Marvel’s Luke Cage: A Hero With a Lot of Power ... And a Lot of Pain

Michael Logan
Marvel's Luke Cage
Netflix

He comes pretested and pre-approved. Mike Colter scored star-making reviews and a rabid fan following when he played erotic superbeing Luke Cage in Marvel’s Jessica Jones—who can forget his bed-busting sexcapades with leading lady Krysten Ritter?—and now Colter is playing Luke in a series of his own.

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But the 13-episode Marvel’s Luke Cage (set several months later) won’t find its towering protagonist relying on his industrial-strength skin, which is tough enough to shatter knives and stop bullets. Instead, Luke is sweeping up hair in a Harlem barbershop.

“The Marvel superhero world spins on the message ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ only Luke didn’t get the memo,” Colter says. “He’s a widower running from his past and trying to lay low.” That’ll last about, oh, two episodes, until a personal tragedy—which Luke could have prevented—sends him back into crime-fighter mode. His archfoe: Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali), a psychotic club owner who makes no bones about his villainy (“Jesus saves; I don’t”) and is using his cousin Mariah (Alfre Woodard), a city councilwoman, to expand his evil empire.

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One thing hasn’t changed since Jessica Jones: Luke’s still a man-whore. “The guy is in a lot of pain and medicates himself with one-night stands,” says Colter. “The panties fall easily for him, and that allows for a real disconnect. Luke wants a solid relationship. He wants to settle down. But he can’t open up. There’s a lot of vulnerability under that indestructible skin.”

Marvel’s Luke Cage, Available Friday, September 30, Netflix.