.
Coker admitted that part of the attraction to doing the “Luke Cage” series was finally introducing a lead African-American character to the Marvel television universe, but that was only a piece of the puzzle in why he loved this character so much.
“The thing is as we well know, there aren’t a lot of African-American superheroes and I’ve been reading comics since I was eight or nine years old. Luke Cage stood out, not only because he was black, but because he was funny, he was interesting, he was strong, and I always felt a personal connection to the character,” Coker said.
“Of course when I heard that Marvel and Netflix were doing a show, I put myself up for it and I was lucky enough to get a meeting with Jeph (Loeb) and the rest is history.”
Coker also spoke to the cultural significance of a character like Luke Cage in this day and age, especially considering what’s going on in the streets across America right now.
“When I think about it and I think about the impact of what’s going on right now — the world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” Coker said as the audience roared in applause.
STEP IN THE ARENA
When talking about the look and feel of “Luke Cage”, Coker said there is a real “90’s vibe’ to the show, but it still feels set in modern times as well.
Coker also referenced how the show is very much told as one story from beginning to end, almost like an album and that’s why he named every episode during the first season after a song from a legendary hip-hop group.
“Every single episode is named after a different Gang Starr song,” Coker revealed. “The reason is I wanted the 13 episodes to almost feel like an album. I mean back in the day when a Prince record came out or say for example something like Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate” came out, you’d shut things down and listen to the entire record.
“So the only time we do that nowadays, with streaming and everything else, is when you binge watch. It’s the only thing now beyond what records used to be, where you sit down and there’s a rhythm to how everything is connected.”
To add an exclamation point to his tease about the show, Coker says that “Luke Cage” offers something for anybody tuning into watch the show but it’s not a series for the feint of heart because this is a very intense experience from beginning to end.
“Episodes 1-13 — it’s relentless,” Coker said.
One reference that was made numerous times when speaking about the “Luke Cage” series was how the character was first revealed in “Jessica Jones” but everything we learned about him at that time was based on her point of view.
Even the revelation that Jessica interacted with Luke’s wife just before her death was told through her perspective and a revelation made while she started to remember all the atrocities she committed while under Kilgrave’s control.
As much as Luke Cage was a central part to “Jessica Jones” season one, he was still part of her story.
Now in his own series, Luke is revealing even more secrets about his own background, which would also likely encompass how he came to have impenetrable skin in the first place.
“Luke has his own problems and I think if you watch “Jessica Jones” you can tell he’s hiding a lot of things in the closet and he didn’t care too much to dig into what Jessica was hiding because he didn’t want to give too much away himself,” Mike Colter said about playing Luke Cage.
“Eventually, you find a lot more information when you watch “Luke Cage” the series that we’re going to show you on September 30. There’s so much back story. We really have a lot in store for the fan boys, for those who want action, a little romance.”
One of the most exciting parts of the “Luke Cage” panel was watching Simone Missick introduced as Misty Knight, which had everybody familiar with the character very excited about her debut on the show.
Misty Knight first debuted in Marvel Comics all the way back in 1975 and she was connected to both Luke Cage and Iron Fist (who is getting his own series in 2017). Now she’s coming to life as part of the Marvel television universe and judging by the teaser footage shown, she gets intimate with Luke Cage in a hurry.
Misty is a police officer in the show and it looks like she’ll be teamed up at some point with Detective Rafe Scarfe (played by Frank Whaley).
While it looks like Misty will occupy most of Luke’s time this season, “Luke Cage” season one will also feature the return of Rosario Dawson as everybody’s favorite nurse Claire Temple.
It appears Luke Cage will run afoul of a few different bad guys during season one of the show, but at the top of the list is Cornell Stokes aka “Cottonmouth” played by “House of Cards” star Mahershala Ali.
In one scene from the show, Stokes is scene in his office — adorned by a gigantic picture of The Notorious BIG — interrogating a former associate who stole from him. Stokes is clearly a fierce and fearsome boss and he’s set to run head onto Luke numerous times during the 13-episode run.
“It was a really exciting experience to sit down and get to read this first script because it was I could hear the character and for me that’s always a good sign,” Ali said about Stokes.
“I could tell that he had depth, that he was complicated, in his own way well intended, he was somebody that went about things that was probably different from the common person.”
Surrounding Stokes at any given time this season will also be “Shades” Alvarez, played by “Sons of Anarchy” star Theo Rossi as well as Mariah Dillard — best known to comic book fans as “Black Mariah”, played by Alfre Woodard.
Coker praised Woodard as a huge land for “Luke Cage” and she seemed truly excited to be part of the cast for season one. Woodard is a multi-time Emmy award winning actress so it was certainly a big score for Marvel to cast her in “Luke Cage”.
Woodard commented that as soon as she read the first episode of “Luke Cage” before she landed the part that she was already hooked and immediately wanted to sign on to do the show.
“When I picked this up, it was one of the smartest pieces of writing that I had ever come across,” Woodard said. “That’s what I do — I follow the script. It’s got to be there.
“So that’s a tribute to Cheo’s concept, Cheo’s vision, he carried it all the way through.”
Woodard also commented that the location where “Luke Cage” is set will play a huge part during season one.
As much as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” are set in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, “Luke Cage” takes place about five miles away in Harlem and that’s a major backdrop for the series.
“It was set in a place that I love and we’ll all probably talk about that, but we all had numbers on the call sheet but Harlem deserves a number on the call sheet as well. It is very much a character,” Woodard said about the location for the show.
The four scenes shown at Comic Con — the interaction between Luke and Misty, Cornell Stoke interrogating a former employee, Cornell speaking with Mariah and Luke Cage trouncing some bad guys while searching for a shipment of illegal guns — gave a small glimpse into this series that will be different than anything Marvel has done before.
The show looked gritty and very grounded in reality despite the fact that the star of the show has super strength and bulletproof skin.
Coker teased that “Luke Cage” will definitely have an incredible soundtrack to accompany the series and judging by his revelation that every episode is titled after a Gang Starr track along with the giant portrait of Biggie Smalls and the trailer, which featured music from Ol’ Dirty Bastard, he’s not kidding about the musical influences.
“Luke Cage” certainly has my attention after the little bit of footage shown at Comic Con and there’s little doubt this will be another Marvel series to set aside a weekend and get ready to binge watch all 13 episodes when the show drops on September 30.