Marvel’s Luke Cage
Now here is a Netflix series to get excited about. If your a fan of the Marvel Universe, Luke Cage should need no introduction. The man is like a walking tank, and is well deserving of his own show. After seeing the trailer today, it definitely looks like it has potential. Web series are really stepping their game up lately, thanks to Netflix, and a few other sources.
Since Marvel’s Luke Cage looks like it has so much promise, I did some source hunting. Below you’ll find the new trailer, the movie poster, and some facts on the series. Let us know what you think about the series in the comment section below.
Marvel’s Luke Cage, or simply Luke Cage, is an upcoming American web television series developed for Netflix by Cheo Hodari Coker, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise and is the third in a series of shows that will lead up to a Defenders crossover miniseries. The series is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios, with Coker serving as showrunner.
Mike Colter stars as Luke Cage, a former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who now fights crime. Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley, and Sônia Braga also star. Development of the series began in late 2013. In December 2014, Colter was cast as Cage, to appear first in a recurring role in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, with Coker hired as the showrunner in March 2015. Filming began in New York City in September 2015 and concluded in March 2016.
All episodes are set to premiere on September 30, 2016.
Video Source – Netflix US & Canada
When a sabotaged experiment gives him super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage becomes a fugitive attempting to rebuild his life in Harlem and must soon confront his past and fight a battle for the heart of his city.
Cast and characters
- Mike Colter as Luke Cage:
- A former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who now fights crime. Colter read the comics and was familiar with the “very detailed, gritty” stories about Luke Cage, but was reluctant to sign on due to some of the comics’ depiction of the character, saying “when I saw the tiara, all the 1970s blacksploitation stuff, I was like, ‘oh my God…’ But they assured me, ‘that’s not what we’re doing, we’re doing a modern day version.'” Colter ultimately signed on for Marvel’s Jessica Jones, with the contingent of appearing in a solo series, without reading any scripts. On playing the character as well as factoring in race, Colter said, “The approach with the character for me is more about the human qualities and the things that make Luke Cage tick…the writers have to then decide to bring in the race of the character, if there’s an angle there. But I don’t look at it as something I have to prep differently for…it’s more of an aside”. Additionally, he put on 30 pounds (14 kg) of muscle for the role.
- Describing Cage, Colter said, “He’s a neighborhood hero, very much linked to New York and Jessica Jones. It’s all part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but Luke Cage is a darker, grittier, more tangible character than Iron Man or Thor. He likes to keep things close to his chest, operate on the hush-hush. He has these abilities but he’s not sure how and when to use them. He’s a very nuanced character. Later elaborating, Colter said, “He’s a renaissance man, he’s trying to better himself and there’s something to be said about someone who’s always trying to make themselves better, trying to change.” Colter noted that the character’s catch phrase ‘Sweet Christmas’ would be used in the series, saying “I was afraid of that phrase, but it actually fits so well, I don’t know why, I don’t know why it fits so well into Luke’s mouth.”
- Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes:
- The owner of the Harlem’s Paradise nightclub who deals in illegal operations. Ali described Stokes as “a Godfather-type villain”, while Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb referred to him as “the other hero of the story”, continuing the tradition of previous Marvel/Netflix villains Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave. Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, a former music journalist, said that the attitude of rapper Biggie Smalls, whom Coker had been friends with, permeates Luke Cage but particularly influenced his version of Cottonmouth. Ali stated that Stokes is a crime boss who hides behind legitimate business, and has a hardened, rigid personality including embracing “capital punishment”, and is “complicated in his own way. He’s somebody who goes about things in a different way than the normal person, including myself.”
- Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard:
- A local politician and Stokes’ cousin looking to bring change to Harlem, whose life is “thrown into turmoil” by the actions of Cage and Stokes. Though Dillard is not necessarily a criminal herself, she does feel a responsibility to her family, including Stokes. Woodard felt that the scripts for the episodes were some “of the smartest pieces of writing I’d ever come across.”
- Simone Missick as Misty Knight:
- A Harlem police detective with a strong sense of justice, who is determined to learn about Cage and is the partner of Rafael Scarfe. Missick said, “She’s her own person. She’s not the wife. She’s not a girlfriend. She’s not a sidepiece or a sidekick.” Missick described Misty Knight as “a person who has a very strong moral compass who is absolutely dedicated to protecting her community”, adding her proudest moment in playing the character, was the fact that she “believes in the system, even though… [with] our current times, it’s difficult to believe in the system.”
