Calling Luke Cage! The time has come for a new black superhero film
While audiences line up to see Man of Steel, the 28th reboot of the Superman franchise this weekend, fans of black superheroes, such as Luke Cage and Black Panther, are still wondering when they will get their shot at the big screen.
Rumors and reports of a Luke Cage film in various stages of development have been circulating around the movie industry for years, yet there always seems to be a roadblock in the process.
In an age where superhero movies are a dime a dozen, it’s absurd that Marvel or DC Comics haven’t dipped into their deep well of characters to make a movie where an African-American is the lead, instead of a dedicated sidekick.
The Blade franchise ignited the superhero renaissance
Some movie critics would argue that 2000’s X-Men kicked off the current comic book movie craze, but in 1998 Marvel’s Blade, starring Wesley Snipes, was the first superhero hit following the Batman & Robin debacle, which nearly killed the genre for good.
Before Blade, CGI was in its relative infancy and it showed. But the vampire hunter film didn’t just bring us a classic anti-hero, it ushered in a new era of state-of-the-art special effects.
What’s more, Blade proved that a black comic book hero could cross over to white audiences, too. The trilogy proved to be Snipes’ most profitable movies at the box office.
And Blade was actually a far more obscure character than the established brands of Black Panther and Luke Cage, just to name a few.
The sidekick complex
Character actor Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) has been cast to play Captain America’s sidekick Falcon in an upcoming sequel to The First Avenger. Unfortunately, in the world of comics, Falcon is widely considered a B-lister superhero. An actor of Mackie’s caliber may be largely wasted in the same manner Don Cheadle has been playing War Machine in the Iron Man sequels.
In addition, rising stars like Michael B. Jordan, Nate Parker and Idris Elba are all capable of stepping into a lead hero role, but have so far been stuck on the sidelines.
Of all the established properties, Luke Cage appears to have generated the most interest
Tyrese has gone on record pleading to be cast in the origin story, as has Isaiah Mustafa of Old Spice fame. And while director John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) has been long-attached to this project, it still appears to be hopelessly mired in development hell.
Since 2000, the X-Men, and Spider-Man franchises have had multiple reboots when their ticket sales began to decline. But a single Luke Cage is still nowhere to be found.
This type of favoritism or inability to invest in a new hero of color detracts from the diversity of the Marvel Comics catalog.
What makes it all the more embarrassing is witnessing so many mediocre heroes being greenlit. Did we really need to see Nicolas Cage butcher Ghost Rider, not once, but twice?
Luke Cage’s super abilities include invulnerability, super strength and healing powers, not unlike Wolverine, and he was also notable member of the Avengers. How fitting would it be to see him star in his own film before the confirmed Avengers sequel is released in 2015? Until further notice that won’t be happening, because Marvel has already committed itself to Ant-Man, a scientist who can manipulate his size and has the “enviable” ability to communicate with ants. This is yet another example of a B-lister being pushed in front of an iconic black character.
Aside from expanding their fan base, a proper Luke Cage flick could help celebrate the diversity of the comic book art form. Moviegoers would gravitate towards a Luke Cage because he’s not a prototypical hero in a cape and tights, but a blue collar, jeans-wearing everyman with a gift.
Hopefully, Marvel will wake up and smell the coffee before this comic book movie fad comes to an end.