- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Luke Cage from the Marvel Cinematic TV series. The mainstream version can be found here: Luke Cage (Marvel).
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|“||People are scared but they can't be paralyzed by that fear. You have to fight for what's right every single day, bulletproof skin or not. You can't just not snitch, or turn away or take money under the table because life has turned you sour.||„|
|~ Luke Cage.|
|“||You can't burn me, you can't blast me, and you definitely can't break me. You wanna test me? Step up. I'm right here. I ain't going nowhere. You know where to find me. I am Harlem, and Harlem is me.||„|
|~ Luke Cage.|
Luke Cage (birth name Carl Lucas), is the titular protagonist of the Netflix web television series Luke Cage, one of the main protagonists of The Defenders, the tritagonist of the first season of Jessica Jones, and a minor character in the third season. He is the son of James Lucas as well as the half-brother of Willis Stryker who, while he was still serving as a policeman from Savannah, Georgia, was wrongfully convicted for a crime he did not commit and sent into Seagate Prison, where he met and fell in love with therapist Reva Connors who tried to make his time in jail easier.
During his time inside prison, Lucas was then subjected to an experiment by Noah Burstein to save his life after Albert Rackham tried to kill him, leaving Lucas physically enhanced with superhuman strength and seemingly unbreakable skin. After he escaped from his prison, he changed his name and then moved to New York City, marrying Connors who agreed to protect him, opening up a bar named Luke's and living in there until Connors' death seemingly due to a random bus crash.
He was portrayed by Mike Colter, who also played Jameson Locke in the Halo series. David Austin and Clifton Cutrary portrayed the character younger.
Luke was originally named Carl Lucas, being the son of Father James Lucas and Etta Lucas, and the half-brother of Willis Stryker. He is a former policeman from Savannah, Georgia, who was wrongfully convicted into Seagate Prison, where he met and fell in love with therapist Reva Connors. During his time in prison, he was subjected to an experiment by Noah Burstein to save his life, leaving him physically enhanced with superhuman strength and seemingly unbreakable skin. After he escaped from his prison, he adopted the name Luke Cage and moved to New York City, using his superhuman strength to protect innocents from the forces of evil. He married Connors and lived in New York City until her death seemingly due to a random bus crash.
Months later, Cage came across private investigator Jessica Jones during the course of an investigation and started a relationship with her, but he discovered that Jones was involved in the murder of his wife due to the influence of Kilgrave. Following his encounters with Jones and Kilgrave, he moved from Hell's Kitchen into Harlem in order to build a new life, working for Pop. However his life became more complicated due to the actions of Cottonmouth, whose henchman Tone killed Pop, starting a war between the pair which only ended when Cottonmouth was found dead.
Blamed for Cottonmouth's murder, Cage was forced to go on the run, hunted by his ally Misty Knight and his former friend Willis Stryker, who returned to tell Cage they were brothers before attempting to kill him. Eventually Cage defeated Stryker but he was still arrested by the police to continue his original sentence. After he served his time, he joined Jessica, Daredevil and Iron Fist in the superhero team known as the Defenders.
|“||Mmm-hmm. Everybody talkin' about Luke Cage like he's Jesus. Got magazines callin' him the Bulletproof Black Man with Barack's easy smile, Martin's charm and Malcolm's forthright swagger. Mmm. For the sisters, he's a sumptuous, dark roast to savor. Brown-eyed handsome man of their fantasies. And for the hard rocks, he's the ghetto bogeyman of their nightmares. Luke Cage makes conventional cop work irrelevant. Harlem's worship of Luke Cage has reached golden calf proportions. Luke Cage is soul brother number one!||„|
|~ Luke Cage as described by his father, James Lucas|
Keeping a low profile, avoiding altercations that might attract suspicious or police activity and generally remaining as normal a person he can be, Luke Cage tends to be aloof, mysterious and sometimes cold due to having to remain as physically and emotionally distant as possible to keep his his tragic and violent past from catching up with him in the present. Whilst attempting to lead a normal life, in some situations like running his own bar in Hell's Kitchen or in Harlem, Cage is capable of being sociable and genial but ultimately makes few friends on a whole. His choice to fight crime was only due to Pop's death, as he was guilty over his striving to lead a normal life leading to someone close to him dying.
Beforehand, Pop had to refer to the debt Cage owed him for keeping his secret to get him to help Chico Diaz. Also, he strove not become too exposed lest his past as Carl Lucas be revealed and he'd be imprisoned yet again. Viewing his abilities as a curse, Cage dreads to use his super-strength and durability, that is unless the situation is absolutely necessary, as he only "protects [himself] and what's [his]". This mentality is evident when he fights off several opponents in his bar, unknowingly revealing his abilities to a group of patrons and when he agreed to find Antoine Grier for his sister. Jaded as he is, Cage is a good man at heart and a loyal friend to the few he has.
