After enjoying the peak Blackness of Luke Cage’s SDCC teaser trailer in which he kicked ass in nothing but a Black hoodie, Cage has returned in full cinematic glory via the Netflix trailer that dropped yesterday morning.
And let’s just say that it was worth the wait.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, here it is:
For those of you who have seen the trailer, here are some thoughts I wanted to expound upon and share:
1. Luke is out here representing the quintessential, reluctant [Black] hero.
The reluctant superhero is not a new figure in fiction. And it most certainly is not a new figure in superhero comics.
TV Tropes defines this figure as one who “didn’t want [their powers], magic, curse, or whatever it is that was foisted upon them”. They resent being saddled with “the responsibility to save the world”.
They want no parts of the fuckshit.
Peter Parker is a reluctant hero…depending on the series. Being a reluctant hero has been The Thing’s, well, thing since the dawn of time. Sometimes, even the quintessentially super Superman also morphs into this border self-loathing figure.
Of course, while all these heroes vary on the superhero spectrum, they do have one thing in common: They all tend to be White and male. As are a majority of protagonists in comics.
This is why I am looking forward to Luke’s debut on Netflix. Points for much-needed MCU diversity aside (you know, the kind where the Black/Brown character makes it to the end of the season without dying and the kind where the Black/Brown character actually gets their own arc without being marginalized by some other non-Black/non-Brown character), I am very interested in the nuance that Luke’s Blackness is going to bring to the reluctant hero trope.
You think The Avengers et al are getting heat for superhero-ing now? Wait until Luke Cage touches down. I foresee that it will be similar to what we always see with Spider-Man. Despite Peter’s (as well as Miles) best efforts to save civilians around New York, he remains on the [NY] media’s shit-list (shoutouts to J. Jonah Jameson) as well as the shit-list of various folx on the NYPD (this is why I was campaigning so hard for Miles to enter the MCU, for that extra nuance, but alas).
Now, take that Public Enemy #1 aesthetic and multiply it times 3209483284984032984023 because that’s what it would be like trying to save the city while Black (I mean, breathing while Black will cause that too, but I digress).
2. To be frank, Luke is the [Black], Every Man.
Piggybacking off the Reluctant Hero trope, we also have the Every Man trope. In it’s most benign form, it materializes in a character like the MCU’s Hawkeye. I’d argue that dude is a reluctant hero himself, but also functions as the everyday, normal dude with his family who’s just trying to get by. Yet, he understands that his very normal presence is central to team [in this case, that would be the Avengers] synergy and team morale.
In its most aggressive form, you get characters like Captain America/Steve Rogers and Superman/Clark Kent. Special kind of Every Men. Though they are both superpowered in their own way, Steve maintains–always–that at the end of the day, he’s “just a kid from Brooklyn” (granted, it has now been aggressively gentrified, but I’m rambling), and Clark wears his Smallville, Kansas upbringing on his person as proudly as he wears that “S” on his chest.
This proud boasting of their humble origins, their honesty, their dedication and similar attributes make them “all-American” in this regard.
Now, the thing about this is, Black folx and all other non-Black folx don’t get to be “all-American”. But it makes sense, seeing as all of us have to hyphenate anyhow.
In any case, I can see Luke serving this Every Man purpose. Prior to him having his powers thrust upon him, Luke was just your average Black guy from Harlem. And even after his powers have been thrust upon him, Luke will still be that Black guy from Harlem.
And that matters.
3. I see we’re paying homage to Luke’s Blaxploitation origins.
Unlike play-cousin Black Panther, Luke’s origins are firmly planted in the Blaxploitation Era (in film).
Kickstarted by movies like Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) and Shaft (1971), the Blaxploitation film arrived right on time for Hollywood in a time where Hollywood was about to collapse on itself due to, arguably, lack of creativity and, you know, the invention of the TV.
In any case, Hollywood did what it always does when it’s in trouble–cash in on melanated folx and their demand for more representation on-screen. Blaxploitation films served that purpose in the 70s, but somewhat at a price: stereotypes. Some would argue bad ones.
