The premiere of Marvel’s new series Luke Cage brought together masons from the comic, Hip Hop, and movie worlds respectively. OJ chopped things up with everyone from comic mastermind Jeph Loeb to famous Hip Hop journalist, and current show runner for Luke Cage, Cheo Coker. You can check out video of the interviews down below, as well as some quick highlights.
OJ: Talk about Luke Cage and how you first connected with this project, and also how you stepped into Marvel and the Marvel cinematic universe
Mike: I had a job at the time, I was working on a show. Then this material found it’s way into my hands. When I read it, it really resonated with me, and when I went in they thought so too. I started doing chemistry reads with Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and the overall plan was to have Luke Cage introduced in Jessica Jones and then move into his own series, and then finally Defenders. It was just one of things that’s life changing all at once.
OJ: As Luke Cage, you’re part of such a bigger Universe. Talk about blending in and what Luke Cage brings differently to each show.
Mike: What they are really good at, is making each show very specific to itself, very unique, having the ability to stand on its own. If you watch one show, you don’t necessarily have to watch the others. My luxury was being introduced in Jessica Jones, which is a show that’s very different, it has a dark noire vibe. When we go to Harlem with Luke, it’s sort of a different feeling but the character remains very much the same. What I like about Marvel is they’re able to tell different stories with specific characters and stay true to who they are no matter what series it is.
OJ: With Luke Cage being one of the first African American heroes if not the first, what’s the process like in bringing him to the screen? Is it a long process?
Jeph: In the big picture of things, Luke Cage appeared in 1972, as the first black superhero from the street in order to have his own comic. That’s where it lived for a while, in the comic book industry. But in many ways it had a major impact on a number of people, not the least of which is Cheo Coker who is our show runner. He saw in himself, that there’s this black superhero from the street who he could connect with. We set out to tell that story, and we wanted to have an authenticity to it.
OJ: Tell us about your role in the show, your involvement, and how this all happened.
Simone: I wish I could tell you more about what I’m doing but I can’t. I come in the middle of the series after a major plot twist.
OJ: You are Hip Hop royalty as far as I am concerned, especially Hip Hop journalism royalty. Talk about Hip Hop as a character in this show.
Cheo: It’s two-fold. For one, the reason we have Biggie in the club is that, I got to know Biggie interviewing him back in the day, and he would have loved Cottonmouth. As a storyteller, and Cottonmouth’s swagger, that was kind of a shout to Big. But in a deeper sense, it was my relationship with Big from interviewing him that led to my writing a book, that lead to me co-writing the movie, and that lead to me writing this show, so in a way I owe all this to Notorious Big and to Hip Hop. So I’m using this show as a way to pay Hip Hop back for all it’s given me.
OJ: Talk about hooking up with your writing partner Tony, and how it was coming to Marvel and how Misty came to be in Luke Cage
Avrell: We were doing Iron Fist at the time and Tony was saying that he was tired of writing Iron Fist and he needed somebody to talk to. I told him I had a character for him, one of my characters. After about a week of convincing him, and taking him to see blacksploitation movies like Black Belt Jones and Live and Let Die, I told him we needed to create a character who has that kind of gumption. We needed to create someone that real, someone who reminds me of my mother, my girlfriend, and every other woman I’ve ever met.
OJ: You play such a badass woman on the show, talk about the strong female character you play and why she’s so tough
Alfred: I think all women are strong. All women are strong so I don’t approach a character by noting if they’re a strong character or not. I look at their circumstances. In terms of the script I look at what her intentions are, what she wants, and how she intends to get it. Mariah is focused, she’s not emotional and she’s patient. That’s how she gets what she wants.