Cage also loved his wife, Reva Connors dearly as she was the only thing during his time at Seagate that gave him hope and kept him sane. When she was killed, he was said to have become obsessed over discovering how it happened. He was even dragged out of the MTA by eight guards when he angrily confronted the administrator there, Serena Grier, to find out more about the crash and she was unable to calm him down. When confronting the man (who supposedly) killed Reva, Cage, blinded by love for his wife and rage, reveals his super abilities with the full intention of murdering him, although he did have enough restraint to calm himself down from attacking Jessica Jones when it was revealed she was the one that killed Reva but scolded her quite harshly over this confession.
Upon discovering that Reva was aware of the experimentation at Seagate and also recommended him to the experiment that gave him super strength, Cage is deeply disturbed, claiming the memory of Reva was now ruined but he still loved the idea of her. He was very protective of his Hell's Kitchen bar, Luke's due to it being the only memory of Reva he had left, keeping it clean and protecting it from damage. When Kilgrave had him destroy his bar, leaving him with no real connection to Hell's Kitchen, Cage left to live a new life in Harlem. He has engaged in relationships with other women after Reva such as Gina, Jessica Jones, Misty Knight and Claire Temple but he still loves his wife even after her death. Despite this slight promiscuous side, Cage treats women with utmost respect as Knight was flattered by the way he looked into her eyes rather than breasts whilst staking out Cottonmouth wearing a low-cut dress
In battling criminals, Cage is confident and humorous due to knowing that he cannot be injured or killed in combat or by guns. Whilst usually quiet, such as during his attack on Crispus Attucks, he is not above a sarcastic or witty comment. When Zip and several other criminals were holding up the Lin's Chinese restaurant, Cage reprimands Zip for his harsh tone of voice and disrespect towards Connie before fighting them. Similarly when confronting Domingo Colon at his boxing ring and Colon's goons drew their guns on him, Cage only reacts by saying that "[they] hadn't heard of [him]" and stating dryly that "[he] was tired of buying new clothes" after being shot by them. According to Claire, he is corny due to his constant one-liners and humorous remarks. Cage often destroys firearms when given the chance, either after or during a fight, sometimes even before combat begins.
Due to gaining his powers by accident and doing his best not to use them, therefore not training himself how to use them, Cage does not entirely know the limits of his own abilities which has led him to break bones, sending enemies flying into the air and through walls and land almost-fatal punches. He even attacked a large group of opponents with a sofa and threw it at a gunman, though it missed and crashed out a window instead. Fortunately, he has not killed anyone but this is by Cage's own restraint as murder will get him back into the police system, eventually creating a line that Luke Cage is Carl Lucas and will be imprisoned yet again. He acknowledged that while he would want to not have to use restraint, it would kill his opponents if he did not when warning Zip and his men not to fight him. One way he limits the amount of damage he does to his opponents is slapping them unconscious.
Cage does not tend to classify himself or his actions as heroic, though on several occasions he has displayed the willingness to kill such as ambushing Charles Wallace whom he thought had killed Reva. Also, when a wounded and dying Rafael Scarfe revealed that he killed Chico Diaz, Luke began strangling Scarfe to death without any emotion on his face until Claire Temple reminded him that he was not a killer. When confronting Turk Barrett on ratting out Chico and inadvertently leading Tone to shooting and killing Pop, he spared his life despite threatening to crush him and then nearly crushing a dumpster with Turk in it to get him to reveal Diamondback's location before leaving him trapped in it. This murderous side is prominently evident whenever he loses emotional control which causes Cage to become carelessly destructive with his super-abilities to anything or anyone around him. An example of this is when he destroyed Noah Burstein's entire barn upon learning that Reva was included on his accident, seemingly not caring if Burnstein was caught in between his rampage.
Unlike the rest of New York's vigilantes, such as Daredevil and Spider-Man, he does not have a secret identity or costume and his hero work is seen in the light of day amongst Harlem's citizens, something that gets noted when he fights crime as a Defender alongside Daredevil. Although initially remaining discrete whilst planning to bring down Stokes, he eventually revealed his identity and what he was doing after surviving Cottonmouth's assassination attempt on his life to prove his lack of fear thereof and to inspire others to move forward the same way Pop did to him.
