Marvel’s Luke Cage has officially joined the Netflix-exclusive part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Existing in the same world as more popular Marvel Comics superheroes such as Spider-Man, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, the titular antagonist from Luke Cage is a lesser-known character from the Marvel universe that was more commonly referred to as Power Man. For anyone who isn’t a comic book aficionado, the only familiarity with Luke Cage comes from his role in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, another Netflix series that highlighted a lesser-known Marvel Comics superhero.
But the creators of Marvel’s Luke Cage are using the series to introduce several other Marvel Comics characters to the MCU. Some characters from Luke Cage — like Misty Knight and Rafael Scarfe — seem to closely resemble the characters as they were in the comics. Others — like Shades Alvarez and Mariah Dillard — are presented much differently on Netflix than they were in Marvel Comics.
After just one episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage, several characters are introduced that come from the comics. At the same time, plenty of characters were created specifically for the Netflix series.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage, titled “Moment of Truth.”
New characters introduced in Luke Cage
Aside from Luke Cage himself (played by Mike Colter), everyone in the opening barber shop scene is unique to the Luke Cage Netflix series. You won’t find Pop, Chico, Shameek or the chess-playing Bobby Fish within the pages of Marvel Comics. Patricia Wilson, the stunning single mom who flirts with Luke, was introduced just for the series, as was her son Lonnie who is getting his hair cut by Pop.
Later on, viewers are introduced to Luke’s landlord Connie Lin, another character created just for the show. Cottonmouth’s sidekick Tone never existed within the pages of Marvel Comics, and neither did fellow career-criminal Domingo Colon. Working at the Cottonmouth-owned Harlem’s Paradise, the waitress Candace Miller has a recurring role that never surfaced in the print world of Marvel.
Mercedes “Misty” Knight (played by Simone Missick)
As the first episode of Luke Cage moves from the barber shop to Harlem’s Paradise, viewers get a (very) brief glimpse of Misty Knight sitting at the bar. As previously reported by Inquisitr, the character Misty Knight will not be appearing in Iron Fist, despite the fact that the character has a romantic past with Danny Rand/Iron Fist in Marvel Comics. In the comics, she is paired with Rafael Scarfe, just as she is in the first episode of Luke Cage. In the comics, while handling a bomb, Knight loses an arm. Thanks to the benevolence of Tony Stark, she is outfitted with a bionic arm that compliments the martial arts skills she has mastered within the pages of Marvel. If the Netflix incarnation of Knight is to have a bionic arm or any martial arts skills, it certainly isn’t apparent from the first episode of Luke Cage.
Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (played by Mahershala Ali)
The first villain confirmed for Marvel’s Luke Cage was Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. As reported by Bustle, the previously obscure character Cornell Cottonmouth wasn’t even a major player in the stories that evolved around Power Man/Luke Cage in Marvel Comics. As a heroin dealer in Harlem, he was used by Willis Stryker to frame Luke Cage. After Cage was cleared of his charges, he eventually turned Cottonmouth over to the police. That was in 1974. When he resurfaced in 2010, he was defeated rather quickly by the duo of Power Man and Iron Fist. On Netflix, his role as a crime boss has become much more significant. He deals in weapons rather than drugs, and play politics with his cousin, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard.
Mariah Dillard (played by Alfre Woodard)
Well aware of her cousin’s illegal actions behind the scenes in Harlem, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard has worked out a symbiotic relationship with Cornell Stokes. Since his deeds are well-known throughout the community, she has to keep her affiliation with him under wraps as much as possible. While she isn’t powerful in the same way Luke Cage is powerful, she has a lot of influence for the neighborhood loved by both Luke and Cornell.
But Black Mariah — the character from Marvel Comics that serves as the basis for Mariah Dillard — was a very different type of foe for Luke Cage. As noted by Bustle, while Black Mariah didn’t possess any superhuman abilities, she was depicted as an incredibly large (and intimidating) woman. Rather than being involved in politics, she led a group of criminals called the Rat Pack, who stole valuables off of the recently deceased. After Luke Cage put a stop to that, she became a leading distributor of an illegal narcotic called “Acid Z.” Much like Cottonmouth, Mariah’s character has been given a much more significant and powerful role in Marvel’s Luke Cage than she ever had in the comics.
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Shades Alvarez (played by Theo Rossi) and Comanche (played by Thomas Q. Jones)
While their first appearance in Luke Cage is an incredibly brief portion of a dream Luke has after first sleeping with Misty Knight, both Shades Alvarez and Comanche are introduced to the MCU in the first episode. While the details aren’t very clear right away, it’s obvious that the two men crossed Luke Cage while they were all in prison. In Marvel Comics, however, the past between Luke Cage and these two villains are very different. As noted by Movie Pilot, Shades and Comanche were partners with Power Man and Iron Fist before the latter pair became superheroes. Shades was eventually fitted with a visor that gave him powers similar to Cyclops of the X-Men, while Comanche was an archer with skills comparable to Hawkeye of The Avengers. If any such gimmicks are to be given to Shades or Comanche in Luke Cage on Netflix, it certainly isn’t indicated in the first episode.
Rafael Scarfe (played by Frank Whaley)
Misty Knight’s partner from Marvel Comics is the same as her partner in the Netflix series. Rafael Scarfe in Luke Cage isn’t drastically different from the one that was introduced via printing press in 1975. As noted by Superhero Hype, the Rafael Scarfe of Marvel’s Luke Cage is a mentor to Misty Knight, who showed her how to be a cop when she was new to the force in Harlem. In the comics, however, it is Knight who shows Scarfe the ropes, as he joins the NYPD after serving in Vietnam.
Where To Watch Marvel’s Luke Cage
As of September 30, the entire first season of Marvel’s Luke Cage is available to stream on-demand with a Netflix subscription. The first season consists of thirteen episodes. It follows Luke Cage after he leaves Hell’s Kitchen (as told in Marvel’s Jessica Jones) and sets up shop in Harlem. Both shows, along with Marvel’s Daredevil and the upcoming Marvel’s Iron Fist, are ultimately leading up to the highly-anticipated crossover series Marvel’s The Defenders, another Netflix exclusive.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]