- Theo Rossi as “Shades” Alvarez:
- A relentless, menacing, smooth and manipulative, street smart criminal, with ties to Cage’s past. Rossi called Shades “kind of the Littlefinger of Luke Cage“, “the ultimate opportunist”. He wears sunglasses for most of the series, and used Daredevil and Charlie Cox’s acting as research, since he could not use his eyes to act, similar to Cox as Matt Murdock.
- Frank Whaley as Rafael Scarfe:
- A hard-nosed police detective and partner of Misty Knight. Whaley called Scarfe’s relationship with Misty Knight one with “a great deal of love and respect for each other” given that Scarfe “is Misty’s mentor… [who] showed her the ropes. She had this raw talent that he, unlike other people on the force, nurtured”.
- Sônia Braga as Soledad Temple: Claire Temple’s mother.
- Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple:
- A nurse in Hell’s Kitchen, whose friendship with Cage will affect both of their lives. Dawson reprises her role from the previous Marvel Netflix series. “Because she plays a nurse that basically seems to be in the right place at the right time, and she’s very good at helping out superheroes who are in need, and I think you will see some of that in Luke Cage,” said Colter. “Ultimately I think she’s going to be a very good companion for Luke. I think she’s someone that Luke needs in his life at this time.”
- Frankie Faison
- Rob Morgan as Turk Barrett: A mob enforcer and arms dealer. Morgan reprises his role from Daredevil.
- Sean Ringgold as Sugar
- Parisa Fitz-Henley as Reva Connors
- Karen Pittman
- Erik LaRay Harvey as Willis Stryker / Diamondback.
In May 2013, Marvel Studios reacquired the rights to Luke Cage from Sony Pictures Entertainment / Columbia Pictures, after a feature film had been in development at Columbia since 2003, to no avail. By October 2013, Marvel was preparing four drama series and a miniseries, totaling 60 episodes, to present to video on demand services and cable providers, with Netflix, Amazon, and WGN America expressing interest. A few weeks later, Marvel and Disney announced that they would provide Netflix with live action series centered around Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist, leading up to a miniseries based on the Defenders. In late March 2015, Netflix and Marvel Television announced Cheo Hodari Coker as the show’s executive producer and showrunner, and revealed the title to be Marvel’s Luke Cage.
In January 2015, Netflix COO Ted Sarandos stated the series was “eligible to go into multiple seasons for sure” and Netflix would look at “how well [they] are addressing both the Marvel fanbase but also the broader fanbase” in terms of determining if additional seasons would be appropriate. In July 2015, Sarandos said some of the Defenders series would “selectively have multiple seasons as they come out of the gate.” Sarandos stated further a year later that a potential second season would not debut until 2018 at the earliest, after Marvel’s The Defenders released in 2017.
Charles Murray, Kayla Cooper, and Nathan Jackson served as writers on the series. Each episode is named after a Gang Starr song, with Coker explaining, “I wanted the 13 episodes to feel like an album. Like when Prince put out an album, you would shut things out and listen to the whole thing. But now, with TV, you binge watch. This show is made to binge. The music helps, but it is all about the pace.”
Jeph Loeb, executive producer and head of Marvel Television, described the series as “a fugitive story”, and “a story of redemption … the hero’s journey”, while Mike Colter described it as having “soul” and “intensity”, compared to the “dark action” of Marvel’s Daredevil and the “noir feel” of Jessica Jones. Coker described Luke Cage as “a powerful fusion of dark drama, hip-hop, and classic superhero action” while being “The Wire of Marvel television, because we really deal with a lot of different issues.” The series picks up “a few months” after Jessica Jones and is set in Harlem rather than the Hell’s Kitchen of the previous two series, which Colter described as “a completely different world”. Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief Joe Quesada stated that, unlike Daredevil and Jessica Jones which featured a fictionalized version of Hell’s Kitchen that was more inline with how it was when the comics were first written, the Harlem of Luke Cage represents the Harlem of “today”, and is truer to the real-life modern New York. Coker described Cottonmouth’s club, Paradise, as the series’ Iron Throne, given “the way that it’s established, it just really sets up our version of this universe in a really compelling, really fun way.”
