Warning: this article contains spoilers for Luke Cage episode four. If you haven’t gotten that far, it won’t give away major plot points, but the episode won’t be as fun as if you wait.
With the long history of Marvel Comics, there are many moments that may have worked at the time they were printed but would never fit in the modern on-screen versions. One challenge of bringing these stories to the screen is honoring the history of the comics, without bringing viewers away from the story that is currently being told. For Luke Cage, one of these details is his classic costume.
In the classic comics, Powerman wore a bright yellow shirt, open in the front, with a chain for a belt, cuffs on his wrist, and (for reasons nobody seems to be able to explain today) a tiara. In fact, the tiara is such a talking point when thinking about classic Cage, the production studio used “Tiara” as the code-name for the series, while filming in New York City. While early trailers showed us that they would give us a shot of Cage with the metal band on his head and wrists, we were not expecting the full costume, as revealed in the fourth episode of the show.
Mike Colter explained to The Hollywood Reporter that he was hesitant when he first learned that they would be showing the classic costume.
“I thought it was brilliant how they unveiled it,” Colter tells The Hollywood Reporter. “That, for me, was genius. When they said they were going to put me in that costume, I was like, ‘Oh God, here we go. But how? How?’ And I read the episode script and I couldn’t believe it. The way they did it was just so smart.”
Colter added that this moment was specifically meant to be a treat for the fans, yet they had to work it into the story in a way that made sense.
“We commented on the original costume, we poked fun at it, and we also owned what it was,” Colter says. “It was all what we needed to do. We wanted to see it but we needed to do it in a way that seemed organic but also made it seem like we were in on the joke. Like, ‘Hey guys, we’re just doing it because we know what you want.’ That’s what’s great about it.”
“You already know it’s coming. Yeah, yeah,” Colter says with a laugh. “That’s what it was. It was a slow release, pieces of information, and then you see it coming from a mile away. And it’s a hilarious costume. But when you see it, it’s still satisfying.”
However, putting the scene together was more uncomfortable than making a major fashion mistake. Colter had to be impervious to the weather, as well as bullets, to film the moment.
“It was really cold that night, we were shooting in Queens, I was barefoot, we were in someone’s yard,” Colter says. “So it was one of those things where I had been waiting to do that scene for so long, finally we got a chance to shoot it, but I was ready for it to be done. I was so relieved when we were finally done. And as long as I’m not wearing that in a serious moment, then we’re okay. We can make fun of it, we can do what we have to do and I’m all for it, but that costume is not made for serious moments.”
The moment resulted in serious laughter for many fans. Show-runner Cheo Hodari Coker added that he never considered the costume, or a more modern variation of it, for this version of Luke Cage. He had a modern message, and the classic hoodie was an important part of getting that message across.
“That never would have worked in this version,” Coker says. “Luke is all about trying to blend in. And I wanted to show that heroes can wear hoodies too. I’m taking what happened with Trayvon Martin and flipping it, showing that, hey, this man is a hero, not a suspect.”
Sometimes it feels like the Netflix version of the MCU is trying to make cosplay more accessible for the everyday person, as well. I would have enjoyed seeing more yellow on Colter, to honor the style in more modern versions of his character (though I am not complaining about the way the man looks, in any color). Were you happy with the way they worked the classic yellow shirt into the show? Or do you wish they had made Luke Cage a bit flashier, throughout the series? Let us know in the comments!