Marvel Comics’ first Black superhero to have his own comic book title, has become the first Black superhero to lead an on-screen Marvel production. Netflix brought the world something it’s never seen on Friday [September 30], with the release of “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” 44 years after the character made history through Marvel’s 1972 print publication. And followers of the series will note that some aspects of Cage’s identity have been modified to fit the times; namely, his bulletproof hoodie.
“It’s a nod to Trayvon, no question. Trayvon Martin and people like him. People like Jordan Davis, a kid who was shot because of the perception that he was a danger. When you’re a black man in a hoodie all of a sudden you’re a criminal,” series star, Mike Colter, told the Huffington Post. With recent backlash over the shootings of Black men by police, giving rise to protests from students in school and sports, as well as from visible figures in the worlds of politics and art and entertainment, the timing for Luke Cage’s story to be told, is as perfect as it’ll ever be. Colter recalls working on the filming a couple of years back, and even then seeing the conditions Black Americans faced at the hands of the law, as a sign that the time is right for pop culture to receive a superhero like Luke Cage.”When we were filming this, there were different things going on. Eric Garner, the policemen, were acquitted. No one was brought to justice. There was no handing out of any sentence,” he said. “There are a couple of other things that happened during the time we were filming. We were watching the news, and it was always someone being shot who was unarmed, and there is no justification for it. It’s mind-boggling.”
One only needs to revisit the context of the 1960’s, and themes covered by the original Luke Cage comic, to realize that Cage is still fighting the battles he was decades ago. As the story-line went back then, the character was a boy who survived the crime-ridden streets of Harlem and left his life as a gangster behind him, before being set up on a drug charge and thrown in prison. While behind bars, Cage consistently fell victim to the brutality of corrections officers, and eventually associates himself with a scientist who makes him his muse, until one failed experiment ultimately backfires, leading him to acquire his powers. Back then, Cage wore a headband, buttoned down shirt that exposed his chest, and a pair of jeans. The 2016 version is styled in such a way that brings Luke Cage’s story up to date with the era of Black Lives Matter.
“I can’t imagine anything a Black man would want to be more right now than bulletproof,” Colter says.