With time ticking down to the Luke Cage premiere, the hype surrounding the show is growing, and those that have gotten an early look have come back impressed. Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker has stated repeatedly that the series will be looking straight at today’s society, and making statements through the thirteen episode series.
In an interview with Time Magazine, Coker explains that he developed the scripts for Luke Cage with a team of diverse writers who were encouraged to develop conflict.
“I called our writers’ room the Danger Room,” Coker says. “In X-Men, the Danger Room is this place where the X-Men train and fight each other and work out their powers. Our writers’ room was majority African American—which is a rarity on television—but it was also diverse in every way. When it came to ideas, everybody had their own power. There was beautiful conflict when it came to story.”
Conflict is the base of any well-told story, but the subject matter that we are to see in Luke Cage is especially raw. Set in modern America, the story couldn’t be more appropriate among the current news cycle.
The noble hero dresses in a hoodie, a nod to Trayvon Martin and a visual argument against the assumption that a black man in such clothing is threatening. “What if you introduce a bulletproof character into a social ecology that isn’t bulletproof?” asks Coker. “How does he affect the police? The streets? People in the neighborhood who have turned a blind eye to crime in order to survive?”
Marvel could not have cast a more perfect actor to play Cage, with Mike Colter donning the hoodie to protect the people of Harlem. The availability of this role might have kept the actor from moving on to other careers.
Colter, who broke out in Million Dollar Baby and has starred on The Good Wife and The Following, turned down many roles that he felt perpetuated the same black tropes. “I didn’t know whether I was going to be successful in this business because I think you have to ignore the fact that sometimes you’re strictly a stereotype or at the very least you’re not doing anything to undo a stereotype,” he says.
Colter added that his introduction to the MCU, in the role of Jessica Jones’ lover in the first season of her show, was a refreshing change from previous interracial stories he has seen.
“I was tired of seeing interracial couples that shared a bond over alcohol or drugs or something deviant,” says Colter. “Every other version I’ve seen of that relationship reinforced this idea that there was something strange about an interracial couple. But Jessica and Luke make a real, authentic connection that has nothing to do with race.”
Perhaps Luke Cage will follow in the footsteps of Jessica Jones, which addressed issues for women in a very open and honest way, and received critical acclamation as a result. If any of the buzz surrounding Luke Cage is to be believed, it will ignite discussions of racial relations in the same way its predecessor brought forward conversations of rape. For now, we just have to wait two weeks to see how they pull it all off.
Luke Cage premieres on September 30, in its entirety, on Netflix.
Source: Time Magazine.