What makes Carl Lucas, or perhaps better known as Luke Cage, such a unique comic book hero? Well, for starters, he’s one of the original African-American superheroes. In fact, comic book writers Archie Goodwin and Roy Thomas created the character out of growing popularity of the blaxploitation genre. He debuted in the summer of 1972 under the title Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. Through his well-received debut, he was given a textbook comic book costume that would fit the tone of the ’70s. Corny? Very much so, but it was more than appropriate for the time period.
Actually, if you’ve seen the Luke Cage series on Netflix, you’ll remember that that version of the character briefly wore that same costume. Of course, he also tossed it aside almost immediately, but as a comic book fan, it was a cool nod to the origins of the character. I actually really want to talk about that show, because honestly, it was seriously awesome. Sweet Christmas. Hearing the first live-action adaptation of Luke Cage say his signature catchphrase was music to my ears. And seeing that first iconic shot of that thug throwing that big haymaker to his face was a moment Marvel fans will never forget. I mean, he just stood there and took it while the thug’s hand snapped in slow motion. Our man Luke Cage is the indestructible underdog hero for the common man.
And as for Mike Colter, the man who played Luke Cage in the Netflix series, what is his future for Marvel? I would like to think that he’s returning to reprise the role. However, based on the rumors that the Netflix Marvel heroes are being rebooted, along with Kevin Feige himself saying that he never really watched those shows, it looks like Mike Colter’s Luke Cage might forever be a thing in the past. I believe his take on the character had a good run, since the premiere of the show back in 2016, to its untimely cancellation in 2018, the Luke Cage show ended with its best season and a very gripping cliffhanger. But, like the rest of the Netflix Marvel shows, we’ll never get to see how that all plays out, and that’s a shame.
Oh, and we can’t forget his appearance in The Defenders show, even though I think many fans did forget about it. Yeah, it wasn’t all that epic, but the fight scene and even the banter between Luke Cage and Iron Fist was gold. I am a staunch advocate for Marvel pursuing a Heroes for Hire series for Disney+, as Luke Cage and Iron Fist share one of the best bromances in Marvel Comics. And of course, one of the greatest moments in season 2 was seeing them fight together. That is something we Marvel fans really need to see again, regardless if Mike Colter and Finn Jones reprise their roles. It would be the best way to reboot the characters.
The thing is, I truly believe that Mike Colter captured the best characteristics of Luke Cage. From season one, he was just your typical average Joe just trying to get by. He really had no clue on what to do with his powers and just wanted to be left alone. That didn’t last too long, however, as he soon crossed paths with the sinister crime boss Cottonmouth, played by Mahershala Ali. And yes, we can all agree his time as Cottonmouth was criminally cut short. That was rather disappointing, especially since Diamondback, the villain who came after him, wasn’t nearly as intriguing. However, I did dig the personal history between the two characters and how it evolved into a superhero/villain rivalry.
And then there was season two. Boy, just try telling me that Bushmaster wasn’t an awesome villain. The fact that he could go toe-to-toe with Luke Cage and still survived the end of the series got me excited. Oh, and Luke also became a club owner in the end. Would his newly-obtained power corrupt him? We’ll never find out. That’s sad, but I still would very much like to see Mike Colter return as Luke Cage.
First of all, Luke Cage is one of those characters who has a unique legacy on comics. He is the first African-American superhero to star in his own comic book series, but he’s also far different from other black heroes like Black Panther or John Stewart. Think about Black Panther is a monarch who rules over and entire nation. John Stewart is no king, but he’s a space cop responsible for protecting the universe itself. Luke Cage, on the other hand, is none of those. What he is resembles the common man standing up for those who don’t live in luxury or have the same opportunities and privileges like others do. Luke was always fighting heavy crime in Harlem, a more crime-infested area than what Spider-Man and Daredevil have to deal with.
But similar to Black Panther, Luke Cage represents a strong African-American hero who is more relatable. When he’s not doing his Heroes for Hire business, he’s acting as a social worker for the troubled youths of Harlem. Heck, the man even refused to work for Stark Industries at one point because in his eyes, the people living in Harlem needed him. He wasn’t just there for their protection, but to be an example of what underprivileged black men can truly be. Luke Cage, just like every other Marvel hero, has made mistakes, but he always chose to take it upon himself to make up for those mistakes. That’s the message he tries to sell to the young African-American community in Harlem. They can always be more, even if they stumble along the way.
Now does Marvel need Mike Colter to return as Luke Cage? Maybe not, but in my opinion, he really captured the best characteristics of the character. Just go back and watch his arguments with Claire Temple or Danny Rand. They’re all related to the challenge young black men go through in the more underprivileged areas in America and how others are ignorant about it. I hope he comes back, but even Mike Colter himself is doubtful. He’s finding a lot of success with the new series Evil, so at this point, it’s all up to Marvel. I say give the man a call.