Marvel Studios has been developing the big screen side of their cinematic universe since Iron Man was introduced in 2008. In the years since, the MCU has extended to include 12 films, two television shows on ABC, and two series on Netflix. Next year will see the launch of the Marvel’s Phase 3 with Captain America: Civil War as well as the introduction of Doctor Strange. Additionally, Netflix's corner of the MCU will grow to include a second season of Daredevil and the standalone Luke Cage series.
The titular superhero, one of four that will team up for Netflix and Marvel's Defenders series, was introduced in the recently released Jessica Jones, played but Mike Colter. But Luke will go on to star in his own Netflix series, which was developed by showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and is currently in production in New York City. Now, with two other Marvel/Netflix series already available to fans, Colter recently spoke about how Luke Cage will differentiate itself within the MCU.
In an interview with Collider, Colter talked about his introduction to the MCU on Jessica Jones as well as building the character of Luke through his appearance on the series before going on to Luke Cage. Colter explained that moving the location of the series to Uptown, as opposed to Midtown, helps to give Luke Cage a different feel than Jessica Jones especially, and presumably Daredevil as well. But, Colter said he was worried about the character of Luke maintaining a consistency across the two series:
"It’s unique and daunting. I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of material written for me. The first show was written for her and from her point of view, so it was something that I was concerned about because, at the time, we didn’t have a showrunner for Cage and we didn’t know what his storyline was going to be. I didn’t want to have a complete reboot of the story. I didn’t want to start in one place, and then come in and be like, “Is this the same person?” But then, I realized that luckily the showrunner (Cheo Hodari Coker) had seen some of the footage of Jessica during the process and he could get a feel for where Cage was and, from there, start the writing. Ultimately he wrote it in a way that felt right. It felt like it was just expanding on who he was already."
Of course, the MCU has been criticized before for failing to maintain consistency in character development across installments with different directors. But, as Colter explains, Luke wasn't the focus of Jessica Jones, which leaves more room for the actor and Coker to further develop the character in Luke Cage even though he was already introduced. Additionally, it seems Coker will have crafted the upcoming series with Luke's role in Jessica Jones in mind, which should help to create a consistent portrayal of the hero.
As for how Luke Cage will be compared to to Netflix's other established Marvel series - both of which were met by widespread critical acclaim - Colter said simply that each series is "different and unique" in their own right and, "They’re not really comparable." Colter attributes these differences to Luke Cage drawing from a variety of inspirations, and following distinctive formats:
"I feel like they all have their own story and their own thing that they’re doing, and they’re not going to be compared to one another, except for the fact that they are in the same genre. Jessica’s storyline is so different from Daredevil’s storyline. Daredevil’s storyline is so different from mine. There’s a social aspect involved with Luke Cage, there is a criminal element involved, and there is a procedural element involvement. We focus on a variety of different things. I think it will be a surprise. I don’t know if we’ll be taking things to the next level because Jessica did such a great job. I don’t know what to expect, as far as the response, but I know it’s going to be different."
Certainly, Luke Cage will be compared to Daredevil and Jessica Jones, as Colter says, because they exist in the same universe and follow similar premises of Marvel heroes living in New York City. However, compared to Daredevil, Jessica Jones managed to accomplish a different feel and storyline throughout its first season, so it seems likely Luke Cage will be successful in standing on its own as well. So far, Marvel, Netflix, and the showrunners have proven their ability to craft compelling, realistic, and entertaining dramas from the Heroes For Hire, and fans can likely expect another series along those lines in Luke Cage.
Daredevil season 1 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 and Daredevil season 2 will debut on Netflix in 2016. Release dates for Iron Fist and The Defenders on Netflix have not yet been announced.