Talking about the series in relation to Jessica Jones, Colter stated, “We pride ourselves in all being unique shows, and Luke Cage is definitely not a sequel to Jessica Jones or a spinoff, because it was already originally was supposed to be a show … Marvel’s Luke Cage, as opposed to Marvel’s Jessica Jones, is completely different. He goes off to uptown and he does his own thing…[but] the time lapse is not that long, and so it’s not like Jessica Jones never happened.” Colter added that in Jessica Jones he enjoyed not being “front and center” while Luke Cage “wasn’t trying to be a superhero”, but in Luke Cage, the character would be “growing into that” role. He explained that in Luke Cage, the character is “trying to make ends meet….he’s tending bar[s], he’s bouncing around. And for good reason, he’s a fugitive, he has some skeletons in his closet. He’s trying to basically stay off the radar.” An event in the series’ second episode, described as “hard to watch”, is what Colter described as “necessary to get this series into forward action mode … There were events that needed to happen to make [Cage] see that he couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.”
On how the series develops the character, Colter said, “when I look at the scripts, I’m really pleased with it because it’s a slow-burn; there’s nothing happening really fast that gets ahead of itself. I’m really with where [the writers are] taking it and how they’re developing the characters, because it’s really cool and it’s geared towards an adult audience, which is something that will be different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe you’ve seen before on the big screen. We have a more gritty, focused story on our heroes and characters that live in New York City… and I think that’s the thing about the [Netflix] series that will be different.” Loeb said the series was about Luke Cage’s “story and where he came from and, most importantly, where he’s going” after “catching him not quite in the middle, but in the early part of the middle” of his story on Jessica Jones. On this, Colter noted that like the previous Marvel/Netflix series, Luke Cage uses flashbacks, though “in a different way [than the other series] to tell a different part of the story.”
When asked whether the series would feel as “adult” as Jessica Jones, Colter replied, “if you think Jessica is adult then we’re still keeping up with that pace….we’ll continue along those lines of PG-16+”. On whether Luke Cage would address current race issues, including Black Lives Matter, given the character’s past (a wrongfully imprisoned black man), Colter said, “this is not necessarily the platform to hit it head on” but “the things that he’s going through will ring true for a lot of people in law enforcement…and people who are on the street will also relate to this character.” Loeb said on the issue, “Luke Cage, when he came on the scene in the early 70s was for all intents and purposes the first black superhero. Given what’s going on present day, it just resonates.” Coker stated that Cage is “someone that the community can touch and go to”, adding, “There’s never been a time in history where having a bulletproof black man, in terms of just looking at how that affects a neighborhood, in terms of looking at, for example, how it not only changes law enforcement but also changes the criminal world, and really in a sense, it’s like Luke’s entrance into this world changes the ecology of the entire neighborhood.”
By November 2014, Lance Gross, Colter, and Cleo Anthony were in contention for the role of Luke Cage, which was envisioned as a recurring role on Jessica Jones before headlining Luke Cage. Colter was confirmed in the role the next month. In August 2015, Alfre Woodard, who portrays Miriam Sharpe in the MCU film Captain America: Civil War, was in talks to join the cast, and the following month she was confirmed as a series regular as Mariah Dillard. Also announced as cast in September was Theo Rossi as Shades, Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, and Frank Whaley as Rafael Scarfe. In November, Sonia Braga was added to the cast as Soledad Temple, the mother of Claire Temple, with Rosario Dawson reprising the latter role from Daredevil.
Stephanie Maslansky, the costume designer for Daredevil and Jessica Jones, serves as costume designer for Luke Cage as well. Luke Cage has his own wardrobe evolution throughout the series, as Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones did, after his initial look of T-shirts, jeans, leather jackets or an army jacket was introduced in Jessica Jones.
Marvel announced in February 2014 that the series would be filmed in New York City, with Quesada stating in April that the show would be filming on location in addition to sound stage work. In July 2015, Loeb stated that the series was prepping to begin filming, and by September 2015, production had begun with the working title Tiara. Filming locations included Lenox Avenue and areas of Harlem where American Gangster was shot, while the nightclub Harlem’s Paradise was intended to invoke the real-life Harlem nightclubs the Cotton Club and the Lenox Lounge. Filming concluded in March 2016. It was important to Coker for the series to actually film in Harlem, which he said is “the only place in the city where you see those wide boulevards. We really wanted to capture the color, the rhythm of the streets”.
