Luke Cage, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones before it, has been another massive success for Marvel, and perhaps even the studio’s boldest venture to date. Featuring openly political themes, honest storytelling, and filled with fully three dimensional characters, Luke Cage is a show with many unforgettable moments, and it does a lot to flesh out the real world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But while Luke himself may have been introduced in Jessica Jones, and most of the main cast is brand new to the big screen, there’s another fan favorite character along for the ride, once again: Claire Temple, the Night Nurse.
Without a doubt, Rosario Dawson’s Claire has been the surprise breakout character of the Marvel pre-Defenders shows. Smart, practical, compassionate, and able to take care of herself and provide the voice of reason amongst the volatile superheroes that she stitches up, Claire plays a huge role in Luke Cage’s narrative — and it seems likely that she’s only going to play a bigger role from here on out. As we await the arrival of Marvel’s next series, Iron Fist, it’s time to learn 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Claire Temple.
15. In the Comics, she was First Introduced as a Luke Cage Character
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we first meet Claire Temple as the nurse who rescues Daredevil from a dumpster early in the show’s first season. In addition to saving his life, she’s the first person who the new vigilante really connects with, and she and Matt Murdock even come together romantically for a spell. It doesn’t last — let’s face it, Matt is kind of a difficult person to have any relationship with, much less a romantic one — but the two remain connected, and Claire’s repeated mentions of her “friend” whenever trouble arises make it clear that she has a lot of respect for what Matt does.
But in the comics, Claire was actually introduced as a Luke Cage character, all the way back in his second issue. Needless to say, the two go back pretty far, so it’s no surprise that she made it into the series. Similarly to the MCU, Claire first meets Luke when he’s injured, and she immediately tries to help him with her medical know-how — only to find out about his rather unusually durable skin. Soon afterward, Claire and Luke begin dating.
14. They had a Rocky Relationship
So basically, the romantic connection between Claire and Luke is nothing new. But Luke and Claire’s relationship on Netflix is most likely going to get complicated, if the comics are any indication about what we might expect in the MCU’s future — which they might not be, since Marvel does enjoy throwing in plot twists to surprise the fans.
In the early Luke Cage comics, Claire is Luke’s primary relationship, and though they go back and forth many times, there’s a lot of genuine love between them. Between romantic walks on Christmas Eve, dinner dates, and emergency rescues, Claire and Luke go through a lot together, but their relationship is often disturbed by conflict, violent attacks and kidnappings from Luke’s enemies, and the other problems that arise from having a superhero as a partner. The two struggle to figure out what kind of life they are supposed to have, between the vast differences in their careers. Eventually, it’s just too much, and the two break up. However, years later, at a point where Luke is ready to quit being a hero, it’s Claire who gives him the motivation to keep going.
13. She Has Saved a Bunch of Superheroes
Sure, superheroes save people, but who saves the superheroes? Claire Temple, that’s who. And superheroes are hard patients to treat, for sure: besides the fact that they don’t like having their identities revealed, they also tend to have really strange physiologies, powers, and crazy personality quirks. Luckily for the superhero community, Claire is brilliant, multitalented, and able to find innovative solutions to their wide array of problems and injuries.
Among the notable patients who Claire has treated is our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, after he was injured in a fight with Man-Thing. Unlike Luke Cage, who has a public identity, Spidey does his best to make sure no one knows that he’s Peter Parker, which makes medical visits somewhat complicated. Going as Peter would result in doctors and nurses finding rather unusual results when it came to his famous radioactive blood, and going as Spider-Man means not taking the mask off. Luckily for Peter, Claire takes care of him in full costume.
12. She Worked with the Guy who Gave Luke Cage His Powers
In the Netflix series, Claire Temple briefly works with Doctor Noah Burstein, the scientist who experimented on Luke, but this brief partnership is only a matter of emergency necessity: Luke is near-death after a couple hits from Diamondback’s “Judas” bullets, and it’s only between her medical know-how and Burstein’s scientific expertise that the two are able to figure out how to save Luke’s life.
This is a tribute to the comics, where she actually works with Burstein before meeting Luke. When she is first introduced, she works at Dr. Burstein’s 42nd street storefront medical clinic, helping him operate it. After Claire begins dating Luke, Dr. Burstein recognizes him as Carl Lucas, but chooses not to reveal to Claire any of the dark secrets of Luke’s past, or that he’s a convict. Needless to say, Claire is too smart to be fooled for long, so she ends up finding out about Luke’s past — and doesn’t hold it against him.
11. She Was Framed, Too
Getting involved with super-powered vigilantes, supervillains, mad scientists, and crime bosses tends to get a person tangled up in all kinds of crazy stuff that one might prefer not to be tangled up in, and Claire has seen the negative side of the coin many times. Like Luke Cage, Claire has also been on the receiving end of the wrong side of the law, taken in for crimes that she did not commit.
This happens when she comes across the dead body of shady Daily Bugle reporter Phil Fox, and Claire just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Claire is arrested and thrown in jail. Luke tries to speak to her, but he is refused entry into the jail, so he instead creates a distraction, scales up the wall and talks to her, swearing to find the real killer. Luckily for her, the real murderer is found, confesses, and Claire is released, with no criminal background that might compromise her medical career.
