Interest in Marvel’s next Netflix series, Luke Cage, seems to just grow by the day. Fans fell in love with Mike Colter‘s portrayal of the character in last year’s Jessica Jones and are anxiously waiting for the debut of his solo series. Offering further insight into the production of the series SFX Magazine gave the show a spotlight in its forthcoming October issue.
“People sometimes get lost in the spandex of it all,” says Cheo Hodari Coker, executive producer and showrunner of Netflix’s latest comic book adap. “We focus on the drama and the human interaction in addition to the powers. It’s the opportunity to tell deeper stories.”
Telling stories about the human condition through the lens of superhero stories has been a particular strength of the Netflix set of heroes. With a thirteen episode count for each season, the audience is able to spend more time and get understand the deeper workings of these superpowered people. Who is the hero underneath it all? When asked what kind of Luke Cage we’ll be getting, Coker elaborated:
“It’s classic Luke Cage, and it’s not different from the Luke Cage in the comics. But we’re able to go places that you couldn’t necessarily go [in the comics]… Luke Cage belongs to Marvel. But they’re letting me drive the car around and they let me take it to the garage and add a couple of things to it. It’s not about reinventing the car. It’s about making it roll faster.”
The adherence to a recognizable Luke Cage, while also putting a newer, more 2016 spin on the character is heartening to hear. While a certain amount of fidelity is appreciated, a good adaptation doesn’t just copy and paste from what has already been done. The world has changed a great deal since the character was first created and many fans are saying Luke Cage is needed now more than ever. In regards to the current environment, the series is coming out in, Coker acknowledges Luke’s importance and timeliness, while also maintaining the importance of Marvel’s storytelling style.
“My main responsibility is to tell a story,” says Coker. “The fact that I get to tell a good story that’s culturally relevant is icing on the cake. I think it’s important that black artists and black writers have the ability to do that.” “Certain things happen that force Luke to use his powers to change things for the better in and around his neighbourhood,” Coker tells SFX. “One thing that [executive producer] Jeph Loeb said that’s very important about writing Marvel characters is that by and large they are not happy to have their powers. Wolverine has an adamantium skeleton that he didn’t for. Even somebody like Spider-Man is haunted by the fact that the one time he could have used his powers would have changed his family’s trajectory. The powers are a burden but with these heroes what makes them heroic is what they do despite the challenges that they have. With Luke it’s very similar. He’s haunted by certain things but at the same time he’s driven by the greater good.”
The burden Marvel’s superheroes commonly bear is perhaps their most interesting feature. All their heroes have feet of clay. Even if you can cling to walls, cast spells, or in Luke’s case, have invulnerable skin, you still have challenges to overcome. Your problems don’t go away. They just become bigger. Speaking to Mike Colter, SFX asked the leading man about how feels to inhabit Luke’s impenetrable skin.
You’re playing a guy who’s bulletproof and unbreakable. Does that affect the physicality of your performance, the way you carry yourself?
Colter: Yeah, it does. Ultimately when you’re aware that certain things don’t hurt you you’re not as timid as other people would be. [But] you’re not trying to engage, you don’t want to have conflict. Those things are actually a burden to you. If you hit someone you could hurt them, so you really have to think about things. You avoid problems a lot.
Is there anything in Luke’s character you can relate to?
Colter: I think the reluctance to be exposed in a public way. As an actor you enjoy doing what you do, but then the publicity that you have attached with this occupation exposes to you being objectified and watched. Luke Cage has that issue. I can relate to that need to have some privacy and not need to be always in the public eye.
As to whether or not we’ll get to hear Cage utter the phrase ‘Sweet Christmas!’ once again, the actor was quick to promise we’ll hear it multiple times within the series.
Do you get to say “Sweet Christmas!” again?
Colter: Oh, we’ll have enough! Appropriately placed throughout!
The first season of Luke Cage will debut exclusively on Netflix on September 30th. Until then, you can re-watch the first season of Jessica Jones where Colter first made his appearance as Luke Cage.