Netflix's upcoming Luke Cage solo series looks to be as dauntlessly gritty, politically charged and socially aware as viewers have come to expect from the streaming network's other Marvel properties. Daredevil and Jessica Jones have respectively tackled some compelling subject matter to date, with these shows becoming a platform to explore in-depth the social issues that superhero comic book characters and their adversaries have traditionally served as metaphors for.
As personifications of ever changing social movements, superheroes are evolved to represent the era of each new adaptation. Luke Cage's current manifestation has come a long way from the character's flamboyantly costumed, 1970s Blaxploitation roots - so to what extent do the character's past depictions effect his actor's understanding of and preparation for the role? Well, Mike Colter has now discussed his experience of tracing Cage back through Marvel comic history.
Luke Cage's solo series is part of an ambitious multi-pronged enterprise of interlinking Marvel projects from Netflix, following New York-based characters within their own individual series in addition to featuring them in the team-up miniseries, The Defenders. Luke Cage was introduced in Jessica Jones season 1, exploring the complicated relationship between these two characters and allowing Cage to display his strength and impenetrable skin prior to his stand-alone debut.
Season 1 of Luke Cage picks up after the events of Jessica Jones season 1, as Cage looks for a fresh start in Harlem and begins embracing his power and hero identity. So far, Netflix have released a series poster and trailer that showcase the style that will give the series its unique characterization - and themes that mark these individual but connecting characters apart within their own vehicles. Colter is joined by Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Simone Missick (Ray Donovan), Alfre Woodard (State of Affairs), Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy) and Rosario Dawson (Jessica Jones, Daredevil) here.
Colter as Luke Cage is featured on the cover of SFX magazine's current issue - and here, the actor discussed researching his character's history through the Marvel's comics in which he features (hat tip to CBM). Colter was asked about his familiarity with the comics prior to his involvement and this is how he responded:
“Not really. I have done some reading since getting the job because it's important to understand the history and the mythology of it. I'm catching up. I really enjoyed the Alias comics because the Luke Cage character there is more up to date. I read some of the original comics and they're fun to read but it doesn't give me much because our character is so modern and up to date. Just the time, the era -the language, was different in the 70's, the people were different, everything was different. So the problems were different, because society was so different. The things that a superhero like me would deal with back then are not the same things that I would deal with now.”
The corresponding article (only available online in scanned form, right now) also includes a couple of new images from Luke Cage season 1, including the character standing on some rubble that clearly used to be a home - something that will no doubt have fans speculating if Cage's strength could be enough to cause this kind of destruction.
Considering the current social climate of racial political issues, it would be amiss to portray a black superhero with bullet-proof skin, within this time period, without allowing the series to act as a social commentary of these incredibly relevant and important issues. This is arguably evident of the creators thinking by the character's symbolic gray hoodie that nods towards the Black Lives Matter movement as a visual clue of the show's intended political tone. Luke Cage has always been a political character, and this is a modern era, with modern problems, just as Netflix's chosen style of a darker Marvel adaptation, exploring more sinister elements of humanity, is an example of contemporary change within an evolving genre.
It is clear from Colter's comments that this is how he views his role and has taken a flexible approach to garnering inspiration from Cage's original comic book origin. Netflix have become known for their fearless approach towards exploring civil rights issues among other controversial subject matter, so it will be interesting to see how a character such as Cage is allowed to develop within these parameters. The possibilities are certainly tantalizing.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will premiere on September 30th, 2016. The Defenders and Iron Fist will follow in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, The Punisher and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.
Source: SFX Magazine [via CBM]
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