San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Author: Ariel Landrum

“The world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker declared at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Eager badge-holders crowded Ballroom 20 to meet the hero-for-hire Luke Cage at Marvel’s Luke Cage panel. Among those in attendance were moderator and Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb, actors  Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Frank Whaley (Rafael Scarfe), Simone Missick (Misty Knight), Mahershala Ali (Cottonmouth), Theo Rossi (Victor “Shades” Alvarez), Alfre Woodard (Mariah Dillard), and Marvel’s CCO Joe Quesada.

The cast quickly dives into the development of their characters. Audiences fell in love with Luke Cage when he was introduced in Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Despite his charisma, Colter said, “Luke has his problems… he’s hiding his things,” which fans weren’t privy to because they experienced him through the point of view of Jessica. Viewers who watch Luke Cage will learn “there’s so much more back story” to the protagonist. 

“To see a woman who is her person, she’s not the wife, she’s not the girlfriend.. she’s absolutely her own thing,” Missick gleamed to all the Misty Knight admirers, “is a gift every day.” Any Marvel Cinematic aficionado can confirm that female co-stars are little more than stage props to beef up their male superhero partners, whereas the Netflix shows take time to foster all the acts seen on the screen. Knight, a strong, self-assured cop, will be introduced undercover, “out of her work clothes,” where she quickly establishes rapport and becomes equal to Luke on and off the streets.

The Marvel TV Universe has continued to provide fans with a dynamic variety of villains.  The same will be expected for this series. The comic book Origins of Cottonmouth depicts a king of the drug trade in New York with sharpened teeth, often referred to as “a snake in the grass”. Intriguing attendees, Ali describes his TV version of the antagonist as “having depth.. and going about things in a way that is different from the common person.” Rossi declared Shades as “the Littlefinger of Luke Cage,” describing the character’s duplicitous nature, and his relationship to Cottonmouth.

Separating itself from the rest of Marvel’s made-for-Netflix series is the drama’s extensive musical roster. Naming each episode after a different Gang Starr song, and a viewing experience that mirrors the highs and lows of a memorable vinyl record, Coker joked that the show is a “Wu Tang-ification of the Marvel Universe.” New footage screened at the panel even included an iconic clip featuring Cottonmouth assaulting someone in front of a Notorious B.I.G. portrait. This notable scene, along with Cottonmouth’s personality, were all tributes to the music icon by Cocker, who was one of the last people to interview him before his demise.

Surprising guests and receiving the loudest applause was actor Jon Bernthal, who portrays Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher. Bernthal confirmed that work would soon begin on the spinoff for the anti-hero, but no explanation was given if Frank would be a part of The Defenders. Devotees were also treated with Iron Fist footage, a green light for the renewal of Daredevil, and The Defenders teaser trailer. Until those future works, binge-watchers rejoiced as their learned Luke Cage will premiere in September 2016.

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