FULL DISCLOSURE: I am still butthurt that Netflix (and Disney) canceled Luke Cage. So there’s that.
Season 2 delivered more than an in-depth character, more than one amazing villain in Bushmaster, more than a cliffhanger ending that made you salivate for more. Show runner Cheo Hodari Coker learned from his mistakes and made the show better. Look at this quote to highlight the passion and the purpose from Coker in this must-read article in Vulture on Black Hollywood and Power Man’s place in it:
“Maybe it comes from being a critic, because I’ve criticized before, so I understand critics, for better or for worse. The conventional wisdom was the show fell off after episode seven in which Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth is killed off. And one of the most critical voices, in a great way, was from Angelica Jade Bastién at Vulture. She wrote these episodic recaps, and some of them were scathing, but they were so beautifully written.”
One of the things she wrote about was, ‘I wish they had spent more time trying to imagine who Cage is as a man, instead of just as a superhero.’
The second season was better, stronger, and more complex than could be imagined because it started with the brain behind the brawn. And now it’s dead. Hopefully, Disney and Marvel will do what’s right and continue telling this important story.
Before Coker brought Mike Colter to the screen, he was largely a TV actor with some repeat roles in The Following (FOX), The Good Wife (CBS), and Agent X (TNT). When Coker cast him, it took some digesting. Could this guy carry that role? Could he tell the story important for kids and adults alike? Could he really be Luke Cage?
Yes, he can.
And now, look at him in anything else and you expect him to be bulletproof. Colter personified the man and the myth of Power Man. He–and Coker–deserved better. Nothing is sacred or permanent in Hollywood. We know that, but Luke Cage’s place is permanent in the impact he has created for black superheroes and even villains.
Today’s BHM profile follows:
Name: Carl Lucas
Creators: Archie Goodwin, Roy Thomas, John Romita Sr. (writers), George Tuska (artist), Marvel (comic)
1st Appearance: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972)
Backstory: Growing up in Harlem around the wrong people, he ends up on the wrong side of the law for something he didn’t do. At Seagate prison, he becomes the subject of some questionable lab experiment leaving him for dead. A good person at heart, Lucas becomes a hero for hire and meets some interesting friends along the way.
Powers: Bulletproof skin, Superhuman strength
Medium: Netflix did the right thing listening to Cheo Hodari Coker. Luke Cage could have been a good movie, but the story is so much better than two hours of CGI and fisticuffs could have unfolded. The story of Carl Lucas was a multifaceted one of family–his, a Godfather-type hubbub with Cottonmouth and his ne’er-do-well politically inclined cousin, and a Jamaican generational connection that gave us easily one of the best villains of 2018. This proved to be a story to tell, people to meet, and a hero to discover. Thank you, Netflix. (And now, suck it Netflix for taking it away.)
Impact: Before the aforementioned and ineptly cancelled TV series hit the airwaves, Luke Cage and Power Man were relatively inconspicuous in the grand scheme of Marvel’s global takeover. And then Daredevil and Steven DeKnight took over the nerdverse by storm. Rumors began floating about The Defenders. Then came Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, followed later by The Punisher. Luke Cage had an opening. Cheo Hodari Coker had a muse. And we all had a hero for hire. Finally. It was beholden to canon and we loved him–and Mike Colter–for it.
Culture: During the height of Blaxploitation, Luke Cage became the first black superhero featured as both the good guy and lead of a comic book. (Not for nothing but Black Panther first appeared with the Fantastic Four in 1966.) Although movies like Sweet Sweetback Baadasssss Song (and yes, I had to count all those letters) were chock full of stereotypes, they were also full of one other thing the public wasn’t accustomed to seeing in film — leading black people.
A few brave souls at Marvel stood up and spoke up by putting Power Man in print. Because of that effort, other people may have felt empowered to put their efforts in other places, like a busy bus station, a restroom without a label, or even a school known for being homogenized. You think the “bulletproof skin” was meant to be only metaphorical? Sweet Christmas.