What with Luke Cage season 1 being scheduled to premiere this September, Iron Fist being in the midst of assembling its primary cast, Daredevil season 2 having just incorporated Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) into its larger ensemble, and The Defenders crossover mini-series now confirmed to begin filming by the fourth quarter of 2016, the Marvel/Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in the midst of a rapid expansion. As such, it's more important than ever that these TV series should be able to stand apart from one another in terms of their genre elements, while still retaining the grittier and more adult tone that's now been firmly established for the Marvel/Netflix side of the MCU (for the sake of tonal consistency).
Fortunately, that's exactly what the Marvel/Netflix series have done so far and look to keep on doing in the future. Daredevil season 1 was very much a mob crime drama that featured superheroes, while Jessica Jones season 1 was similarly an edgy neo-Noir drama/thriller that just happened to revolve around people with super-human abilities. While Daredevil season 2 integrated more mysticism and mystical elements into its proceedings (paving the way for comic properties such as Iron Fist and Doctor Strange to join the MCU), Luke Cage season 1 - with Mike Colter reprising the title role following his debut on Jessica Jones season 1 - looks to be something else altogether.
Luke Cage head executive producer and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, who also wrote the first two episodes of the show's freshman season, spoke with the press about his Marvel/Netflix TV show at the red carpet premiere for the fast-approaching theatrical release of Captain America: Civil War. Here's how Coker described Luke Cage season 1, per EW:
“It’s very sophisticated. I mean, it’s got a ’90s hip-hop vibe, but it’s really forward-thinking. We have [composer/music producer] Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad [of A Tribe Called Quest] doing the scoring for us. We have a lot of different musical appearances, but at the same time, we’ve got the Marvel action. We’ve got drama. I would like this to be, I mean, I know this is heavy but, The Wire of Marvel television, because we really deal with a lot of different issues.”
The Wire is, of course, David Simon's landmark HBO series - one that also launched the careers of such lauded character actors as Idris Elba, Dominic West, Michael B. Jordan, and Michael Kenneth Williams, among many others - examining issues related to Baltimore's inner-city drug scene and law enforcement agency over the course of five critically-acclaimed seasons that cemented the show's reputation as one of the best dramatic programs to ever air on TV. Coker comparing Luke Cage to The Wire suggests that the former shall likewise deal with some heavy subject matter of its own. That's something that has not only been further suggested by the show's teaser trailer and leaked set photos, but also the fact that Marvel's Luke Cage comic book property has a long history of wrestling with hot-topic social/political issues of any given time in history. This goes back when the Luke Cage character was created in 1972 (as a mean to tap into the popular Blaxploitation entertainment movement of the time).
Colter, who was also at the Civil War red carpet event, added that the Luke Cage series will aim to be contemporary - not just with respect to the subject matter and style, but also how the show utilizes Marvel comic book elements like Cage's iconic yellow shirt:
“We were trying not to be on the nose. We’re going to give all the fans all the things they want. But we’ve got to bring it up a bit and step into the current time. So we’re going to make sure everybody’s happy, but don’t expect a yellow shirt every day. Let’s put it that way … We brought it to mustard. We started there. We knocked it down a bit. Not so bright.”
Coker, who comes from a background of having worked on dramatic and/or crime genre fare like Southland, Ray Donovan, and Almost Human - not to mention the fact that he wrote the 2009 Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious - reads as being very much the right storyteller to handle the task of bringing the Luke Cage world - as well as the show's Harlem setting - to life as part of the MCU in a way that won't make the property feel out-dated or backwards-thinking, as it integrates a "hip-hop vibe" into the "brand" of Marvel TV and Netflix's street-level superheroes. He and Colter will be further helped along the way by the talented cast that includes Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2) as the villainous Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, Alfre Woodard (State of Affairs) as Stokes’ cousin Mariah Dillard, and Simone Missick (Ray Donovan, Scandal) as Missy a.k.a. the bionic-armed vigilante Misty Knight.
Who knows - if all goes well, Luke Cage could indeed wind up being known as "The Wire of Marvel Television" in more ways than one.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will arrive on September 30th, 2016. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist, and The Defenders on Netflix have not yet been announced.