~Matt Key

Luke Cage.

Let’s get down to it.

Most people only know him as Power Man, the smart-talking partner to Iron Fist, the other half of the Heroes for Hire, created in the blacksploitation era of the mid-70’s. He’s super strong, wears a yellow shirt with a high collar and a chain as a belt. Most people probably don’t even know that he has unbreakable bulletproof skin.

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And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with not knowing that — it’s simply an observation on the part of the author here.

So, in light of the recent casting bonanza for the Netflix show, who is Luke Cage and who are all of these characters they’re brining in?

Luke Cage, played by actor Mike Colter for the Marvel series, was created by Archie Goodwin, John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska in Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #1. He is powerfully strong and has bulletproof skin that he got from a medical experiment gone wrong.

See, he was in prison, framed for drug possession by his one-time best friend and partner-in-crime, Willis Stryker. While in prison, Carl Lucas, or just “Lucas” as he was called, also discovered that his girlfriend, Reva Connors, the girl that had come between himself and Willis, was killed by The Syndicate who was trying to get at Willis for a deal gone bad. This, of course, prompted a vendetta for Lucas —if only he weren’t behind bars. So he started doing his best to just wait it out and get parole. He did his best to be on good behavior, but the interim prison warden, Captain Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham, and a rogue guard, Quirt, hated Lucas due to his no-nonsense attitude.

When the new warden, Warden Stuart comes in, he changes things up, demotes Captain Rackham to a lowly guard and fires Quirt, which creates a vendetta in Rackham to get back at Lucas.

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The warden has a good friend, Dr. Noah Burstein, who’s been given a grant and equipment from Tony Stark to conduct a series of medical experiments to help with cellular regeneration and therefore accelerate the healing capacity of medicine. Taking a cue from Warden Stuart, Dr. Burstein asks Lucas if he’ll volunteer for the program, promising him a better chance at parole if he participates.

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Lucas agrees to the experiment, which sees him dipped into a tank of chemicals that will then be electrified. Bursting promises to integrate him into the chemical bath slowly; however, Rackham has other plans and he turns the experiment up to 11. It’s in the midst of this accident that Lucas gains his super strength and his bulletproof skin. He knocks a hole in the wall with his fists and escapes. He’s shot at and presumed dead.

However, back in New York City, he quickly discovers that he can loan his super heroics out for a price, making him a Hero for Hire, all in a bid to take his revenge on Willis Stryker, who since he’s been in prison, has made his way into The Syndicate under the name Diamondback. He’s honed his skills with knives and is very deadly with them.

With that as Cage’s origin story, let’s now take a quick glance at the castings so far.

Mahershala Ali as Cornell Cottonmouth, is the head of the organization, “The Syndicate” who accidentally killed Luke Cage’s girlfriend Reva in an attempt to kill Willis Stryker.

Theo Rossi as Alvarez and is assumed to be a street thug named “Shades,” an old prison mate of Luke Cage who goes on to side with Stryker when he makes it to the outside.

We also have Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Frank Whaley as her partner, Detective Scarfe and Alfre Woodard as a mysterious role known only as Minetta. Rosario Dawson will also reprise her role as Night Nurse Claire Temple, who Luke Cage has a romance with.

This leaves open the roles of Warden Stuart, Dr. Noah Burstein, Reva Connors, Shades’ partner Commanche, and Willis Stryker, who goes on to become a crimes named Diamondback. If they are truly staying with his origin story, keep your eyes peeled for these names.

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