Oct 22, 2016

12 Beefcake Stars of Marvel's "Luke Cage"

Luke Cage was a Marvel comic book series that tried to cash in on the 1970s blacksploitation craze with a jive-talking, bell-bottom-wearing Harlem-based "hero for hire."  He didn't fly or have laser-vision; he was only marginally super-strong.  In fact, his only real superpower was being unbreakable: nothing could pierce his skin (which leads to all sorts of questions, but ok, Superman can reverse the Earth's rotation, so I'm not complaining).

Fast forward to 2016, when Luke Cage becomes the star of a Netflix tv series: after "the incident," a depressed, angst-ridden Luke Cage is keeping a low profile, working at Pop's Barber Shop in Harlem, hiding his superpowers from a hostile society and trying to stay out of trouble.  But when Pop is murdered, he is forced into action again.

There are ample gay subtexts.  No one in the cast seems involved in a heterosexual relationship, or expresses heterosexual interest, except for Luke himself and an occasional murdered cop who gets the standard "He had a wife!" homage.  Otherwise this is a homoerotic Harlem where men and women lead separate lives, coming together only when necessary to run organized crime gangs or try to bring those crime gangs down.

And, since almost the entire cast is black, there is an explosion of black beefcake, more than on any other tv series I have ever seen.

1. Mike Colter (top photo) as Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, although he isn't hired much.  After Pop dies and the barber shop closes, he is basically unemployed, spending his time being moody, getting shot at, and trying not to get involved with hetero-romance.

2. Mahershala Ali (left) as crime boss Cottonmouth Stokes, the owner of the Harlem Paradise nightclub.  He wanted to become a professional musician, but he was forced into the crime game by his aunt, Mama Mabel, who also forced him to kill his uncle.

3.Theo Rossi as Shades Alvarez, a street thug who plays every side of the conflict.

4. Erik LaRay Harvey as Diamondback (the gang members all have snake names).  He also happens to be Luke's half-brother, the guy who framed him and had him sent to the prison where he got his superpowers.  He carries a Bible with him at all times.

5. Jaiden Kaine (left) as Zip, the leader of Cottonmouth's gang.

6. Jeremiah Craft as David, a teenager Luke befriends.

More after the break

7. Jared Kemp as a teenage Diamondback.

8. Jermel Howard as Shameek, one of the barber shop regulars.

9. Sean Ringgold (left) as Sugar, a member of Cottonmouth's gang.

10. Warner Miller as Tone, another gang member.

11.  Thomas Q. Jones as Comanche, an inmate at Seagate Prison where Luke got his superpowers.

12. Manny Perez as Perez, a crooked cop.

There are lots more, but I'm out of space.

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