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Luke Cage

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"You can't fix me. I'm unbreakable."

Birth Name: Carl Lucas

Species: Enhanced human

Citizenship: American

Portrayed By: Mike Colter

Voiced By: Orlando Alfaro [Jessica Jones (2015)], Cristóbal Areite [Luke Cage (2016)] (Latin-America Chilean Spanish dub); Alfonso Vallés (European Spanish dub)

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Appearances: Jessica Jones (2015) | Luke Cage (2016) | The Defenders

"This city is supposed to represent our hopes and dreams. You have to fight for what's right every single day."

A former sheriff's deputy from Georgia who gained Super Strength and Nigh Invulnerable skin from a sabotaged experiment. After an explosion takes his entire livelihood, Luke finds himself using his abilities to become the unlikely protector of Harlem.


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    # - K 
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • His skin may be impenetrable, but enough concussive force can still cause internal injuries, which are then extremely difficult to treat. Likewise, if something does happen to pierce his skin, it's next to impossible to dig it out.
    • Also, unbreakable skin doesn't help against intoxicating substances. Luke is just as susceptible to paralysis inducing substances like a normal person would be.
    • Due to the fact that he is generally invulnerable to nearly everything, Luke tends to be very overconfident. When somebody does actually come up with something that can hurt him, Luke ends up trying to tank it like everything else and thus is a sitting duck.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the comics, Luke Cage's combat experience began and ended with street-fighting and gang warfare. Only later, after his partnership with Iron Fist, did he receive any training—and only informally. In this story, Luke Cage trained with Willis Stryker in boxing at a very young age, then received combat training in the military, and then further honed his skills in an underground fighting ring. By the time he got his powers, he was already capable of brutally beating ordinary men in one-on-one combat.
  • Adaptational Job Change: He's ex-military and an ex-deputy sheiff.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • This Luke is much more of a nice guy than he was in the comics, who was largely Only in It for the Money with his "Heroes For Hire" ideology. In fact, an early review compared him to Captain America, The Paragon of the MCU.
    • Speaking of Heroes for Hire, ironically he refuses offers of money from the people he saved.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: He's considerably more composed and philosophical than his Hot-Blooded counterpart in the comics.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the comics, he and Iron Fist are Heterosexual Life-Partners who've headlined their own series together and often serve as Those Two Guys of the Marvel Universe. Here, they don't even meet until The Defenders (2017) and they have a fight. Even afterwards, they still aren't portrayed the way they are in the comics. This does seem to be changing with Luke Cage Season 2, where the two bond.
  • Afro Asskicker: He had an afro when he was in Seagate, and he was a total badass already.
  • Almighty Janitor: He begins his own show sweeping the floor of a barbershop and washing dishes at a club. But when push comes to shove, he becomes an Implacable Man.
  • Angry Black Man: Deconstructed in Season 2, he's been losing his temper for rather legitimate reasons such as people recording him for stopping bad guys and having his father revisit him doesn't help him at all. He's still generally calm and collected but his breaking point has been showing up at inopportune moments, giving everyone else this impression.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The man has bulletproof skin, has been shot with bullets made of alien metals, has fought a cult of ninjas led by evil immortals, dated a woman with superhuman abilities, took legal counsel from a "blind ninja", and is pals with a dude who can make his fist glow and punch out walls... and yet he refuses to believe that dragons might be real. Danny calls him out on this. One must assume he didn't see the dragon bones while fighting the Hand under Midland Circle.
  • Badass Baritone: He has a deep voice to match his ripped physique.
  • Badass Beard: While in Seagate, his beard nearly symmetrically matches his afro, giving him an intimidating mountain-man appearance. In the present he sports a smaller, though no-less awesome looking, goatee.
  • Badass Biker: Owns a Harley with a deep, sexy roar that could match his. The helmets are just for show, of course.
  • Badass Boast:
    Civilian girl: Don't you need a gun?
    Luke: I am the gun.
  • Badass Bookworm: Is incredibly well read. When not quoting books he's kicking ass.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Luke occasionally kicks ass while wearing a very well tailored suit courtesy of Dapper Dan.
    • At the end of Season 2, after Mariah leaves him Harlem's Paradise, he's seeing sporting another tailored suit from another tailored suit more in line with his darker portrayal from the comics.
  • Bald of Awesome: Luke is both very bald and very awesome.
  • Beard of Sorrow: During his time in prison in the flashbacks, and the reason Shades didn't recognize him in the barber shop.
