Marvel’s Luke Cage is unapologetically black and I absolutely love it. Created during the Blaxploitation era, Luke Cage seemed destined to become a character that was going to be left to the wayside until a modernization of the character took place in the early 2000s. The result was a Luke Cage that dropped the bullshit stereotypes (and that costume) and made him a superhero that can be taken serious.
From the opening scene at the barbershop, it felt like I was home. I have had that exact conversation with countless people, countless times. And for the record: Phil Jackson > Pat Riley. What seals the show for me is seeing the Biggie poster on the wall at the antagonist’s club. Any show that has a poster of the greatest rapper of all time is automatically a great show in my book. Lucky for me, Luke Cage has a lot more going for it.
Let us take a moment and talk about the black girl magic that is on display. From Claire Temple to Black Mariah and to Misty Knight (who should take on a larger roll soon) the female leads in Luke Cage are outstanding. It was refreshing to see women of color help lead a show without falling into cliché rolls.
With all due respect to King T’Challa, Luke Cage is the hero that I needed to see. Though his superpower is as unrealistic as it comes, Luke resonates with me in a way that other superheroes have failed to do. Luke is presented as someone who is reluctant to step into his destiny. He does not want the spotlight but he knows that he must embrace it to help Harlem and avenge Pops. He is running from his purpose but as we all know life will always find a way to bring your purpose into focus again.
Stepping into destiny is something that we all struggle with. As a black person it can be especially uncomfortable and difficult because of the barriers and systems that are in place to hinder our progress. In today’s world the black body is often treated as target practice and taken advantage of, the black mind is discredited and belittled, and the black soul is cursed and condemned. Luke Cage dives into these topics at full speed and refuses to take its foot off the gas. The end result is that we all learn that even a black man in a hoodie can be a superhero.