There wasn’t a lot of diversity through the early decades of comic books. There were more Martians than nonwhite Earth races fighting criminals.
That began to change in 1972 when the Marvel trio of Archie Goodwin, George Tuska and John Romita Sr. came along and created Luke Cage, a black hero who would star in his own comic. That was a major turning point because more often the case with any minority hero for Marvel (and DC Comics) was that they would get introduced in an established comic book.
The introduction of “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” is one of the biggest milestones in comic book history.
And now, Mike Colter gets to help increase the minority ratio when it comes to television shows based on superhero comics with his portrayal of Luke Cage. The series, “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” launches on the streaming service of Netflix Friday, Sept. 30.
Colter is taking the importance of bringing a black superhero to the TV world very seriously.
“It’s important in the landscape of television, and also I think globally, as far as symbols and people, when they look at black culture, it’s important that we have positive images,” Colter says.
“We’re just trying to tell a story about a superhero who’s going through the same kind of changes that other superheroes, who are not black, go through. But because we are in small numbers, and there’s not as many of us, we’re kind of looked at differently, in a different perception.”
The story of Luke Cage starts with an experiment gone bad that leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin. He’s a fugitive looking to rebuild his life in Harlem. The TV version of the man-mountain of a hero played by Colter was introduced in the Netflix series “Jessica Jones.”
Cage is part of the offbeat line of comic book heroes that Netflix has embraced. They started with Daredevil, a costumed fighter who is blind. Next came Jessica Jones, a hero with as much attitude as strength.
Colter’s Cage is a man who has spent a huge chunk of his life running from his powers. He finally flexes his muscles when he’s pushed into a fight. Luke Cage is indestructible but Colter is still able to play the character with vulnerability because all of the people around him are very easily hurt or killed.
That reality made Luke Cage keep moving, but he’s finally reached the point where he’s a man tired of running.
“You can’t truly become a man if you are constantly running and looking over your shoulder and hiding from something,” Colter says. “When he stops, he becomes a very good person to have as a friend because he has great power but he’s not abusing it.”
After this season, Luke Cage will team with Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist (next on the Netflix lineup) to be part of the “Marvel’s The Defenders” series. Think of them as the Avengers but without a good public relations team.
Also new on Netflix
“Mack & Moxy” is a 12-episode series which combines animation, live-action and music to introduce younger children to important issues like literacy, emergency preparedness and autism inclusion. Each segment was developed with a charity partner such as Easterseals, Save the Children, American Red Cross and Feeding America.
Celebrity guests include Keegan-Michael Key, Josh Duhamel, Kal Penn, Dean Norris, Eva LaRue and Hank Azaria.
The episodes will be available at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, on the streaming service.
Marvel’s Luke Cage
- 12:01 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30, Netflix