Sweet Christmas! The Netflix premiere of "Luke Cage" is just two months away, and the cast celebrated by appearing at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Cheo Hodari Coker and more took the stage for the cast's first-ever live appearance together.
Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb took the stage to introduce the cast following an intense trailer that combined footage from "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones" and an all-new look from "Luke Cage." He led the audience in a chant to ramp up anticipation for the casts' appearance before they walked on stage.
"Daredevil's" Jon Bernthal, who plays fan-favorite character Punisher, took the stage as Loeb warned attendees not to record any of the footage shown in the panel. Bernthal, who arrived to thunderous applause, requested for Loeb to roll the trailer again. The audience cheered even louder once Punisher arrived on screens.
"I know how much [Frank Castle] means to you guys, and I take that with me every day. I know how much this character matters. I know how much he matters to the military and members of law enforcement. I take it as an enormous responsibility," Bernthal shared.
"I think that the Marvel fans and comic book fans are the greatest fans in the world. I can't tell you how grateful I am for the feedback. Frank, now, is in my bones... it makes me love my family harder. I squeeze my kids harder. I'm enormously grateful for this opportunity," he added.
Loeb confirmed that Marvel is currently has a "Punisher" series in production. He thanked Bernthal for coming, who complimented "Luke Cage" before he left the stage.
"That's the first time we've shown anybody any footage," Loeb revealed.
Coker then entered the stage. "I want to shout out Charles Murray, Kayla Cooper, Nathan Jackson [and my writing staff]," he said. "Oh my god, this is going to be amazing."
Loeb then introduced Frank Whaley, who plays Detective Scarfe, followed by Theo Rossi (Shades), Simone Missick (Misty Knight), Mahershala Ali (Cornell Stokes, aka Cottonmouth), Alfre Woodard (Mariah Dillard) and Luke Cage himself, Mike Colter. Loeb also called out Rosario Dawson, who could not attend the panel because she is "filming another Marvel television project."
During the introductions, Marvel Comics CCO Joe Quesada interrupted several times by running onto the stage.
"As we well know, there aren't a lot of African American comic heroes... Luke Cage stood out, because he was funny, he was interesting, he was strong," Coker shared. "Even now, even though the character came out in '72, when I think about it and I think about what's going on right now, the world is ready for a bullet-proof black man."
"It's forward, it's fun, it's got a '90s vibe but, at the same time, it's very much today," he said.
"When I picked this up, it was one of the smartest pieces of writing I'd ever come across," Woodard said. "It was set in a place that I love. We all had numbers on the call sheet, but Harlem deserves a number as well. It's a character... everything that's made Harlem over the decades is there."
"I felt the same as Alfre did when I read the script. It kind of transported me to another place," Whaley said. "I was just so thrilled to be part of the Marvel Universe and to be with these incredible actors. It really was and is an amazing piece of work."
"[The show] is what I call the Wu Tang-ification of the Marvel Universe," Coker explained. "Each episode was named after a different GangStar song... It's not just in terms of the music, just also in terms of the pace, the way this fits together."
"Luke has his own problems, and -- if you watch 'Jessica Jones' -- you can tell he's got problems he's hiding," Colter said. "We have a lot of things in store for you... it's a drama first and foremost, and it's set in a superhero world. I can't wait for you guys to see it."
Loeb rolled another clip, which confirms Woodard's Dillard as Black Mariah.
"I could hear the character, and for me, that's always a good sign," Ali shared. "I could tell he had depth, I could tell he was complicated in his own way. He's somebody who goes about things in a different way than the normal person, including myself."
"My research was 'Daredevil,'" said Rossi, who explained that he wears sunglasses for most of the show and thereby cannot act through his eyes. "I think [Shades] is the ultimate opportunist. He's always looking for a way to move forward."
"He's the Littlefinger of 'Luke Cage,'" Coker pitched in.
"When I first read the sides -- Marvel is very secretive -- and I was like, 'This woman is DOPE.' She's bold and brash, fiery," Missick gushed. There's this iconic woman who's so strong and self-assured and determined... she is absolutely her own thing. This show gives you want with her and more. It's insane, the stuff that I would read." Loeb added that Misty Knight is undercover when audiences first see her.
As the cast exited the stage after the premiere of the "Luke Cage" teaser trailer, Quesada came back onto the stage to announce that "Daredevil" will get a third season on Netflix.
Executive produced by Cheo Hodari Coker and produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios, "Luke Cage" stars Colter, Alfre Woodard, Mahershala Ali and Simone Missick. The series will premiere on September 30.