Luke Cage Trailer Analysis: What We Learned

We took a close look at Marvel's Luke Cage trailer looking for bits of Marvel Comics history and clues about the show's future!

After that cool SDCC teaser, Marvel’s Luke Cage Netflix series finally unveiled a full length trailer to give everyone a better idea of what’s in store when it arrives in September.

Here it is in case you haven’t seen it yet:

Please note, that I’m not going in order or frame by frame to describe stuff that you’re seeing. This is mostly in any order that makes sense to me.

Also, the song that plays over roughly the first half of this trailer is “Walk on By” off of Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul album. There is honestly not a better album you could spend the rest of your day listening to.

Okay. I have to point this out. Even though we’ve already met Mike Colter’s Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and that earlier teaser, any time your first shot of a superhero in something involves an automobile, it can’t help but recall Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938.

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Here, have a look…it’s not quite the same thing, but it’s a fine way to establish that your hero is stronger than just about anybody and can’t be hurt.

Now, consider this, Luke Cage’s powers of unbreakable skin and absurd physical strength are basically all that Superman had going for him in 1938, as well. And the earliest Superman stories showcased him very much as a hero concerned with protecting common people from low level criminals and corrupt officials. He wasn’t quite a “neighborhood” guy like Luke Cage, but he was very much a champion of the people.

That whole “you have my word, I’ve got you,” is basically a cooler version of something earnest that Superman would say. Anyway, I’m a huge fan of the early, Golden Age Superman stuff, and it’s quite possible that these parallels are accidental, especially since Luke has always been primarily concerned with local issues. I think it’s great, regardless.

The Origin Story

So, Luke Cage’s actual origin has remained pretty mysterious since we met him on Jessica Jones. Is this show going to tie his origin into those horrible experiments that produced Killgrave? Will it solve the IGH mystery?

But here’s the very basics. Luke Cage used to be known as Carl Lucas, and he ran with the wrong crowd. After pissing off said wrong crowd he ends up in jail, where he’s subjected to experiments. Now, whether this scene…

…is a flashback to Luke’s “Carl Lucas” days is unclear. His origin story isn’t tied to Cornell Stokes, but for the purposes of expediency, it could be. Anyway…

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There’s something about a superhero emerging practically naked from a chemical bath wearing headgear and assorted other tech that makes me think of poor Logan in the Weapon X program. Of course, Luke Cage’s lab-bound origin pre-dates any that were told for Wolverine (who had to wait 20 years to get a proper origin story).

But also, that headgear and those bracelets look like, well…

Here’s another possibility: the comics said that this was one of many attempts to duplicate the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. While these Netflix shows are very good about not getting too involved with the intricacies of the movie continuity, this would be a good, convenient way to tie those things together.

The scientist we briefly glimpse may or may not be Dr. Noah Burnstein, the conductor of said experiments.

There’s one other tie to his origin, as well…

Luke is reading Walter Mosley’s Little Green, about hardboiled detective Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. What’s interesting about Little Green and how it ties into Luke’s origin is that in the previous book in that series, Rawlins endured a car accident and went into a coma. It’s in Little Green that he “returns to life” similar to how Luke abandons his previous life as a gangmember in order to become a “Hero for Hire.”

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The Villains

Here’s Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, and this image makes him look pretty reptilian and snake-like. Cottonmouth first appeared in Power Man #18 in 1974, and he’s one of Luke Cage’s most notorious foes.

That Biggie portrait is based on the cover of the December 20, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone. The photo was taken by Barron Claiborne.

And here’s Cornell hanging out with Alfre Woodward’s Mariah Dillard, known to Marvel Comics fans as Black Mariah. Like many Luke Cage villains, she deals in drugs.

So, Shades is a character with a publication history as long as Luke’s, dating all the way back to Hero For Hire #1 in 1972. Something tells me that they won’t get around to giving him the laser-blasting sunglasses the character ended up getting in the comics, though. It’s probably for the best.

Misty Knight

Here’s Simone Missick as Misty Knight, a character who has been kicking around the Marvel universe since 1975 when she first appeared in Marvel Premiere #21. While the comic book Misty is notable for her bionic arm, it looks like we’re going to meet her pre-cybernetics on Luke Cage, and the show will likely play out her “origin story” over the course of its run.

Here’s a look at her comic book counterpart…

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Tony Stark designed that arm, so if they’re looking for an excuse to get a Robert Downey Jr. cameo into one of these things in the future, that’s the way to do it.

After her time with the NYPD, Misty eventually went into business for herself as a PI with her partner, Colleen Wing. Expect to see lots of Misty and probably Colleen in Iron Fist and hopefully The Defenders. In fact, considering that she recently starred in a comic book series called The Fearless Defenders, we can consider her inclusion a safe bet.

The Rest

We can say with 100% certainty that Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple isn’t Night Nurse (it looks like that’s now happening over in the Doctor Strange movie). Claire did indeed have a romantic relationship with Luke in the comics, and they already demonstrated some chemistry during the first season of Jessica Jones. Also, remember in Jessica Jones that Claire was getting a hard time from one of her supervisors? Looks like she transfered out of Hell’s Kitchen.

She’s definitely got an expanded role in this, since Sonia Braga is playing Claire’s mother, Soledad.

The bullet-riddled hoodie is some powerful symbolism. It recalls the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin and it’s absolutely no accident that they’re using this to such powerful effect here. 

We saw more of this hallway fight in the first teaser (which was beautifully set to ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”). Daredevil Season 2 really tried to outdo its season one hallway fight with a stairwell one, whether this turns out ot be a massive tracking shot carnage fest like those remains to be seen, but I rather like the idea of Marvel’s Netflix series making these sequences a recurring theme.

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That’s WJBP, a fictional local TV station in Marvel Comics. So I have to ask…is that Megan McLaren from the Thunderbolts comics?

We’ll learn more when Luke Cage premieres on September 30.