Obviously, because of this line of thinking and because Marvel had the nerve to debut Luke Cage in 1972 (most certainly to ride the wave of these movies), I’ve peeped a lot of people downplaying Luke’s Blaxploitation origins in the last couple of months. And if I am to be frank, that is trash.
You cannot separate Luke from his Blaxploitation origins and you should not want to. Even if you believe that history to be “unsavory”, Luke would not exist without that history (and this is crucial, considering the 1970s Black Power movement that was happening parallel to his debut at the time). I’m all for improving on that history. Evolving it. Morphing it. That’s fine. But erasing it? Trying to sanitize it?
4. Claire has returned.
Claire was one of my favorite parts of Daredevil Season 1 and what little I saw of Season 2 (that in itself is a long story); so when I saw that she was going to be making an appearance in the upcoming Luke Cage series, I got. So. Freakin. Excited.
Other than this being a smart move on Marvel’s part (having Claire/Rosario Dawson appear in all their Netflix series’ creates the interconnectedness that Marvel is known for), I’m also stoked about this because it appears that Claire is going to play a much more substantial part in Luke’s attempt at superhero-ing than she did in Daredevil.
And since I’m all about peak Blackness, I’m here for it.
5. The music is as Black as expected.
Upon hearing that A Tribe Called Quest would be scoring the Netflix series, I already figured that the soundtrack for the upcoming series was going be supa hot fire, but upon hearing that Method Man, Faith Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Charles Bradley, The Delfonics, Method Man, Jidenna, and more will be included on the soundtrack as well, I must say that I was not expecting to be slapped with this much Black….even in the year of Black.
In any case, the trailer shows us glimpses of this super Black music and I am expecting no less from the series.
6. I already know the imagery/cinematography for this show is going to be great. Starting with that image of Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) standing in front of Biggie.
Marvel and Netflix have been playing no games when it comes to the cinematography of these shows. From Daredevil all the way to Jessica Jones, Marvel/Netflix have served us iconic image after iconic image (with many of these images paying homage to their comic book counterparts pre-adaptation) and I’m expecting the same treatment for Luke Cage.
Of course, Marvel and company give us a glimpse of the greatness in store by slapping us with that image of Cottonmouth standing in front of that Biggie portrait.
If that is not iconic, Blackity Blackness in the making, I don’t know what is.
7. Misty Knight is here and I live.
I’ve been obsessed with Misty Knight for a while. From her days paling around with Luke to her team up days with Coleen Wing, Misty is quintessential Black Girl Awesomeness, which is always topped off with a lush Afro or twist-out.
That said, I was super excited to see her in the trailer for that reason and I’m even more excited to see her because we get to see more Black women shine in the MCU as actual, main characters. Beside’s Rosario Dawson’s Afro-Latina Claire, it’s been dry in the MCU for Black women and I’m banking on the addition of Simone Missick’s Misty Knight, Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, and Danai Gurira’s Okoye to change that.
8. The cast is peak Black.
Mike Colter. Alfre Woodard. Simone Missick. Rosario Dawson. Mahershala Ali.
Need I say more???
9. And so is Harlem.
My biggest problem with all these damned NYC-based shows is that NYC has the nerve to be melanated as hell and all these shows act like Brown and Black people do not exist.
Girls (presently) and Friends (formerly) are gross examples of this, to the point of satire.
Luke Cage looks like it’s not gonna be like that. And I’m grateful.
10. Hopefully, this is enough to tide us over until Black Panther comes out.
Except that’s a gahtdambt lie because we won’t see T’Challa again until 2018.
….And that’s all I got for now. Until the show premieres, of course.
What were some of your questions/comments? What did you think about the trailer? Are you as pumped as I am? Let me know in the comments below!
Images From: Marvel, Netflix, Knowyourmeme.com, Imgur, DeviantArt, Tumblr, Mashable