Marvel Adds Luke Cage to its Netflix Superhero Team

Marvel is adding to its cinematic universe with the series Luke Cage and is releasing the new show through Netflix. Cheo Hodari Coker is developing the series for the popular web streaming service and keeping it inline with the continuity of Marvel’s collective universe in order to prepare for a Defenders crossover miniseries.

Cheo Hodari Coker has worked on both films and television in the past. His highlights include Notorious, a movie chronicling the life of music icon Biggie Smalls, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Almost Human , a series starring Karl Urban and Minka Kelly, which received critical acclaim along with one Emmy win and three nominations. He will be writing the first two episodes of the series.

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By Getty images.

While Cheo Hodari Coker will be working behind the scenes Mike Colter will be the face of the show, playing the title character. Colter has experience playing fighters, his most prominent role came from the film Million Dollar Baby . He has also acted in more fantastic settings, most notably through his roles in the Halo franchise, specifically Halo: Nightfall and Halo 5: Guardians. Now he is the lead of a series but it is interesting to note that it will not be the only show on Netflix featuring Luke Cage and his signature chain belt.

Marvel has clearly dedicated itself to a comprehensive comic universe and is satisfying its fans further by transferring that continuity to film and television. Colter will appear as luke cage in another upcoming Marvel web series (also through Netflix), Jessica Jones . The show is another in the lineup that will culminate in a Defenders miniseries.

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Colter’s take on Luke Cage is bound to be gripping and intriguing as the characters backstory is fairly unique in a superhero universe made of clear good and evil figures. The Luke Cage of the comics has some traditional superhero characteristics, essentially superhuman strength but also unbreakable skin. What separates him from other heros is that he is a reformed convict that now protects the population from crime. It will certainly be interesting to see how that backstory surfaces in the show, if it will be given out to audiences as an intro or hinted at through dynamic flashbacks and mentions that allow the audience to learn more as the show develops.

In the series Luke Cage is part of an experiment that goes awry, granting him his invincible skin and wild strength but rendering him a fugitive out on his own. He eventually makes his way to Harlem and tries to begin a new life there, but as anyone with superpowers does, finds himself up against greater odds than he had expected or hoped for. The show has been in development for some time now, starting in the second half of 2013 with casting decisions being announced later in 2014. Colter will have a great chance to flesh out the Luke Cage character because the show will not be the first time Colter appears as Luke Cage in a Netflix series. Marvel is clearly pushing its interconnected characters in these series, and Jessica Jones will be the first to release. This show does not center around Luke Cage, instead focusing on Jessica Jones , but it will feature Cage and give the actor a chance to work on the character before leading a dedicated series.

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Cheo Hodari Coker does not have a major roll with Jessica Jones but that series is setting a high precedent for these interconnected series that Luke Cage seems very likely to deliver on. Jessica Jones screened at the New York Comic Con and was met with massive applause, praise, and critical interest. This praise was as much for the actors and actresses as for the new direction that Marvel is taking most of its series in.

Judging by how intertwined these two series will be it is fair to believe that they will cover somewhat similar topics and appear to be a continuation of the new direction Marvel is taking its heros in. As opposed to fighting brightly costumed villains bent on conquering the world with fantastic schemes Marvels heroes now find themselves in a grittier, more realistic world. These shows now tackle important, difficult themes like assault, rape, and mental illness.

Clearly this show will not be about the classic Luke Cage of the past, who sported an essentially chrome tiara and was not too far removed from blacksploitation. Thankfully, we will be given a more modern take on Luke Cage for which Colter is equally grateful. He is quoted as 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.” Marvels new modern
direction seems to be doing a service to fans and the company alike, if the huge success of other recent shows is anything to go on.

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Part of this take is changing the nature of the superhero, going from world saving to more community focused narratives. Luke Cage in particular will be something closer to a neighborhood hero and focus essentially only on New York, much like Jessica Jones. The hope is that while major blockbusters such as Thor and Iron man do well in their own right, these new series will take some of the fantasy out of the superhero in order to form a deeper, more tangible connection with viewers. Marvel has placed a lot of resources and creative risk into these series, forgoing cartoonish superheroes for a darker, albeit more realistic, world. It is a move that has paid off in the past and it seems that these interconnected series are slated to continue that trend. Not to mention that while all these series do function independently the real charm is that Marvel is trying to create a new genre of television, one in which the show doesn’t end at the credits. With this perpetual, connected universe and related shows we will see characters and stories intertwining between shows. This will grant viewers a layered experience with different viewpoints on various issues and allow for different views of familiar characters.


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