  • Berserk Button: He absolutely detests the word "nigga" as he feels it is an insult to his ancestors and heroes, especially when another black man uses it. Say it, and prepare for a "World of Cardboard" Speech at best, an ass-kicking at worst. He also hates being called by his real name "Carl Lucas", which sent him into an Unstoppable Rage when the scientist who gave him his powers repeatedly referred to him as such.
  • The Big Guy: Standing at 6'3" with a Nigh Invulnerable body and enhanced strength, Cage is a force to be reckoned with. Even the super-strong Jessica has to resort to a point blank shotgun blast to defeat him, and it only knocks him unconscious.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: Commonly attempted on him by the random mooks he faces. He often promptly and hilariously tosses them away.
  • Blaxploitation: Averted. The character was originally subject to this, but they removed it for the MCU. In fact, Mike Coulter was assured that the story was going for a "modern version" of the character before he took the role.
  • Blessed with Suck: Sure his impenetrable skin protects him from harm, but it also prevents him from getting an injection that can save his life, and it's not just his skin, almost all his soft tissue is similarly invulnerable. This makes trying to remove shrapnel an absolute bitch. As of Season 2, even with supposedly better invulnerability a powerful enough blast from a specialized shotgun to the shoulder was enough to dislocate it.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Danny gives some to Luke in Season 2, teaching Luke to control his anger so he can keep his Super Strength refined.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Under Kilgrave's control he gets used as muscle.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: As strong and tough as he is, Luke can also be very compassionate.
  • Cain and Abel: Is the Abel to Diamondback's Cain, albeit unknowingly at first.
  • The Cape: Pretty much the noblest of all of the Defenders, showing the most concern with how the consequences of their actions could potentially affect civilians.
  • Catchphrase:
    • As in the comics, he's partial to the phrase "Sweet Christmas."
      • First, after a particularly good round of sex with Jess.
      • Later, after discovering a secret pot farm filled with millions of dollars of the plants.
    • He says "do what you gotta do" several times to Jessica across her series.
    • He adopts Pop's line "forward, always" and cites it as a Survival Mantra.
  • Character Check: While in the comics, Luke Cage does not curse, this part was abandoned in Jessica Jones. However, the trait returns in Luke Cage's own series.
  • Chick Magnet: Aside from Reva, he slept with Jessica and Misty, was called "fine" by a witness watching him in action (beating up criminals), and ends up in a relationship with Claire at the end of Season 1 of his own series.
  • Cherry Tapping: Since he can't punch fools without breaking them in half, Luke just smacks and taps mooks on the head and that takes them down for the count.
  • Clothing Damage: His skin's bulletproof, but not his clothing. After a couple of Domingo's guys try shooting at him to no effect:
    Luke: I'm about sick of always having to buy new clothes.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Much like Jessica Jones, his comic superhero name Power Man is introduced as a gag when Pop jokingly calls him by it. However, after Pop's death, he begins to embrace it — he still only calls himself Luke Cage, but on a couple of occasions when people compare him to Iron Man he responds: "It's Power Man." Then again, "Luke Cage" technically is his codename as his real name was "Carl Lucas" before he changed it to adopt a new identity after escaping prison.
  • Comically Invincible Hero: Almost every fight he gets into is laughably one-sided given he's Nigh Invulnerable. Even knowing he's bulletproof, thugs will always try to shoot him. The question isn't if Luke will beat the mooks but how badly they will get humiliated, and if they're lucky Luke will let them off with a warning after mangling their guns.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: One could even pity the fools that have to deal with him. Nothing short of Jessica, Judas bullets, Danny's Iron Fist technique, or Bushmaster can make him look like he's even trying.
  • Cursed with Awesome: He's super strong, bulletproof, and nigh indestructible... but if something does manage to hurt him, the injuries require extensive, traumatic, and utterly horrific methods to treat. There's also the fact he stated he didn't ask for his powers and dislikes all the attention that comes with it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Diamondback had him framed for a crime he did not commit, had him forced into an underground fighting ring, had him subjected to human experimentation that killed every other subject, and since then, he's been on the run, living under an assumed name. He's also in denial about the fact that his preacher father had an illegitimate son.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He's pretty dry too.
  • Death Glare: His default expression around Kilgrave, suggesting Kilgrave's power is only just stopping Luke from decapitating him on the spot.
    Kilgrave: Tell me what you want. Quickly!
    Luke: To kill you.
  • Destructo-Nookie: Several times with Jessica and later on with Claire.