When deciding to keep helping people more, however he considers a costume but Claire Temple encourages him to remain in the light as too much in Harlem already happens in the shadows, with the unsaid addendum that most of these shadowy acts are criminal in nature. Seeing a normal man stand up would give hope to its citizens rather than just a symbol of fear for its enemies. With inspiration from his friends, Cage gives up his secretive lifestyle to finally do some good, becoming a "man of the people" figure who isn't afraid to be seen in the light of day, openly fighting criminals such as the like of Cottonmouth and Diamondback. Cage also has a fondness for basketball and reading, with his favourite genre being detective stories.
Despite foregoing his former identity, Cage still has some qualities of his personality associated to the like of a son of a preacher. He has a dislike for cursing (as a reverend would) and he kept Pop's swear jar after his death to keep his memory alive and forced anyone who sweared in his presence to add money. He even salvaged it from the wreckage of Connie Lin's restaurant when Cottonmouth destroyed it due to the emotional connection of his dead friend. In addition most of Cage's favorite songs are censored due to being heavily profane by nature. The alias of "Luke Cage" was also derived from his favorite bible verse that his father taught him.
Powers and Abilities
|“||Yo, I'm Luke Cage. You can't burn me, you can't blast me, and you definitely can't break me. You wanna test me? Step up. I'm right here.||„|
|~ Luke Cage|
Artificially Enhanced Physiology: Luke Cage underwent an experiment and came out with heightened physical abilities, most noticeably his amazing strength and durability. The experiment was meant for the creation of artificial skin for burn victims with a CRISPR process to fuse a subject's DNA with another, foreign DNA (abalone shell) to gain its attributes, specifically to genetically enhance the durability, pliability, and healing properties of human epidermis. His skin cells were bonded with hydrogen covalent bonds at the exact point of acidity, temperature and saline concentration as abalone shell.
According to Claire Temple, Luke's epithelial cells are simultaneously super elastic and energy absorbent; the cells that line his organs are stuck together, but when she tries to pull them apart, they snap back together. After his second cellular treatment to remove Judas Bullet shrapnel, Claire theorized the abalone shell on his skin was strengthened. Cottonmouth has compared him to Captain America after viewing his powerful performances of protecting Harlem.
|“||"He handled a 400 pound tire like it's nothin'."
"Human beings shouldn't be able to do that."
|~ Michael Smith and Jemele Juanita Hill|
- Superhuman Strength: During a fight in his bar where different opponents attacked him, Cage effortlessly tossed them aside and overpowered them with one arm. He is able to punch and dent the auto body of motor vehicles with his fists. He was able to match Jessica Jones in strength, and push her back when she attempts to subdue him. His strength allows him to easily rag doll, lift, drag and send normal humans flying. Cage can tear through steel like tissue paper, break bones with a swift kick, punch through solid brick walls, crumple guns in his hands with ease, knock a person unconscious with a slap to the head, kick down almost any door and easily lift massive concrete blocks and heavy machinery, such as washing machines and refrigerators. In addition, his strength has allowed him to jump several feet in the air over a bar stand while he shielded Misty Knight from gunfire. Despite his strength, he is not invincible and can be overpowered by normal humans in large numbers, as eight guards managed to drag him out of the MTA when he went to Serena Grier to find out more about his wife's death. Len Sirkes and his men managed to hold him down and strike him repeatedly until he got the upper hand due to his durability and stamina allowing him to outlast his weaker opponents. His power and restraint of it are believed to be at least somewhat connected to his own emotional state as he lost control of his strength when he discovered that Reva was involved in his experiment and destroyed Noah Burstein's entire barn in distress upon discovery of this revelation.
- Super Leaps: Cage is able to leap great heights and distances due to the superhuman strength in his legs. He measured 24 feet in attempting the broad jump, 11 feet longer than the world record.
