Netflix’s latest Marvel series, “Luke Cage,” comes at a time focused heavily on race relations in the United States -- and the series about a black man in Harlem with unbreakable skin plans to steer into the conversation.
“We’re doing things that people are thinking about and not just playing it safe,” series star Mike Colter told Entertainment Weekly. “People need to see themselves or feel like they’re being represented in a real, honest, and three-dimensional way.”
Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced a more grounded and grown-up take on superheroes, with “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” portraying a darker world compared to their big screen counterparts. That grittier, more serialized storytelling has helped the Netflix shows stand out in a crowded superhero TV landscape, and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker wants to make “Luke Cage” look like nothing Marvel viewers have ever seen before.
“I pitched it as [Hype Williams’] ‘Belly’ meets ‘City of God,’ written by the staff of ‘The Wire,’” Coker told EW, citing a few of "Luke Cage's" influences.
Coker wants “Luke Cage” to homage to the character's 1970s roots as one of the first leading black superheroes while also infusing it with the social consciousness of our current era. “When you say ‘blaxploitation,’ people usually think bell-bottoms and a waka waka soundtrack,” said Coker. “But ultimately, it is black characters getting to act the same way that their white counterparts did.”
Along with Colter, “Luke Cage” stars a predominantly black cast that includes Alfre Woodard, Mahershala Ali, Simone Missick and Rosario Dawson, who reprises her role from the other Netflix/Marvel series. Netflix will make all episodes of “Luke Cage” available on September 30.