Manuel Billeter served as director of photography for the series, after doing the same for Jessica Jones. He worked with director Paul McGuigan to establish the look of the series in the first two episodes, with Coker hiring McGuigan based on his direction of the Sherlock episode “A Scandal in Belgravia”. Coker was delighted to learn how little McGuigan used CGI to craft the visuals of that episode, and wanted the same approach for Luke Cage, “just old school camera stuff. He brought a very analogue perspective, analogue feel to the show.” McGuigan, Coker explained, directed “every scene [as] long takes, from multiple takes over and over again. We would run an entire eight page scene almost like a play, so when it comes together it’s seamless.”
In April 2016, Coker revealed that Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad were composing for the series, calling the music “a ’90s hip-hop vibe” with “a lot of different musical appearances”. Younge and Muhammad utilized a full orchestra for the score, which was conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Colter stated that the “musicality” of the series would differentiate it from past Marvel Netflix series, saying “It defines itself through sound that you can feel when you’re watching the scenes, whether it’s something that’s actually a song that they’re playing or actually just the pulse of the music that they choose thematically.” He added that the audience would hear familiar songs in the series which, along with the “unique” original score, would create an “urban” and “soulful” feel throughout. He added: “We are in Harlem, so you want to feel like you are around that kind of culture. Harlem has a long, rich culture of music and we want to pay homage to that. We want to make sure that the artists that we use and the artists that we are emulating, the sound that we are using bring you into the feel that you’re uptown”. Coker added that the light and fun tone of the music balanced some of the darker dramatic elements and more serious thematic issues depicted in the show. The series features onscreen performances by Faith Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Charles Bradley, The Delfonics, Method Man, and Jidenna, singing original music and their top hits (Jidenna sings an original song, “Long Live the Chief”, while Faith Evans sings “Mesmerized”). Songs from Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, and John Lee Hooker are also featured in the series. Coker stated that there are plans for a vinyl soundtrack album for the series, to be produced by Younge and Muhammad.
Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins
Luke Cage is the third of the ordered Netflix series after Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and will be followed by Marvel’s Iron Fist, before leading into the miniseries, Marvel’s The Defenders. In November 2013, Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that if the characters prove popular on Netflix, “It’s quite possible that they could become feature films,” which was echoed by Sarandos in July 2015. In August 2014, Vincent D’Onofrio, Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, stated that after the “series stuff with Netflix”, Marvel has “a bigger plan to branch out”. In March 2015, Loeb spoke on the ability for the series to crossover with the MCU films and the ABC television series, saying, “It all exists in the same universe. As it is now, in the same way that our films started out as self-contained and then by the time we got to The Avengers, it became more practical for Captain America to do a little crossover into Thor 2 and for Bruce Banner to appear at the end of Iron Man 3. We have to earn that. The audience needs to understand who all of these characters are and what the world is before you then start co-mingling in terms of where it’s going.”
Luke Cage is scheduled to be released on September 30, 2016, on the streaming service Netflix worldwide, in Ultra HD 4K. The 13 hour-long episodes will be released simultaneously, as opposed to a serialized format, to encourage binge-watching, a format which has been successful for other Netflix series.
Disney Consumer Products created a small line of products to cater to a more adult audience, given the show’s edgier tone. Paul Gitter, senior VP of Marvel Licensing for Disney Consumer Products explained that the focus would be more on teens and adults than very young people, with products at outlets like Hot Topic. Additionally, a Marvel Knights merchandise program was created to support the series, which creates new opportunities for individual product lines and collector focused products. Licensing partners wanted to pair up with Marvel, despite this not being a film project, given its previous successes.
On March 18, 2016, the first footage of the series debuted exclusively on Netflix. The trailer appeared at the end of the second season of Daredevil, autoplaying after viewers finished the final episode. In July 2016, Colter, Woodard, Ali, Rossi, Missick, Whaley, and Coker appeared at the San Diego Comic-Con to promote the series and debut footage.