  • Did Not Think This Through: The biggest and perhaps defining flaw Luke has is that he seldom, if ever, thinks his actions or their consequences through beyond the next move he's going to make. He bankrupts criminals... not anticipating that they'll attempt to immediately try to make their money back by taking it out on the neighborhood. He tries everything to try to remove local underworld powers... not anticipating that other gangsters, perhaps more brutal ones, will try to fill their place. He openly dares criminals to try to do anything about him... not anticipating that they might try sneakier ways of getting to him, like threatening people he loves or bystanders. He stands in front of Cockroach, who's wielding a very large and strange multi-barreled shotgun that Luke has never seen, and despite the fact that Cockroach got this gun specifically in response to Luke's presence and Luke's past experience with an ordinary shotgun almost killing him, he lets the gangster shoot him as a show of bravado and then has the nerve to be surprised that the gun has an effect on him. During his show's second season this gets lampshaded and put down to the emotional, mental, and physical turmoil Luke is under at that time, but it's really something of a longstanding pattern.
  • Does Not Like Guns: He seizes every chance he gets to bend a gun in half.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Luke hates coffee, which makes things awkward in a city as coffee-crazy as New York. Nonetheless, he offers coffee as a pickup line to Misty and Claire. It only worked on Misty.
  • Dope Slap: Luke generally holds back the brunt of his strength on ordinary people, so his move of choice is basically a nonchalant bitchslap. It usually results in some unfortunate punk going face-first into a wall.
  • The Dreaded: It doesn't take long for criminals to learn to run when he shows up.
    Shades: You need to ignore Luke Cage.
    Cottonmouth: How can I? All he needs to do is SHOW UP, and they all scatter like roaches when the lights turn on!
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: At the start of the second season, Luke is having fun being popular in Harlem. This bites him in the ass when he gets knocked on it by Bushmaster. He also learns that he's got zero cred outside of Harlem (especially in Crown Heights, where Bushmaster's based). He then gets fed up with the gang war and starts to show all the gangsters that he's been playing nice... and starts hurting them.
  • Emergency Transformation: He was dying from being jumped by Shades and Comanche when he was placed in the machine that gave him his powers.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Twice actually, although the first time fits much more: Before getting sent to prison and becoming Luke Cage, he was a U.S. Marine (specifically Force Recon). He then was a sheriff's deputy when he got arrested and thrown in Seagate, but presumably his Marines training was far superior to his police training. Once in Seagate, he engages fairly often in boxing and conditioning.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Introduced as an ex-con turned bartender. His solo series reveals that he was the son of a preacher man from Savannah, Georgia, that he was a Marine, and specifically a Force Recon Marine and then a sheriff before he ended up in prison.
  • Eye Scream: When a point-blank shotgun blast causes a buildup of fluid in his skull, his impenetrable skin means Claire has to drain it through his eye, with Jessica desperately trying to hold his head steady during a seizure.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: How Shades finally ends up recognizing Luke.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Spends a good chunk of his time under Kilgrave's control doing this, from staring daggers at him to hobbling his fighting style while attacking Jessica.
  • Foil:
    • He's basically the Netflix equivalent of Captain America. They were both given powers through an experimental procedures to becomes Super Soldiers, both formerly served justice (Cap was a soldier while Luke was a cop), both are Ideal Heroes who are extremely noble compared to their teammates, and both inspire hope to civilians. In-Universe, Cottonmouth even refers to him as "Harlem's Captain America". However the stark contrast is while Cap directly serves his nation and fully endorsed by the government, Luke is a wanted man who operates illegally as a vigilante to clean-up his corrupt city. Furthermore, Cap's record is squeaky clean, while Luke had served time for being wrongly convicted. The similarities grow after Captain America: Civil War, where Cap's own idealistic morals clash with the government and he too becomes a wanted fugitive.
    • He's also one to Oscar Arocho. Both are ex-convicts who had wives before loosing them. However, Luke is a black super-powered human who met his wife in prison before she died at the hands of Kilgrave and a brainwashed Jessica, while Oscar is a hispanic normal human being who whose wife left him when he was sent to prison. They both served as Love Interests for Jessica Jones, but whereas Luke was sympathetic and patient to Jessica before cutting all romantic ties of her upon learning she killed his wife, Oscar was initially hostile and prejudice towards Jessica until he saw her rescue his son, expressing his gratitude towards her, causing and romance between the two.
  • Forgiveness: Luke parts with Jessica on shaky terms in Jessica Jones due to her role in Reva's death. While Luke learns that Jessica was being controlled at the time by Kilgrave, the wounds are still too fresh for the two to reasonably continue their relationship. It's not until his own series that Luke finally learns of Reva's true nature, and was able to finally let go the past. By the time Luke and Jessica meet again in The Defenders, they're back to being on friendly terms. It goes on in his series when his dad returns.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In the Defenders, he's Phlegmatic.
