With Daredevil’s Success Comes Luke Cage’s Great Responsibility

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We’ve seen moments like this before. LeBron James. To Pimp a Butterfly. The Rains of Castamere episode of Game of Thrones. Sometimes, rarely, the expectations do meet the hype. When Daredevil dropped last week, we geeks were pretty hopped up on whatever Hell’s Kitchen was cookin’, waiting to watch #MurdaMurdock put in that work. Most of us thought it would be good. Some Easter eggs here, some cool action there. Maybe a couple of radar sense fight scenes for us to go, “that was cool.” So I was pretty surprised when it instantly became the best comic book adaptation on TV. Many of us at BNP had given that crown to first-year Flash while recognizing it was still on CW and had limitations that made it a good comic book TV show and not a particularly great TV show sans qualifiers. Yeah, Barry Allen, I hate it had to be you man. Daredevil dropped thirteen episodes on a Friday night like Beyonce and was telling everyone else to Watch The Throne by Sunday morning. The fact that people are still talking about how much they love Daredevil even after Game of Thrones debuted its 5th season two days later is a testament that we’re not fuckin’ around here.

[quote_right]”I’d say Daredevil went Dark Knight in its content, but it actually out Dark Knight-ed, Dark Knight.”[/quote_right]And really, Netflix hasn’t been fuckin’ around with us for a while now. Their mix of original and British studio collaborative programming has been putting numbers on the board for a few years at this point. Still, as enjoyable as House of Cards is to watch with your ability to reason completely numb, I expected Daredevil to be it’s comic book equivalent: on-the-nose and often cheesy dialogue, nonsensical plot movement, but gorgeous to look at with a few can’t-miss characters and intrigue abounding. Daredevil went a different path though. See, your average Gotham and Arrow viewer wants it one way, but it’s the other way. I’d say Daredevil went Dark Knight in its content, but it actually out Dark Knight-ed, Dark Knight. There’s real and visceral consequences for its dark and foreboding tone. One that finds a way to ground a show with a premise where a blind man is an unbelievable melee fighter that can “hear” what kind of fracture you have when you breath.

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So what’s next? This is Netflix, so it’s not like folks will be crowding around their TV twelve weeks from now to figure out what happens between Fisk and Murdock in the last episode. That shit is done, b. Cats cancelled their Saturday night movie dates to write Daredevil fan fiction and spec scripts for season two. We won’t be getting that (season two that is) in the very near future because there are four other shows in the “street level” heroes series coming. Expected next in line is the AKA Jessica Jones installment and I’m really interested to see how “other” they will make Iron Fist (hopefully with an Asian-American as our friends from NOC have put forth), but you know what I want to see. Luke to the…Cage to the… Netflix should have never gave us Negroes hope.

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Mike Colter, who you might know from The Good Wife or who me and about 14 people with an XBOX know from Halo: Nightfall, will be Sweet Christmas himself both in his own show and as a guest appearance on AKA Jessica Jones (naturally). If you aren’t a big comic book fan, then you might not know much about Luke Cage or that he has had a resurgence of late. After years of unbalanced portrayals, sometimes stereotypical, sometimes completely non-consequential in the Marvel Universe, Cage has found himself a nice nest in comic book relevance. Though pre-empted by Brian Michael Bendis’ use of him in various Marvel stories, the Mighty Avengers book that began its run in September 2013 under the pen of Al Ewing helped solidify Cage as an important hero again. Cage was now leading his own Avengers team (that was mostly filled with POC), being prominently involved with the most recent crossover events, and had the uniqueness of being married and the father of a young child while also being a hero.

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[quote_left]”Luke Cage could very well exist on something like the CW or Fox as your friendly neighborhood Black Dude with a really big smile and four cheesy catchphrases an episode. But that’s not where he needs to be.”[/quote_left]Even so, I don’t know that the announcement of his specific TV show resulted in any euphoric celebration outside of me being thrilled to have a Black superhero on TV. But now that I’ve seen what product that Netflix is pushin’, I fully expect Luke Cage to be that WMD, all day, ayeday. Luke Cage could very well exist on something like the CW or Fox as your friendly neighborhood Black Dude with a really big smile and four cheesy catchphrases an episode. But that’s not where he NEEDS to be. Luke Cage, former gangbanger, enduring warrior of pain, the man’s who’s skin can withstand NYPD warning shots or defensive stances if he reaches for his wallet, needs to be uncensored to be appreciated. But what phase will we get of Luke? Will it be mostly origin stories? His criminal past? Orange is the new Luke? The grand experiment he goes through to give him his gifts? Or will those be reserved for flashbacks as we jump into the Heroes for Hire era? Either way, if Netflix looked at Daredevil and thought, “You know what would we could run with? Compound fractures and beheadings!” then I’m scared (read: excited) to see what they will do with the dude who can take an immeasurable amount of damage and has the ability to throw a full grown adult a full New York block.

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But the fight scenes and possible gore are the smaller and insignificant part of this. While sort of using a half measure, Daredevil tackled gentrification and rent-controlled living as a narrative and social problem throughout its season. So will they go there with Luke Cage? The large and intimidating Black man with a troubled past in New York who can’t be killed by bullets? Will we be patting Netflix on the back a year from now for its take on modern racism and the dangers of being a large Black man the same way we have congratulated them for highlighting the evil motivations for forcing people out of their homes as a means to profit this year? It’s easy to remain skeptical at such a proposition, but I just don’t know how Netflix keeps its street cred and completely ignores the implications that Luke Cage in a “real world” brings. I didn’t have this kind of giddyness just a few days ago. But I have seen the truth. I’ve been to the comic book TV mountain top. The air is a little thin, and they wi-fi is sketchy up here at times, but I’m not coming down until a full season of Luke Cage joins me.

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

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