Those who binge watched “Marvel’s Luke Cage” Season 1 this weekend may have noticed that Harlem’s hero isn’t exactly the same guy from the comics. As with all Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) projects, the writers decided to make some changes. These were some of the most noticeable differences between the Netflix drama and the source material.
(Spoiler Alert: There are major plot points below for all 13 episodes of “Luke Cage.”)
1. Childhood — Luke’s backstory was simplified for the TV show. His pre-experiment life shown was a Georgia preacher’s son who became a cop and was framed. In the comics, he was from Harlem, raised in several juvenile homes, spent most of his youth in a gang before deciding he wanted a more legitimate life as an adult. Once he was framed by Willis Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey), a.k.a. Diamondback, the story takes the same turn by sending him to prison.
2. Family — Stryker wasn’t Luke’s brother in the comics. They were best friends who grew up together.
3. Reva — The men didn’t share a father in the comics, so he was not the source of animosity. Reva (Parisa Fitz-Henley) was actually the root of conflict for Stryker and Luke. She had broken up with Stryker and gotten together with Luke. Diamondback was not happy that Luke broke bro code and planted heroin in his apartment to get him arrested. Reva was actually Luke’s wife in the screen version, and she wasn’t even introduced to him until after he was in prison. Her past certainly wasn’t as mysterious in the comics as it is on Netflix.
4. Cottonmouth’s Job Offer — Just like in the show, Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) offered Luke a job in the crime business. However, comic book Luke actually accepted because it was a way to get evidence that he was framed.
5. Costume — Luke isn’t one for a costume on the TV show, but his original look in the comics was referenced. When Luke escapes prison, he still has his tiara from the experiment and ends up stealing a bright yellow shirt that can’t be closed fully. It’s a reference to Power Man’s original costume in the comics. These days, the illustrated hero sticks to a yellow t-shirt, but Netflix Luke prefers dark hoodies. At least his sweatshirt in the Season 1 finale had a noticeable yellow lining in the hood.
6. Names — Much like the costume, “Luke Cage” also ditched most of the superhero names. Cage’s alias, Power Man, is only referenced a couple times. Mariah (Alfre Woodard) is not happy when she is called “Black Mariah.” Cottonmouth won’t let people call him that to his face. However, the villainous Diamondback seemed to keep his name (and his costume).
7. Misty’s Arm — Misty Knight’s (Simone Missick) arm is injured in “Luke Cage,” and it’s mentioned that she could lose the limb. Ultimately, her arm is safe, but it’s not in the comics. The books show her losing the arm and a bionic replacement is used.
8. Hero for Hire — TV show Luke does not want to take advantage of his situation. He refuses to charge people money for protection, unlike his comic book counterpart. However, many people bring up the idea throughout the series. If the show gets a second season, it seems like Luke might reevaluate his decision.
“Marvel’s Luke Cage” Season 1 is on Netflix now.