Marvel has always had a connection to the streets of New York City and Netflix’s partnership with Marvel has made it a gritty reality. I have always been a fan of Marvel and their use of New York as a character in itself. Growing up I loved reading the exploits of The Punisher, Cloak & Dagger, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Power Fist and countless others. Even in comics like the X-Men back in the day, they were New Yorkers at heart and it bleed through when they had down time between missions.
Coming from a small town in rural Maryland, these tales of the grim and dirty streets of NYC in the ’70s and ’80s gave the Marvel books are very real yet surreal feel. It was the one thing that separated Marvel from DC in my comic collecting world. Where in DC brought you tales from alien worlds, Marvel showed how alien our own backyards could be. Instead of Earth conquering super villains, Marvel showed us that real super villains patrolled the alleys and street corners of Anywhere, USA. This once was a theme shared between Marvel and DC. Titles like Batman, Question, and Mike Grell’s Green Arrow, but Batman’s popularity has catapulted him to a universal stage.
When Times Square became a family destination and ceased being a haven for peep shows, hookers, and drugs, Marvel comics began to take a turn as well. Gone where the days of wanton violence on the streets and albeit, that is great but it does take a toll on story telling. Soon characters like the Punisher became globe trotting in their vigilante ways and took on a spy like feel. Spider-Man got wrapped up in clones and reached more into the Sci-Fi bag of tricks, and the other less popular characters either folded into team books or disappeared all together.
All that being said, Netflix and Marvel has prided themselves on making New York a character again. They have done it so masterfully with the tones and themes of their series’ Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and their soon to be released Luke Cage. The beauty of these titles is that you can’t really nail down an era that they are in. They are timeless in their portrayal of New York. One moment you are wrapped up in the nostalgia of a ’70s comic, the next a character pulls out a cell phone. Somewhere deep down you say “Yeah, that’s right.” while you chuckle to yourself. Also their use of recurring characters like Claire Temple make it feel like a living breathing comic set within the living breathing background of New York City.
Luke Cage feels like a story in between times. Every character seems nuanced and inspired by certain eras, either that be the ’70s, ’80s, or the ’20s with the speakeasy type feel of nightclubs. It shows that everyone is three dimensional and not just a product of lazy 21st century storytelling. I’m not saying all new movies are lazy but sometimes the themes and tropes feel like it. I say all of this sight unseen but with the pedigree Netflix and Marvel have laid out I’m not worried. Mike Colter has proven himself to be one hell of an actor with his previous portrayal of Cage in Jessica Jones so that alone is reason to be excited for Friday to get here.
Enjoy the trailer.
Luke Cage protects the streets on September 30, 2016