  • Frame-Up: How he ended up in prison.
  • Good vs. Good: Luke and Danny have a brief scuffle the first time they encounter each other in the streets. It takes Claire to get them to see they're on the same side.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Downplayed. Luke was raised by a strict father who frowned upon harsh language, and Luke in turn avoids using it, and was the biggest enforcer of the swear jar in Pop's barbershop. He adopted phrases such as his infamous "Sweet Christmas" from his father instead of cursing. On the rare occasion he does swear they tend to be Precision F Strikes. He's noticeably much looser with his language throughout season 2.
  • Healing Factor: According to the Doctor who helped create him. Luke has the ability to recover from wounds at an accelerated state. Blood loss, brain trauma, or infection. In theory due to the regenerative nature of his cells, Luke may hold the secret to long life and perfect health. He recovered from internal bleeding in a few hours.
  • Heroic Willpower: Downplayed example. Luke is the only person who shows any shred of resistance after initially falling under Kilgrave's influence. He briefly hesitates to follow the first orders Kilgrave gives him, gives Kilgrave a Death Glare and snarks at him instead of fawning over him as most of his victims do, and when Jessica tries to do the I Know You're in There Somewhere, Cage briefly stops, then tells her that he can't push Kilgrave out before he continues attacking her. This happens several times. He also completely changes his fighting style, winding up for huge, easily-avoidable haymakers when earlier fights had shown him using quick, economic moves to disable opponents. Granted, he's fighting Jessica Jones, who has some level of super-durability, but not nearly enough to shrug off Luke's normal attacks.
    Jessica: Please, stop.
    Luke: Do what you gotta do.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Before he was framed, he had no idea whatsoever that Willis Stryker resented him so badly that he would eventually ruin his life. He also didn't know that Reva was a willing participant in everything that went on at Seagate, and pleaded with her to escape before she got dragged into his problems. The former incident led to him having trust issues after escaping, and the latter incident made him realize it was time to move on with his life.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Luke with Jessica. Further emphasized by Luke being very muscular.
  • Human Weapon: He was put through an experimental Super Soldier procedure which gave him bulletproof skin and Super Strength.
  • Humble Hero: Refuses to take payment for his heroic actions (ironic, given that his comic title was "Hero for Hire"), even telling one of the people he saved that he cannot take cash from them because he owes them money.
  • Hunk: Walking beefcake, with chiseled abs and pecs, babyface looks, and a deep, husky voice.
  • Hypocrite: In The Defenders, despite rightly calling Danny out on not using his resources better in his war against the Hand, Luke does come off as a hypocrite in several other respects. He claims that Danny started their fight during the altercation in the alleyway with Cole, when it was Luke that initiated the violence. Luke claims Danny looked like he was going to murder Cole, despite Danny having done nothing excessively violent to a guy who was just caught destroying bodies with acid, which makes Cole an accessory to Mass Murder (You would think an exsheriff deputy like Cage would know that, so whatthehellhero). He calls out Danny for attacking the "lower rung" members of the Hand, using violence and intimidation against them, despite the fact that Luke frequently employed similar tactics to Cottonmouth and Diamondback's criminal groups. In essence, Luke criticizes Danny for behaving exactly like Luke does, solely because Luke personally knew the criminal Danny caught in the act of committing a crime.
  • Iconic Outfit: Luke always wears XXL hoodies with the hood up to keep a low profile. However, the police quickly catch on and put an APB out for large black men in hoodies, which causes a series of mistaken identifications. His hoodies are often riddled with bullet holes, which become a symbol and cultural icon for the citizens of Harlem, who, inspired by Method Man making a song about his own encounter with Luke, start wearing hoodies to show solidarity to Luke and piss off the cops even further.
  • Ideal Hero: Luke is as close as Netflix MCU gets to one. He's extremely righteous, never wishing to stray into anything remotely unlawful like having an affair, tries to avoid swearing, refuses to be paid for his heroics, and initially disliked violence and only went to it as a last resort. Season 2 starts to see him slip from some of this: he's willing to broker deals with crime lords to help keep the peace in Harlem, extorts an admittedly very crooked business man for money to settle a lawsuit out of court, comes to use far more brutal means of taking down foes up to and including brief acts of torture, and treats yet more crime lords to the VIP section of the club Mariah leaves him in the season finale.
  • Immune to Bullets: Deconstructed. While Luke has impervious skin, and as such most bullets harmlessly bounce off him, the force of a point blank shotgun blast can cause major internal injuries which are then difficult to treat. If something actually manages to get inside (say, a bullet made with Chitauri metal), his powers actually make it difficult for it to be removed and make the foreign object more dangerous (his Healing Factor inadvertently pushes the foreign matter in deeper, bringing it closer and closer to his internal organs).
