As the man with indestructible skin, Luke Cage is one of Marvel’s most popular street level heroes. After first appearing on Netflix’s Jessica Jones, the Hero of Harlem received his own MCU series in 2016. Being a bulletproof black man in a hoodie whose show appeared at a time that police killings of unarmed black people were a weekly news event, he was met with critical acclaim as a superhero for modern times.
While Luke’s skin might be indestructible, he is not immune to the damage of continuity changes. Some major aspects of the character were changed when bringing him to the screen with actor Mike Colter.
10 Accurate: Sweet Christmas
Luke Cage has roots in the traditions of the blaxploitation films of the 70s. As time passed, the character evolved, becoming more nuanced and sophisticated as writers changed their portrayal of him.
When writer Christopher Priest took over the character, he made a number of changes to move past the stereotypical cliches of the blaxploitation genre. One change which gave Cage more of a traditional superhero role was to give him a new catchphrase: “Sweet Christmas.” This is something Luke utters several times throughout the Netflix, including in the flashback episode with his origin story.
9 Inaccurate: Superhero Teams
While Luke has always been a bit of a loner, he has been on a number of superhero teams. He founded the Heroes for Hire, a group of heroes who get paid to help out in the community. Also, after the Avengers were dismantled in the Avengers Disassembled event, he became a member of the New Avengers team. Later, he led the Mighty Avengers.
Despite all this, on Netflix he worked as a member of the Defenders, a team traditionally associated with characters like Namor, Doctor Strange, and the Hulk. In anticipation of the Netflix series, Marvel did print a new Defenders comic with the team lineup from the show, but it wasn’t a team the character was originally on.
8 Accurate: The Disco Outfit
Throughout the Netflix series, Luke Cage wears a number of different outfits, ranging from T-shirts to hoodies to an overpriced suit. In the comics, he also has a series of different outfits he wears, though when he started out, he had a distinct Disco-inspired ensemble with a yellow shirt and headband.
This outfit appears briefly in the show after Luke breaks out of prison. As he stares in the mirror, Luke sums up his thoughts on the look with two words: “Sweet Christmas.”
7 Inaccurate: Reva
Reva is an important character in Luke Cage’s origin, as she was featured in his Marvel debut back in Luke Cage Hero for Hire number 1. This seminal comic also introduced Cage, along with the villains Shades, Comanche, and Diamondback.
Reva was in love with Luke and his best friend Striker (who would later become Diamondback). When she became engaged to Luke, Striker framed Luke for possession and had Luke sent to jail. This differs greatly from the Netflix series where she worked in the jail that Luke was sent too
6 Accurate: Jessica Jones
Luke Cage made his TV debut in the Jessica Jones Netflix series before getting a show of his own. The two meet at his bar, then hook up.
There are a handful of notable differences about their relationship, including the end result and the specific acts of their first encounter, but the way they met and the fact that they are romantically engaged is true to the comics.
5 Inaccurate: Relationship with Claire Temple
In the comics, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are a power couple who are married and have a kid together. In the Netflix series, Mike Colter’s interpretation of Cage ends up in a very different relationship as he becomes romantically committed to Claire Temple.
Though she is also a comics character, the TV version of Claire was clearly inspired by the Night Nurse. Neither Night Nurse nor Claire Temple is as natural a match for Luke as Jessica is.
4 Accurate: Friendship with Danny Rand
Luke’s best friend is the billionaire martial artist Danny Rand, better known to the world as the superhero Iron Fist. The two ran a business together, the Heroes for Hire.
They team up in Netflix’s Defenders, then again in the second season of Luke Cage. Despite the negative reactions fans had to the Iron Fist series, the nature of the duo’s friendship remains true to the comic material. So too does Iron Fist’s use of ki. But while Danny might have an Iron Fist, he found out the hard way that Luke’s skin is harder than steel.
3 Inaccurate: Bibliophile
One of the many creative choices the show made to discuss important political issues related to black identity in America was to make discussions of black history and literature a central theme.
In Pop’s Barber Shop, Luke has a discussion with Pop and the shop’s various patrons about authors like Chester Himes, Walter Mosley, and Donald Goines. Luke also carries a copy of Mosley’s book Little Green and the classic American novel Invisible Man, both books that deals with black masculinity. While Luke is quite smart in the comics, he is not an avid reader.
2 Accurate: Prison
Luke was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. While there, he was subjected to racist abuse from the prison guards, then experimented upon. These experiments resulted in him getting such powers as indestructible skin and enhanced strength.
This stint in prison where he got his powers is part of Luke’s origin story in both the comics and his on-screen adaptation. Interestingly, in both comics and in the Netflix series, he also returned to prison for a second time, showing just how difficult it is for some people to escape the cycle of mass incarceration in the United States.
1 Inaccurate: Power Level
While Luke’s tough exterior is a regular focus in the show, it is only in the second season that his superstrength is put on full display. However, even then, this version of the hero is dramatically underpowered.
His Marvel counterpart once casually lifted an eighteen wheeler overhead and carried it several blocks (keeping in mind that this is an 80,000 pound truck). On another occasion, Luke once prevented an airplane from taking off by holding it in place. He’s even caused an earthquake while fighting the villain Proxima Midnight. Unlike the mild stunts his MCU counterpart performs in the show, these are feats worthy of a hero called Power Man.
As the man with indestructible skin, Luke Cage is one of Marvel's most popular street level heroes. But how accurate was the Netflix version?