With the launch of “Luke Cage” later this year, Marvel’s shared universe of Netflix series will be one step closer to the team-up series “The Defenders.” And the arrival of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest team is closer than we thought; the show dropped its very first teaser trailer over the weekend at Comic-Con International in San Diego. “The Defenders” is on its way — and “Luke Cage’s” showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker is very aware of that fact, and has been from the very beginning.
During a press event at Comic-Con International, Coker shared his thoughts on the Netflix model from even before he got the job of running “Luke Cage.” “[T]he same way that ‘Daredevil’s’ going to start things off, you can introduce other characters, and those other characters — like [Rosario Dawson’s character] Claire Temple — could kind of come through [other shows],” said Coker. “Normally all those separate contract negotiations and all these different companies, the fact that you’re going to be able to do this in one place and really allow you to approximate the comic book experience in a new medium. The same way that other characters will show up in different books all the time, we can really do our own version of that. Also, not just in terms of the marquee characters but with the subsidiary characters. The fact that you can have that kind of shared universe is really exciting.”
Coker noticed a laptop cover nearby adorned with a skin of the cover for “Giant-Size X-Men” #1 [full disclosure: it was my laptop], which led him to compare the Netflix show to the ’70s reintroduction of the X-Men. “I remember what it was like when I read that reprint, and it’s really the introduction of a new X-Men team,” said Coker. “And that’s really the kind of thing that’s cool with the Defenders, the fact that you have these individual series that are establishing the personalities and characters, but then when you bring them together it’s like Wu-Tang. It’s like Voltron. They all come together in a different way that’s like, dynamic and very exciting.”
Marvel head of TV Jeph Loeb, also in attendance at the press event, had more to say about the Defenders — namely that their main mission isn’t all that similar to the Avengers’. “The question we want people to ask is, ‘What happens when those people meet each other?'” said Loeb. “They look at the world in a different way, so when that happens, that’s what ‘Defenders’ is ultimately about. It’s not about who’s the bad guy or what’s at stake or any of those things. We’re still working in a really grounded world. The sky’s not going to open up and aliens aren’t going to come flying out of it. That’s the Avengers’ job, that’s what they’re supposed to do. The street level heroes always come from a very real place.” Loeb added that the Netflix heroes are more concerned with saving the neighborhood or, in some cases, themselves.
As of now, though, Luke Cage isn’t all that concerned with the affairs of other heroes. “Luke Cage” star Mike Colter told members of the press that “Luke is in his own world. He’s not thinking about — he talked about in ‘Jessica [Jones]’ that there’s this ‘green guy’ running around. He talks about it in a very subtle way because he doesn’t know these people. He just knows there are other people like him. [Jessica] probably knows those people more than he does, and he’s like, ‘What difference does it make? Are you going to make friends with them? You gonna form a group called the Defenders? What is this about?’ That’s what I think is funny about it. No one has this agenda, let’s all join together and create this coalition of superheroes. That’s not who he is and he doesn’t want to do groups; I don’t think anybody wants to be in a group. It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds!”
All 13 episodes of “Luke Cage” arrive on Netflix on September 30; “The Defenders” arrives on the streaming service in 2017.
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