The third of Netflix’s Marvel-themed shows debuted this week, and Luke Cage has fans and critics entranced. As our own ModCon02 described it: “All signs pointed to ‘Luke Cage’ being another win in the already rich Marvel/Netflix partnership, and Sweet Christmas was I right.”
For me, I’m interested in the show’s success after the heated debate we had on Echoba.se about embracing diversity. Luke Cage, to me, represents the gold standard of creating a more diverse superhero universe – casting black actors in the role of black characters, in a world that totally embraces their experience.
And Luke Cage does that magnificently. As ModCon02 says better than I possibly could: “Coker and his team use Luke Cage, a character that could have been a walking cliche, to tell a story that is firmly about the here and now, but seems timeless. It’s no coincidence that Cage’s new “outfit” is primarily a hoodie. There’s a grim irony that his super-power is essentially his skin. ‘Luke Cage’ knows it’s history – the comic’s and the country’s. It understands and even respects that history, but it is not restrained by it.”
While Hollywood is keen to ‘solve’ their diversity problem by recasting white characters with actors of color, Marvel have done the correct thing here – and opened up the superhero world from the white-bread, white-washed one we were raised on as kids, to a ‘real’ world in which people come in as many different shades and styles as a hero’s spandex tights.
Now, you’d think people would be happy about this – but sadly Luke Cage is a demonstration of why we can’t have nice things. Up on Twitter, a certain segment of people are up in arms about the show because it is, in their words, ‘too black.’
I mean, I’ve already earned my badge as Echoba.se’s resident, politically-incorrect asshole – but even I just roll my fucking eyes at this.
I mean, these are the same people complaining about Hollywood recasting white characters with black actors – and I get that. But when they follow it up with this? It makes me really uncomfortable. First off, they weren’t happy with black people in roles that used to be white. Now they’re not happy with black people in roles that are meant to be black.
I mean, let’s just cut the crap here – basically the issue here isn’t whether the role is meant to be black or white any more. These people just don’t like seeing black people onscreen. Or, at least, not in leading roles, or driving the narrative.
It’s sad. It’s really, really sad. But all I can say is that thank God that Netflix ignored these naysayers and made the show that Luke Cage deserved to be. They embraced every opportunity to make the character and series shine; and did so in a way that forever added color to the traditionally monochromatic world of superheros.
With the stand-alone Black Panther movie coming up soon too, Marvel are leading the charge in showing what an exciting, diverse and rich world the MCU truly is; and I think it makes it a wonderful era to be a comic book fan in.
Long live Luke Cage!