Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, hell, even Ant-Man — we keep seeing the same white heroes with love interests that don’t pass the Bechdel test save the world. However, with its Defenders franchise, Netflix is finally giving the world a diverse, blockbuster superhero team that represents different viewpoints. Daredevil addresses disability, Jessica Jones finally gives a voice to survivors of domestic abuse, and Luke Cage focuses on a black hero whose story is very relevant to the current racial issues in America. Though the latter series just hit the streaming service on Sept. 30, viewers already met the reluctant superhero on another series. So before you see his new standalone show, you'll need to know what happened to Luke Cage on Jessica Jones.
The Defenders are basically a local version of the Avengers, according to Time. They are all based in New York and protect their city from various villains. While saving your city isn’t as grandiose as saving the world or the universe, Netflix is using the team to discuss prejudice, mental health, gender, and politics. The same Time article calls Luke Cage Marvel’s "most political" Netflix project to date and also states:
"[Luke Cage] creator Cheo Hodari Coker spins out the social implications of a bulletproof black man in the era of Black Lives Matter, confronts issues of gentrification, writes debates between character over the use of the N-word, name-checks the likes of Zora Neale Hurston, and has Cage carry around a copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Luke [played by Mike Colter], who carries himself with ease and intelligence and is slow to use his strength, wears a hoodie, in a nod to Trayvon Martin and a visual argument against the assumption that a black man in that outfit is inherently threatening."
Clearly, Luke's story goes far beyond being a superhero, so it's definitely possible that viewers who haven't seen Netflix's previous Marvel shows will be tuning in for its many other themes. If you're one such viewer, here's everything you need to know about Luke's background on Jessica Jones. Spoilers for the first season of Jessica Jones ahead.
Luke Cage Has Impressive Powers
Luke is superhero strong and his skin is impenetrable. If you try to hit Luke, you will end up hurting yourself, unless you are the unbreakable Jessica Jones, but more on that later. Luke is also impermeable to bullets, but despite all of this, he would rather lay low than use his powers. In Marvel Comics, Luke developed these powers when he was experimented on while he was serving time in prison for a wrongful conviction.
Luke & Jessica Have History
We first meet Luke when private investigator Jessica Jones (played by Krysten Ritter) spies on him in his bar — which later blows up, but don’t worry about that now. It turns out, this isn’t for her practice, it’s personal. Under the abuse and manipulation of Kilgrave (who can control minds in a terrifying way), Jessica killed Luke’s wife, Reva Connors. Eventually, Luke and Jessica develop a relationship and bond over their shared powers. She even helps him hunt down the man he believes to be responsible for his wife’s death. But things go south when Jessica reveals that she is actually the one who killed Reva.
Luke Forgives Jessica
Luke forgives Jessica because he also falls victim to Kilgrave — burning down his own bar under the villain's supernatural manipulation. Kilgrave is actually connected to Luke beyond that, because Reva had video evidence of Kilgrave’s childhood abuse that led to his villainous powers, and tracking down that video is how Jessica ended up killing Reva.
Jessica & Luke Had Some Hot Scenes
Hello, super strength and unbreakable bodies. Let's just say it gets pretty steamy.
Kilgrave Is Dead
Jessica killed him, so don't expect him to be a threat in Luke Cage.
Where Luke Left Off…
It turns out that Kilgrave was still controlling Luke when he forgave Jessica, which is revealed when Luke, controlled by Kilgrave, attacks her. She shoots him in the head to ward off the attack and though Luke is indestructible, he is in need of medical attention from the bullet hitting him, even though it didn't break skin. Nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a character from Daredevil, has experience with super patients and nurses Luke back to health while Jessica is off stopping Kilgrave. Luke recovers and leaves.
Finally, Luke Cage
Luke Cage begins several months after the events of Jessica Jones, and in the time since, Luke has relocated from Hell’s Kitchen to Harlem and returned to laying low. I won't spoil where things go from there, but based on what we've already seen from Luke and know is coming, you should plan to marathon Luke Cage this weekend.
Images: Netflix (2), Myles Aronowitz/Netflix (3); Giphy