|“||"You can't fix me. I'm unbreakable."||„|
|~ Luke Cage to Jessica Jones|
- Superhuman Durability: Cage has extremely durable skin and resilient enough to withstand using his strength to break stone and metal without injury. The durability of his cells can be likened to those found on abalone shells, due to their structure and super elasticity. Cage demonstrates this durability to Jessica Jones by using a circular saw against his own stomach, and he survived both being stabbed in the neck and being shot with a shotgun, neither of which could break his skin. A doctor's drill began to smoke when drilling against his skin. Cage's skin is also fire resistant, as demonstrated by him being able to withstand a point-blank explosion and not feel a thing when he emerged, while on fire. Shots from handguns at point blank and machine guns only caused Luke minor discomfort or stinging pain at times, which only managed to anger him while in combat. Luke has been shown to be shot point-blank with multiple high-caliber machine guns, with the bullets simply ricocheting off of his skin. He even had an entire building fall on top of him, fell from a height of over 30 feet and cracked the ground upon landing and had a car crash right into him, all of which left him unscathed. The only known thing that able to pierce Cage's skin is the Judas Bullet, and though the bullet would have exploded a normal human, Cage managed to barely survive two of them. Also, Claire Temple was able to stick a needle into his eye, along his optic nerve and into his cranium to drain out cerebral spinal fluid in his head, meaning the tissues deeper into his skin can be more vulnerable. She and Noah Burstein also stuck a syringe down Luke's throat to puncture his mucus membrane and get a blood sample for testing. In addition, individuals with superhuman strength, such as Diamondback (with powered armor), can injure him. After having a second experiment done on him, Luke's skin became even more resistant to external damage as Judas Bullets could no longer penetrate it. Having been shot at countless times, Luke has learned how to take advantage of the ricocheting bullets off his skin as a means of offense, to hit people with their own bullet.
- Superhuman Stamina: Cage was able to swim miles away from Seagate Prison to shore without stopping, a task deemed impossible for any man. He was also able to attack multiple safe houses and engage in multiple fights in the span of a few hours, without showing any signs of tiredness. However, strenuous activity and extended use of his powers does seem to cause Luke to be hunger, as he is seen eating large amounts of food afterward. His stamina allows him to easily outlast his opponents, especially when they are in great number, meaning that even if they manage to overpower him, he could still manage to get the upper hand.
|“||"Swear this dude's faster than Usain Bolt."||„|
|~ Michael Smith|
- Superhuman Speed: Cage can run at speeds exceeding that of the finest human athlete. He was able to complete the forty-meter sprint in 3.72 seconds, which is faster than Usain Bolt's record. He was also shown capable of running fast enough to intercept a speeding vehicle to save Claire and Scarfe.
|“||"You told me about your cellular regeneration."
"Yeah. I heal incredibly quickly. My skin hardens, strengthens my muscles. Something like that."
|~ Danny Rand and Luke Cage|
- Regenerative Healing Factor: The original procedure Cage went under was designed to accelerate tissue regrowth in its subjects; as a result, Cage's body heals at an accelerated rate. During the experiment, all of the injuries he had received in prison were healed within moments. Cage also healed from two gunshot wounds inflicted by the Judas Bullet without retaining scars in a matter of hours, though he needed the shrapnel from the bullets removed beforehand. In a few hours, he completely recovered from brain hemorrhaging and cerebral edema, caused by a shotgun blast against his chin that Jessica Jones used to knock him out, while Claire Temple had to drain cerebral spinal fluid from his eye while he had a seizure and noted that moving him could kill him to Jessica Jones.
|“||"This n****'s half Houdini, half Ali."||„|
- Expert Combatant: Due to his time in the marines, police training, and experience in the fighting ring at Seagate Prison, Luke Cage is a highly skilled combatant, able to easily get the upper hand on unarmed opponents. When forced to fight for Albert Rackham, he defeated several skilled and athletic fighters and was one of the best fighters in Rackham's secret fights. He has training in hand to hand combat, bare knuckle boxing, boxing and street fighting. Since the experiment that physically enhanced him, Cage resorts to using his strength while fighting, but he is nevertheless a skilled combatant, using brawling and street fighting techniques, especially when he does not want to injure his opponents. His skills have even allowed him to go up against Bushmaster, a master martial artist in his own right.
|“||"Sometimes the answer's right in front of you."||„|
|~ Luke Cage|
- Expert Investigator: Due to his time as a police officer, Cage has expert detective skills. He was able to track down Chico Diaz in 4 hours, a task neither the police or Cottonmouth could accomplish. While trying to undermine Cottonmouth's operations, he began taking jobs from the people who Cornell had brought trouble for. Many of these jobs included having to track down missing items.
- Before Mike Colter was cast to play the character, Idris Elba expressed interest in portraying Luke Cage.
- Elba would later portray Heimdall in the MCU.
- Cage wearing a hoodie in his tv series was intended to be a tribute to the late Trayvon Martin, which was emphasized by the show runner Cheo Hodari Coker. Coker stated the character wore a hoodie to emphazise "the idea that a black man in a hoodie ins't necessarily a threat."
- Cage and Daredevil were considered to appear in Avengers: Infinity War by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
- Cage was also considered to appear during the Battle of Earth in Avengers: Endgame, but his inclusion was dropped to not make the sequence a "character orgy".