10. She’s a Divorcee
Though Claire’s longest superhero relationship has been with Luke, he’s far from the only man she’s ever fallen in love with. In the Netflix universe, of course, there’s her early fling with Matt Murdock, but the comic book Claire and Matt never hook up. Before Luke Cage, she actually has a longstanding relationship with Bill Foster, a brilliant biochemical research assistant who she meets when the two are in college. Normal enough, except that Foster goes on to work for Dr. Hank Pym, also known as Ant-Man, and he eventually acquires the formula for the Pym Particles… leading to him becoming the superheroic giant, Goliath.
Claire and Bill Foster’s college relationship eventually blossoms into marriage, but they eventually divorce, with Claire staying in New York City while Bill moves to Baltimore. This is many years before Bill went on to become a superhero. Years later, when Claire receives a distress message from Bill, who has been taken captive by the Circus of Crime, she travels to Los Angeles to save him.
9. The Claire on Netflix is an Amalgam of Two Comic Characters
Now here’s where things get a bit more complex. The character of “Claire Temple” that we see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who is increasingly being referred to as “Night Nurse” by fans, is actually a composite of two different characters from the comics. While she’s mostly adapted from the previously discussed Claire Temple character in the old Luke Cage comic books, there’s also a lot of influence from the character of Night Nurse, aka Linda Carter, who also earned the name tending to the wounds and injuries of various superheroes. This merging of characters is most visible in the changing of Claire Temple’s profession: while she’s a doctor in the comics, the MCU version is a working class nurse.
While Rosario Dawson’s character is a composite, she definitely has more in common with the comic book version of Claire than she does with Linda. But interestingly enough, it almost was the other way around. According to Daredevil showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, the original scripts actually had Linda Carter in Claire’s role, until they got word that the movies had some interest in potentially using the Linda Carter character later on. To fix this, the writers simply took the elements of Night Nurse that they liked, and added them to the character of Claire Temple. Considering how popular Claire has become, it was certainly a successful switch.
8. Night Nurse Predated Marvel Comics
Still, because Claire is the cinematic version of Night Nurse, it’s worth delving a bit into the Night Nurse character’s rather interesting history. Back in September of 1961, Marvel Comics was not yet Marvel Comics — it was actually “Atlas Comics,” and Stan Lee’s superhero renaissance was still a few months away, since the Marvel Universe as we know it kick started with the release of Fantastic Four #1 in November of that year. Back in the Atlas Comics days, the company that would be Marvel didn’t really specialize in superhero stories, and one comic they happened to release was Linda Carter: Student Nurse.
It’s worth noting that the Linda Carter: Student Nurse comic book didn’t have anything to do with superheroes, since the Marvel superheroes hadn’t yet entered the scene (aside from the Timely Comics heroes in WWII, two decades before). The comic was exactly what it sounded like: the rather unexciting day-to-day life (compared to a superhero’s, anyway) of a student nurse named Linda Carter, with fluffy, lighthearted storylines. After this brief run ended, Linda disappeared until 1972, when she was brought back in Night Nurse #1.
7. She had Two Other Night Nurse Roommates/Coworkers
Night Nurse was written by Jean Thomas, and it featured the lives of three nurses who live together and work the overnight shift at Metro-General Hospital in New York City. Aside from Linda Carter, the other nurses are Christine Palmer, who leaves her life of privilege behind to work as a surgical nurse at the hospital, and Georgia Jenkins, a working class inner city native who, on her days off, provides free healthcare services to people in her old neighborhood.
This series was less fluffy and more mature than the old Student Nurse comics, as it attempted to tackle real world issues such as homelessness, income inequality, and bad healthcare providers, interspersed with more action-oriented story devices like bomb threats. Though the comic was short-lived, it is fondly remembered, and has become something of a cult classic, with the character of Christine Palmer being brought back into the fold many years later. Christine Palmer will actually be making her way to the big screen next month in Doctor Strange, where she’ll be played by Rachel McAdams.
6. Night Nurse Was Reintroduced in a Daredevil Comic in 2004
This brings us to the point where the seeds for Claire Temple’s rebirth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were sown, and where the inspiration for incorporating Night Nurse into the Daredevil series first came from. Linda Carter disappeared from the pages of the comic books after the 1970s…until a surprise reappearance in the pages of Daredevil in 2004, when the Man Without Fear is badly injured and requires her nursing attention. Daredevil survives, thanks to her help.
Sounds familiar, yes?
From this point on, Linda Carter officially takes on the codename Night Nurse, and begins administering her skilled nursing services to the superhero community. As she believes in the heroes and their cause, she doesn’t charge, and she’s assisted in the recovery of heroes such as Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Elektra, Firestar, Black Tarantula, and more. She even performs surgery on Doctor Strange, while he monitors the procedure in his astral form. Those two end up having a romantic relationship later on, but it is short lived.
