Netflix and Marvel Studios have accepted the challenge of presenting a diverse roster of characters in their television universe, with the presentation of African-American hero Luke Cage being a prime example. Marvel’s Big-Screen counterparts, The Avengers, have often drawn criticism for a lack of diversity within the casts. While some will say the race of these characters is a predetermined, unchangeable factor, others disagree, voicing there is no reason for these superhero rosters to not be a bit more diverse.
In the early summer of 2016, fans were introduced to the superhero Black Panther, an African prince who dons a super-suit in efforts to keep his home country of Wakanda safe. Fans rejoiced at this inclusion, and some critic add that it was a step in the right direction for Marvel Studios.As summer came to a close, however, Marvel took an even bigger step in regards to expanding the diversity of their superhero lineup.
Luke Cage, which premiered in September of 2016, follows the story of the bulletproof superhero of the same name. Based out of Harlem, Luke Cage has become as much of a fan favorite as he has an urban symbol. “It was awesome seeing an African hero on screen for the first time with Black Panther, but the relevance of Luke Cage in regards to being black in America makes it that much more important for me personally,” said Mesa Community College student Jake Richmond.
A shot of Cage, who as was mentioned is bulletproof, in a hoodie with countless bullet holes, was Marvel’s not-so-subtle reference towards the injustices occurring against the African-American community today. “A black man in a hoodie torn up by bullet holes, walking unscathed is one of the most powerful images I’ve ever seen demonstrated on television,” Richmond added.
Luke Cage is as entertaining as he is socially aware, which is what makes the show so important. The show is an unprecedented move in the superhero genre. Luke Cage doesn’t beat around the bush with his urban influence either. The soundtrack is filled with east coast hip-hop and soul-funk sounds. The show stands in a league of its own in regards to its social awareness, and it would not be surprising to see many major television networks follow suit.