Before the first season of Jessica Jones hit Netflix last November, fans were still rather cautious concerning the series. After all, not only was it following the well-received first season of Daredevil, a dark series in its own right, but nowhere near as dark as the material of Alias which Jessica Jones was based, but it was also setting up Mike Colter as Luke Cage – a character that would lead the third of the five Marvel series developed for the streaming service. Of course, once the show was finally released, it went on to surpass expectations, quickly becoming not only a fan-favorite, but a critical darling as well. While the fantastic writing and expertly constructed story played a major part in the series performing as well as it did, it’s hard to deny that both Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and Colter (Cage) also played a significant part in carrying the show.
In a recent interview with the folks over at Marvel.com, Colter reflected back on his time on Jessica Jones, and how it prepared him to lead Luke Cage, while also briefly discussing the upcoming The Defenders mini-series. Colter also talks about Luke Cage, and how it’ll vary from the comics in ways, but also try to give fans some of what they may want from the series.
For Colter, taking the time out to read the comics that these shows will be based on has proven to be improtant to his process. Not only has he taken the time to read through some of the ’70s comics featuring Luke Cage, but he has also been carving out time to read over Alias, in which Jessica Jones was based.
“I had to do a lot of reading,” he explains. “I’m doing the ALIAS stuff and then reading some of the [‘70s comics] just to figure out [the] backstory, who his villains were in his storyline, and how he became who he was. I think when we started with ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones,’ [we] stayed pretty close to the comics and what they pulled out of it was very nuanced characters that allowed you to keep a lot out. You didn’t say a lot but at the same time, it spoke volumes because people were drawn in trying to figure out why are they doing what they’re doing, how are they interacting?
“For instance, we had the hookup scene, me and Jessica, there was so much unsaid but at the same time, you could tell that there was something that was there. And when it’s over, [you] have these conversations, where you go, ‘Oh, that was great!’ and you start talking about what you did and how you did it, but ultimately, we didn’t talk about anything and she went her own way and that’s that. That’s kind of the awkwardness of life sometimes. You do these things and you go, ‘Whoa, I don’t know if I should have done that,’ and then you walk off and go your own separate ways. I think that’s where we, as a show, are unique, and I think that’s what’s awesome about our characters.”
Unlike with the other stars, Colter had the chance to debut in a series prior to leading his own, giving him time to not only become familiar with the world Marvel is creating on the Netflix side, but also spend some time with his character before leading his own series. This is something the other stars haven’t been able to do – although it’s still possible that Danny Rand will make his debut in Luke Cage as the series is still filming. For Colter, he liked having that chance to have a “trial run” of sorts before going straight into filming on Luke Cage.
“It was funny, because I kind of knew when we did the chemistry reads with Krysten,” Colter reveals of a “Marvel’s Luke Cage” series. “We already knew that Luke was going to have his own show, but we needed to introduce him [in ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’], because it’s hard to tell the stories individually without bringing them together, and it made sense. It was a nice warm-up, because you’re not the primary character, so you’re sitting there just trying to think about your character as it pertains to the central protagonist. I liked having that. That was a very unique thing. I think it rarely happens, especially when you know you’re going to have your own show.
“Most of the time it happens, people do a show, and you go, ‘Oh, this character’s kind of unique,’ and they want to bring them forward, but here, I knew that was going to be the situation. I thought it served to make me better. I think it served to make the show better and as far as being different [between shows], it’s not that different, because I took a three week break and then came back and started filming again; that’s just what happened. And we used the same crew members–almost 90 percent of the people who filmed ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ came on to film ‘Marvel’s Luke Cage,’ so it was almost like everything stayed the same except there was no Krysten, it was just me with a lot more scenes and working almost every day.”
As for what he’s most excited about when it comes to Luke Cage, Colter is most excited for fans finally getting to see this character fully brought to life – something most have waited a long time to see happen. He does go on to state, however, that fans should know there will be some changes. Don’t expect this to be the Luke Cage from the 70s as it’ll be a more modern version of the character.
“I think what I’m excited about is the chance for fans to see this character that they’ve been waiting for,” he offers. “I’ve met so many fans along the way, over the past few months, over the past year, and their excitement has kind of been intoxicating. It spreads, and it’s one of those things that before I started the project, I felt like I really wanted to do this character justice and I would enjoying playing this character and trying to figure out who he was, but now, I feel [a weight] in a sense that the fans have so many thoughts and expectations.
“I don’t think they’re going to get everything that they want, but I think our vision is very clear of what a modern-day version of Luke Cage is in 2016 and it’s not the version, obviously, from 1972, but it’s very timely. He’s very current and I think he’s got a very clear, distinct voice for the modern generation. That’s what I’m most excited about, how they connect and jibe with what he feels. And hopefully, he can represent a lot of what they’re anticipating to be current topics and what they want to explore.”
Luke Cage, which is currently filming in New York, does not have a release date at this time, although a summer premiere date is expected. For now, you can catch Mike Colter as Cage in the first season of Jessica Jones on Netflix.