5. She was on Captain America’s Side in the Civil War
For the sake of screen time, the opposing sides in Captain America: Civil War were much smaller in the movie than they were in the comics. While the film restricts the battle to big league Avengers characters, the comic storyline involves pretty much every Marvel superhero, supervillain, and civilian character that you can think of. As the healthcare practitioner that most of the heroes turn to in times of need, Night Nurse is forced to pick a side in the battle, and she chooses to join Captain America in his fight against superhero registration, joining up with his team of “Secret Avengers.” This alliance isn’t such a surprise, considering we’re talking about a nurse who uses her skills to patch up vigilantes on the down low.
In Captain America’s resistance base, S.H.I.E.L.D. Safe House 23, Night Nurse does her work for the heroes, becoming a trusted ally in the battle against Iron Man’s pro-registration forces. After Captain America is assassinated by Crossbones, she is invited to his secret wake.
4. Claire Temple is the Heart of the Netflix Shows
So, then, the cinematic version of Claire Temple, the Night Nurse — a heroine who fuses the comic book Claire with the Night Nurse Linda Carter — is the TV equivalent to Agent Phil Coulson. Back in the early days of the MCU, Coulson was the binding glue between disparate Marvel characters, linking them together, and a key part of the first building blocks of the the world’s first cinematic universe. But even more than that, Coulson is also the voice of the audience; he’s a real person, a fan boy who keeps Captain America trading cards.
Claire fulfills the same role. While she’s also the glue that connects each of the Netflix shows to one another, what’s more important is that she’s the heart of the entire enterprise. Claire is the audience surrogate, the voice of reason, the character who says what the audience is thinking and knows how to impart her practical wisdom to the angsty, troubled heroes of Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem. Years from now, when we reflect on the success of Marvel’s Defenders shows, Rosario Dawson’s performance as Claire Temple will stand out as a big part of what made it all so successful.
3. She Wasn’t Planned To Be a Breakout Character — Rosario Dawson Was Just That Good
Looking back on the various coincidences, name issues, happenstance, and so on that led to Claire Temple’s inclusion in the first season of Daredevil, one thing that’s clear is that the writers had no idea that Claire Temple was going to end up becoming on of the biggest characters of the entire Netflix lineup. It’s pretty amazing, really; between blind vigilantes, bulletproof icons, and super-strong private investigators, a practical nurse who stands up for what she believes in has become the breakout star, in a lot of respects. Claire takes the initiative, tells people when they’re being stupid, and always rushes into emergencies even when others warn her not to. She plays a major part in almost every storyline.
The credit for this, really, comes down to Rosario Dawson’s performance. The various casts and crews have raved about her many times, and her bigger role on Luke Cage has drawn lots of praise from viewers. Is there a chance that we’ll see a Claire Temple spinoff at some point? It’s too early to say, but we’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of her in the very near future.
2. With Jessica Jones Around, There’s Probably Some Love Drama Coming Up
Okay, so we all know that the Defenders are coming, and that means that all of Marvel’s street-level heroes are going to be coming together to battle some kind of threat bigger than any one of them can handle alone (namely, Sigourney Weaver). That means Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist will be teaming up, and given Claire’s major role in all of this so far, there’s no doubt that the Night Nurse will probably have a vital role in the proceedings. The fact that she’s now romantically entangled with Luke Cage probably won’t be a big deal for Daredevil, at least; even though he and Claire had a thing going once upon a time, he’s since gotten pretty wrapped up with Elektra and Karen Page. And if Elektra does end up getting resurrected by the Hand, that’s going to take up all of his attention.
No, if there’s one person that Claire has to worry about getting between her and Luke, it’s Jessica Jones.
Aside from the fact that Claire and Luke only know each other because of Jessica, and that the last time we saw Jessica, she still had strong feelings for Luke, it’s hard to imagine that she’s going to be happy finding out about the Claire/Luke pairing. The even bigger factor here is that in the comics, Luke and Jessica end up getting married and starting a family together. While there’s no guarantee that The Defenders characters will follow the same path, the pairing of Luke and Jessica is pretty iconic, and it’s hard to imagine that they won’t end up together at some point. We’ll see.
1. Claire will be Coming Back in Iron Fist
Okay, so Claire Temple will obviously be coming back in The Defenders. It’s a given, considering how interconnected she’s been to everything else so far. But in the meantime, as everyone waits to see the first releases from the highly-anticipated team-up series, what are Claire Temple fans supposed to do?
Luckily, she’ll be back even sooner, when Iron Fist premieres this March.
No real information has been released about Claire’s role in Iron Fist so far, other than confirming that she’ll play some part in the proceedings. That’s not much of a surprise; at this point, it’d be weird if she wasn’t in Iron Fist. It’s unclear whether she’ll have more of a cameo role, like in Jessica Jones, or a big part as she did in Luke Cage and Daredevil, but she’ll be there. The very end of Luke Cage does give us a pretty big hint about how she’ll be introduced, when she grabs a flyer for a self-defense course taught by sensei Colleen Wing, Misty Knight’s best friend, who will be played in Iron Fist by Jessica Henwick.
What else do you think fans should know about Claire Temple? What role will Night Nurse play in the wars to come? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.