Today, Netflix is dropping the Luke Cage Series.
A Black superhero? I can’t wait to watch it.
BY ELIANA DOCKTERMAN
A bulletproof man hides out in Harlem.
The wrongfully convicted ex-con with superhuman strength wants to keep a low profile but soon finds himself caught between a trigger-happy crime lord and an intrepid police officer. Despite his misgivings, he uses his body to shield the neighborhood from stray bullets in the battle between cops and criminals.
This makes Netflix’s newest protagonist, Luke Cage, an inherently political hero. Born in the pages of Marvel comics in 1972 during the boom in blaxploitation films, the man immune to bullets has taken on new resonance in the era of Black Lives Matter.
Superheroes don’t usually lend themselves to pointed social commentary. But the executives at Netflix and Marvel knew that bringing their first black-superhero show to the small screen would require more than awe-inspiring CGI explosions. In his first meeting with the streaming service, creator Cheo Hodari Coker won the job by pitching the series as an examination of Harlem, “like what The Wire did for Baltimore.” In order to achieve that goal, he would need to assemble his own team that would be able to capture the vibe of the New York City neighborhood.
Netflix greenlighted Luke Cage (it premieres Sept. 30), and Coker has kept his promise to Harlem. He tapped music producers Adrian Younge and A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad to score the show and recruit artists like Faith Evans and Raphael Saadiq to perform at the villain’s fictional nightclub. He instructed the prop master to carefully choose a selection of books for Luke’s bedroom, including a copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. He gathered a diverse set of writers to conjure barbershop debates over the Knicks’ lineup.
Left to right; Creator: Cheo Hodari Coker envisions a superhero show that fuses politics with hip-hop, set in Harlem; Alfre Woodard plays Mariah Dillard, a corrupt Harlem politician who sees Luke’s powers as an opportunity; Mike Colter stars as the smart and suave hero, Luke Cage; Simone Missick is Misty Knight, a cop who has a love hate relationship with the vigilante hero; Ali Shaheed Muhammad, one-third of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, co-created the show’s score; Composer Adrian Younge teamed with Muhammad to create a jazz-, blues- and hip-hop-inspired score