Luke Cage, Marvel’s third solo venture into the realm of Netflix, has garnered critical acclaim for bringing more diversity into the television side of the MCU, and it has also been praised for its bold, yet tasteful handling of social issues facing our world today. One of the show’s strongest elements, however, has been its portrayal of Misty Knight, played by Simone Missick. Knight has long been a fan favorite, and Missick recently sat down with Marvel.com to discuss bringing the character to life on the small screen. She starts off by discussing Misty’s sense of responsibility for her community:
“This is the first black superhero show on TV, and I play the first black female superhero in the history of Marvel comics and on television,” the Luke Cage star, 34, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
“She’s one of those rare people who decides to take a stand because it’s the right thing to do and not because it’s the popular thing to do,” Missick explains. “Misty looks at herself as a superhero in her community, as the only person who can protect those people.”
It’s interesting to note that Misty views herself as a superhero, especially since she has no superpowers in the show. She is driven by her sense of responsibility for her community, and it’s great to see another character who is good for the sake of being good. It sets up a great dynamic between her and Luke, especially since Luke is reluctant to fight back against the corruption in his community, even though he possesses these fantastic abilities. Missick also discussed how meaningful it is to have Luke Cage as the first black lead in a Marvel show:
“To have the lead be this big, tall black man with a deep voice and a hoodie that people admire is a powerful image for kids growing up today where so often in the media, we’re told to fear people who are big and tall and black and have a deep voice,” she adds.
Marvel has had several black characters as supporting characters in prior films, such as Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, and most recently, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther. Granted, Black Panther will be getting a solo release film in 2018, but that still gives significance to Luke Cage as the first black lead in the MCU. Missick continues along the same vein in talking about the significance of her character as a female role model in a show like this.
When speaking of the impact shows like Netflix’s Jessica Jones and The CW’s Supergirl have had, Missick has a simple explanation for their popularity: “I think people are really excited to see strong women kicking ass on TV.”
As to how the actress prepared for the role, Missick admitted that she didn’t read the comics beforehand, but she did try to read up a bit on the character’s backstory. For Missick, she used those bits of information as a way to build her own history for the character as she brought her to life for the series.
Marvel.com: To begin, how did you prepare for the role? Did you read the comics?
Simone Missick: I did not read the comics. I read some back story on Misty Knight to find out where she was from and what people identify her as. Online, on Marvel.com and on a bunch of different websites they have a history on that. But I approached Misty the same way I do any character, whether it be for a play or a short film. You just create this backstory out of your imagination so I used the little bits that I could find on her as the points in creating the constellations almost. And to me it’s more fun that way. It’s great that there are details about her that are identifiable. She’s from Harlem, she’s a cop, she becomes a detective. And then she eventually owns her own private investigations firm, but that is in the future and nothing that I really had to worry about. When you have those basic ideas like “Ok, she’s bad ass and she’s a detective and she’s a woman and she grew up in Harlem,” then you can create everything else around that like what were her parents like? Was she an only child? All those things. It kinda played into it and it was pretty cool because the writers on the show — their scripts definitely seem to line up with what I had created so it was very serendipitous in that way.
She also raved about her experience working with the rest of the multi-talented cast.
Marvel.com: What’s it like working with so many people like Alfre, Sonia, Mike and all the rest?
Simone Missick: Oh, we have the best cast…ever. It literally is like a family from the cast to the crew. And having Mike lead the show is awesome because he’s a very easygoing, gregarious, nice person, so he wants everyone to have a good time on set. He wants everyone to feel comfortable and he doesn’t approach it with ego. So if you have the number one on the call sheet behaving that way, it all trickles down so there’s no co-star or guest star that comes on that thinks, “Oh, I really shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t talk to the lead actors,” because everybody just treats everyone like they’re family. And Alfre is the greatest gift that ever could be when it comes to studying at the feet of someone who’s been doing this for 30-plus years. And Rosario the same. All of these actors are so generous and so lovely just as people that when you work with them, everybody comes to play. Nobody comes unprepared. And I have the gracious gift of working with Frank Whaley for quite a few months on the show and here’s another guy who’s been in dozens and dozens of films and he treats everyday like it’s new and he asks the same questions. Because he asks those questions and I ask those questions, you have two people who are ready to play so there’s so much of our relationship, it just came out of improv. It just came out of us coming up with stuff on the fly like, “Oh, this’ll be funny,” and we both love to insert humor into it so you can watch procedural shows where it’s like, “Well, what happened? Well, who did it? Well, where did they go?…Ok, let’s walk off.” And Frank and I are like “It’s not about the crime.” You know, the crime is important, but it’s about these two people and it’s about their relationship.
It sounds like Missick thoroughly enjoyed tackling the role of Misty Knight, and that’s good for both her, as well as the fans, as she is set to return in The Defenders, which will hit the streaming service sometime next year. What did you think of Missick’s portrayal of Knight? Sound off in the comments below!
All episodes of Luke Cage are now streaming on Netflix.