Mike Colter is ready for his "Luke Cage" moment

From CNET Magazine: The actor plays "Luke Cage" as more of a "man of the people" than most Marvel superheroes, but that doesn't make Cage any less badass.

Caitlin Petrakovitz Director of audience
Caitlin Petrakovitz studies the Marvel Cinematic Universe like it's a course in school, with an emphasis on the Infinity Saga years. As an audience expert, she rarely writes but when she does it's most certainly about Star Trek, Marvel, DC, Westworld, San Diego Comic-Con and great streaming properties. Or soccer, that's a thing she loves, too.
Caitlin Petrakovitz
5 min read

Mike Colter looks like he was born to play the superhero.

If you recognize the man at all, it's probably from his part on the "The Good Wife" or as the protagonist of the five-part web series "Halo Nightfall." Now Colter aims to become your next Netflix obsession in the starring role of "Marvel's Luke Cage," which kicks off September 30.

Inspired by Blaxploitation films, Marvel Comics introduced Luke Cage in 1972 as an ex-con with unbreakable skin fighting the day-to-day evils that lurk around the corner. The reluctant superhero has a long history that even includes the Avengers.

The show doesn't explore the same outlandish alien or mystical properties of the blockbuster Marvel films. "It's just a little more real and a little more grounded," says Colter. "He's a man of the street and a man of the people."

If you follow the Marvel universe and have seen "Marvel's Jessica Jones," also on Netflix, you already know Cage as a tough-as-nails strong man with a heart of (mostly) gold.

Sierra Prescott

Colter didn't give any spoilers when talking to CNET about life in the digital age, Marvel's constantly expanding universe, and his thoughts about his baby daughter's relationship with tech.

Who is Luke Cage?

Luke Cage had a pretty normal childhood, more or less. And things kinda got a little shaken later because he starts to learn things about his childhood. [Then] he goes to prison [after being] wrongly convicted of a crime that he didn't commit. He was set up, and we'll find out exactly why and who did this.

He was basically chosen for an experiment that went wrong -- some people could say it went right if you want to be a superhero. But he didn't really want to.

These abilities are something that he's kind of trying to learn to deal with. [He wants] to be someone society can look at and go, "Well, he's someone you can depend on." He's got a community that needs him, a neighborhood that needs his help.

What drew you to the character?

First and foremost, not having a costume is a big deal. I had these abilities, [but] you can't tell by looking at me. And I wanted to play a character that would allow me to have real-life experiences. The abilities would just be something I would have to deal with on top of those -- but those abilities wouldn't be able to solve every problem. He's a man of the street and a man of the people.

There are limitations to everyone's abilities, but you have to find out what they are. If it was up to me, when do I use them? Do I use them for good or for evil? Do I use them in front of people? There's all that stuff going on, and how we have to deal with that is gonna be a big deal. Because as people start to learn about him, what does he do?

Do you feel that realism is a big draw for viewers?

A big part of what separates the Netflix kind of Marvel Cinematic Universe from the films is its ability to stay away from "quote, unquote" superheroes, mysticism and alien interference. So yeah, I feel like it's got its own audience. Our characters you know, we do tread some of the same territories as people [in real life].

If you spend time in New York, you might see a street and say, "I know that street. I know that building." People see [Luke Cage] walking down the street. I might jump in a taxi to get around, as opposed jet boosters and space ships.

We're doing something different -- not better, but just different. You can have both.


Created in 1972, Luke Cage is a near-indestructible, street-smart superhero. He's been a member of several teams in the Marvel universe, including the Avengers and Thunderbolts.


How do you think Netflix affects the Marvel experience?

Some people really do like to be able to binge-watch things. I don't wanna watch everything. I don't wanna watch all of everything at once. But I would like to, you know, maybe watch two at a time.

The ability to decide how much you can consume, when you can consume it, when you can watch it, it's very nice, it's very flexible; it's a reasonable thing to ask for in this current day and age, to have this kind of technology. [But] I don't know how people sit and watch something for 13 hours straight on a weekend and then show up for work on Monday [with] no sleep.

You've alluded to a lot of bad-assery coming in your series. Do you have any favorite moments?

Without giving it away, I can give you little samples of that. In the beginning of Episode Three, there's this sequence that happens. I feel like it's wow -- here's a payoff. We didn't see exactly what we were hoping and were building towards.

I think the audience will feel like this is the moment in which somebody needs to kick someone's ass. We tried other approaches, and it didn't work. We have turned a cheek. Now it's time to clench our fists and do some damage, so I feel like when he does do something [it feels] organic, and it's an ass-whooping that was deserved.

Do you have a must-have device that you're always connected to?

I had an iPad and then I recently got the iPhone 6 Plus, I think. It's huge! I pretty much have it [with me] all the time because...I have things I need to do. But I try to stay on as little as possible. But my baby girl, she's 11 months old right now, and she sees me on the phone; she wants to hold our devices. She wants to figure out what the big deal is. So she's like, "Let me hold it."

You have to make sure that they don't get too attached to the phone. Because she sees you on it, she wants to bond with you. If you hold it, she wants to hold it. She says it must be great if you're on it all the time.


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Michael Muller

You have no social media presence. Do you "work" at that?

I see the relevance of it; I see the importance of it. I just can't wrap my mind around [it]. I can't participate. I think sometimes there's something to be said about doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing and not being a part of the trend. It's just not for me.

I reserve the right to change my mind, but I can't imagine that happening.

This story appears in the fall 2016 edition of CNET Magazine. For other magazine stories, click here.