Given that viewers already saw a lot of Luke Cage, as played by Mike Colter, on Netflix’s “Jessica Jones” — and if you’ve watched the show, you know we do mean a lot — they might think they know what to expect when Marvel Television‘s “Luke Cage” solo series debuts in September. However, according to those involved, it will be very different from both “Jessica Jones” and its Marvel/Netflix predecessor “Daredevil.”
Last week at the red carpet premiere event for “Captain America: Civil War,” CBR News chatted briefly with “Luke Cage” showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and actress Simone Missick, who plays cybernetically enhanced detective Misty Knight. Both stressed that while it’s definitely in the same world as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” will have its own feel — as reflected in part by its setting of Harlem, rather than Hell’s Kitchen.
Coker, a hip-hop journalist and TV veteran who’s worked on “Southland,” “Ray Donovan” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” also discussed the connection he sees between Luke Cage and albums like “Midnight Marauders” by A Tribe Called Quest, and his long history with comics fandom. In speaking of the importance of playing Misty Knight, Missick remarked, “Misty Knight is so iconic and so important to so many people; you don’t realize until you join the project.”
CBR News: Simone, Cheo, “Daredevil” had a very specific feel; “Jessica Jones” did too, while both clearly inhabiting the same territory. Where does “Luke Cage” fall in the spectrum between those two shows?
Simone Missick: It’s completely different.
Cheo Hodari Coker: Absolutely.
Missick: The colors, the feel, the sounds — everything about this show is its own thing. Harlem is a character in this show. All the other shows took place in Hell’s Kitchen; this is the first one that’s taking place in Harlem, and you definitely feel that. You feel that in the music, in the conversation, in the characters, everything. It’s its own thing. “Luke Cage” is something completely new.
Coker: For me, hip-hop has always been black superhero music. And now we have a black superhero that matches the music. When you think about Wu-Tang, when you think about A Tribe Called Quest records like “Midnight Marauders,” it’s deep in the culture, but at the same time, it’s become the new rock and roll. Everybody accepts it, everybody understands it.
That’s really the vibe of the show — on one hand, we’re dealing with Harlem in ways that really haven’t been dealt with. But at the same time, it’s a superhero show. At the same time, you get to meet Luke Cage. You get to meet Misty Knight. You get to meet all these other characters. It’s these comics come to life with a hip-hop vibe. It’s incredibly fun.
Were there specific eras of the comic book that you looked to for inspiration?
Coker: We go all the way back to the beginning in terms of the vibe, but it’s modernized. If you’re a fan of the comic, it will be a very familiar world.
Simone, what was the process like for you in playing Misty Knight?
Missick: So cool.
Misty is a great character with a lot of history, and has a unique spot within Marvel’s roster.
Missick: Every day was a gift. To be able to be a strong woman, who’s passionate about doing her job, to kick ass — it was all of those things every single day. Misty Knight is so iconic and so important to so many people; you don’t realize until you join the project. Then people are like, “Oh, my God, you’re Misty Knight!” It makes you even more excited. To be the first person to say these words, to give her a voice, it’s like stepping into your own ocean, and it’s yours.
Cheo, your background is primarily in more grounded material like “Southland.” “Luke Cage” is more grounded than say, “Captain America: Civil War,” but will still have superpowers and fantastic elements. What was it like taking on more of a genre-y show here?
Coker: I’m an every-Wednesday kind of guy. One of my favorite memories as a kid was when the original “Secret Wars” came out with the debut of the black costume for Spider-Man. I remember I couldn’t wait to get home to read it, and I was like, “Oh, my God, I’ve been waiting for this comic to come out. I hope, god forbid, nothing happens to me before I get home to read it.” When I say this is a fantasy come true for me — it’s such an amazing opportunity. Just as a geek, I love this world. To be able to write in a serious way inside of this is really cool, as well.
For our show — yes, we deal with serious themes. Imagine what somebody with bulletproof skin, how that could affect the neighborhood when it comes to crime. We deal, in a very realistic way, with how that influences the neighborhood (without revealing anything). It’s grounded, but at the same time, the fantasy element of it also, I think, will attract people. We have something that’s very dramatic, but at the same time, we don’t run away from our comic book roots. We embrace them.
Missick: The show is very grounded, definitely. But it’s fun — to be able to play around in that realm, and explore what it would be like if somebody had superpowers; it’s awesome.
Starring Mike Colter, “Marvel’s Luke Cage” debuts Sept. 30 on Netflix.
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