Marvel's Luke Cage, set to premiere on Netflix at the end of this month, promises to continue the high standard of drama set by its predecessors, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but also to do things in its own way, too. Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker claims the show will become The Wire of Marvel television, and will focus on corrupt politics with a healthy dose of superhero antics to keep us all gripped. Luke Cage follows the titular hero after the events of Jessica Jones, as he makes his way to Harlem, where there is a new bar for him to tend and plenty of villains just waiting to be on the receiving end of Luke's unique form of justice.
From the predominantly black cast, to the hip-hop soundtrack, Luke Cage arrives on screens at a time when racial tensions run high in the United States and representation matters more than ever. After the wide promotion of the Black Lives Matter campaign on social media, and the continued scrutiny of police actions, Coker has previously declared that the world needs "a bullet proof black man."
Speaking to EW, the show's star, Mike Colter, agrees.
"We’re doing things that people are thinking about and not just playing it safe. People need to see themselves or feel like they’re being represented in a real, honest, and three-dimensional way."
Coker has put serious thought and consideration into capturing just the right tone for Luke Cage. The show focuses on the realism of modern day Harlem, passing its own commentary on the social issues the U.S are dealing with and also paying homage to the character's roots as one of the first ever leading black superheroes:
“When you say ‘blaxploitation,’ people usually think bell-bottoms and a waka waka soundtrack. But ultimately, it is black characters getting to act the same way that their white counterparts did.”
Indeed, while content with Luke Cage's part within the MCU TV realm, Coker is anxious to stress how unique the show is, saying he pitched it as "[Hype Williams’] Belly meets City of God, written by the staff of The Wire.” One of the main draws of the show for existing fans will be Colter, who became a favorite during his appearances in Jessica Jones season 1, as well as the return of Rosario Dawson as nurse Claire. However, Luke Cage's potential for some really great storytelling also holds great promise for newcomers to the franchise and returning viewers just the same.
That's not to say Marvel hasn't already delivered on that promise of great storytelling with its previous Netflix offerings. However, if (as early reviews have suggested) Luke Cage manages to neatly tie together political corruption, an unbreakable superhero, romance, humor and a true representation of race, then it could really clear the bar which has already been set very high.
Luke Cage is also said to be less gritty than its counterparts, and more grounded. Music likewise features heavily and that's something we haven't had in previous MCU TV shows; but again, something that accurately represents life in Harlem. Marvel is not afraid to shy away from political commentary or emotive issues; just take a look at the Wilson Fisk storyline in Daredevil season one or the abuse Jessica Jones suffered at the hands of Kilgrave. Yet, it seems as if, under Coker's leadership, they're really stepping into the foray here, and giving viewers something to think about.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will arrive on September 30th, 2016. The Defenders and Iron Fist arrive in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, The Punisher and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.