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Why Marvel’s “Luke Cage” is So Important

The Netflix Original Series, Luke Cage, deserves attention for more than just  being another superhero show. For those of you don’t know the premise of the show, Luke Cage comes out of the Marvel Universe of heroes. He has superhuman strength and bullet proof skin. Essentially, Luke Cage is physically indestructible. Now that we’re caught up on who Luke Cage is, let’s address why anyone actually cares about Luke Cage.

A very visible reason people care about Luke Cage is Mike Colter (pictured above), who plays Luke Cage happens to be Black. In a time where we subscribe to the norms of heros being White, a Black lead who does not conform to racial stereotypes is a breath of fresh air. Sure, Marvel has provided us with Falcon and the newest Human Torch, who are also Black. Considering Captain America,The Avengers, and The Fantastic Four are primarily about White heroes, I can’t really get amped that about Falcon and the new Human Torch. Yes, they make appearances and provide positive images of Black superheroes, let’s be honest, they are not the star of those movies. Luke Cage differentiates itself as a show just by having the lead be a Black man because it is the first Marvel show with a Black superhero.

Okay, so why is this significant? Check your calendar. We live in a time where this actually should not be groundbreaking, yet we find ourselves marveling at having the first Black superhero show produced by Marvel. Basically, Hollywood needs to get it together and start representing minorities in a way that accurately portrays the world we live in. Meaning there needs to be more than one show with a Black superhero lead. We need shows with heroes from culturally diverse backgrounds. Characters from various socioeconomic statuses, races, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations to capture the diverse culture we live in. Although many of these identities get suppressed by our society, highlighting them in the media will create space for these identities within our society. Of course, that would mean we as a society would progressively begin to discuss the intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation as if we were accepting of the vast number of identities people assume. Groundbreaking.

Speaking of groundbreaking, Luke Cage can actually be related to current events in American society. A culturally significant aspect of Luke Cage ties back into what makes him superhuman. Luke Cage has bullet proof skin. Bullet proof skin. A Black man with bullet proof skin would do quite well in certain parts of America in today’s age. Regardless of how you feel about the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s hard to argue the fact that many Black men have been shot unarmed in the last year. Seeing a Black man in the role of the hero creates an opportunity for people to take a minute to think about how they categorize others based on physical attributes.

Hate it or love it, the media has a lot of control in terms of how people stereotype groups. Stereotypes then feed into the behavior directed at those groups, which then returns to the importance of Luke Cage being an opportunity for the media to push a positive image for a Black man. I encourage you to watch if not for the reason to follow how Luke Cage addresses a societal issue, but because the show interests you.

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Emily Cornell

U Wyoming '17

Emily is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor's in Business Management and Master's in Communication. In terms of career, Emily interned for Wyoming Athletics, and wants to eventually work in sports marketing. When not working or in class, she can typically be found baking cheesecakes, drinking coffee, or having random adventures. If the idea of these three things seem exciting, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter, username: emilproblems. 
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