  • Implacable Man: Comes with the territory with being a bulletproof man.
  • Innocently Insensitive: As a child, he used to use the phrase "I'm a Lucas" to explain to Willis why he needed to fight and defend his reputation. He had no idea that Willis is his half-brother, and resents the fact that his last name is "Stryker" because he was The Unfavorite.
  • In the Hood: Usually seen wearing a hoodie. More often than not with bullet holes.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: He's introduced in The Defenders getting out of Seagate thanks to Foggy providing a stellar legal defense.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": He has a Fanboy moment when he meets Method Man after stopping a convenience store robbery. "P.L.O. Style" was his jam back in the day.
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    L - Z 
  • LEGO Genetics: The cinematic universe's explanation for his powers is that he was infused with sea snail DNA.
  • Lightning Bruiser: His 40 yard dash is 3.72 seconds. NFL Combine's record is 4.2 and the unofficial is 4.13. Add his super strength and he is practically a freight train.
  • Logical Weakness: It's discussed in reference to his powerset. While he can't be killed with brute force, he still needs to breathe and thus could be dealt with in other ways. In addition, if something is strong enough to penetrate his skin or cause internal damage, it's next-to-impossible to treat the injury thanks to his otherwise-unbreakable skin.
  • The Lost Lenore: Jessica's last act before escaping Kilgrave was to kill his wife. Naturally, she isn't inclined to let him know about this. Luke is understandably pissed off to learn what really happened, and breaks off all communication with Jessica afterward.
  • Love Interest: He's Jessica's only romantic prospect in the series. There's Ruben, technically, but he never had a shot with a Hunk like Luke around. After that fling doesn't work out, he becomes Claire's second romantic prospect, after her fling with Matt petered out.
  • Loving a Shadow: Luke when he learns that Reva was not the woman he thought she was. Although she did fall in love with him sincerely later, he is shaken by the fact that the woman who used to give him hope in prison was, in fact, working with his tormentors all along and knew everything that they were up to.
  • Mighty Glacier: He's incredibly strong and virtually indestructible, but he's not nearly as acrobatic or quick on his feet as his fellow Defenders. His running speed however is slightly beyond human limit.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Has quite a few shirtless scenes throughout the first season of Jessica Jones, usually before (and after) sex with Jessica. In his own series, while being treated for bullet wounds, he's naked apart from some strategically placed medical equipment.
  • Mythology Gag: A number of references are made to his comic counterpart.
    • Luke's very first on screen appearance had him in a yellow t-shirt and blue jeans, the colors of his original comic book costume.
    • Of course, his iconic catchphrase, "Sweet Christmas!" shows up.
    • The restraints he was in during the experiment that granted him his powers resemble the tiara and bracelets he used to wear in the comics. Once he breaks out of Seagate, he steals some clothes off a washing line which are his classic yellow shirt and blue pants to go with the tiara and bracelets.
    • The suit he's shown wearing as the new owner of Harlem's Paradise in the season two finale is reminiscent of how he appears in the 2016 — 2017 Power Man & Iron Fist comics.
  • New Jobs As The Plot Demands: Luke has had an assortment of jobs over the course of his life. He used to be in the Marines (as the alternative to a jail sentence), then he was a cop. After escaping Seagate, he became a Hell's Kitchen bartender. After the Kilgrave debacle, Luke moves on to be a hair sweeper at Pop's Barbershop as well as a dishwasher at Harlem's Paradise.
  • Nice Guy: Make no mistake, Luke doesn't suffer fools. But all the same, he's drawn to helping people against his better judgment. He is also impeccably polite and respectful and does his best not to upset others.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Thanks to his invulnerable skin, Luke has been completely unfazed by trying to cut into his own abdomen with a circular saw, being attacked by a pack of guard dogs, being hit by a bus, being shot with handguns, and being lit on fire. Even being shot in the head with a shotgun at point-blank range only causes a serious concussion rather than blowing his head clean off. Aside from this the only things capable of harming him are: Judas bullets, Danny's Iron Fist technique, and certain intoxicating substances.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: While Luke isn't exactly a "normal" person, his situation in relation to the wider MCU is this. He's a street level hero with Super Strength, Nigh-Invulnerability, a Healing Factor, and Ideal Illness Immunity. He's so far above regular mooks and even typical mobsters/gangsters that they have no chance against him. Goes even further in season 2 when he's found to have become even stronger.
  • No-Sell:
    • When Luke arrives to break up Zip's gang shaking down Genghis Connie's, Amos attempts to put him down with a solid right hook, which is apparently something he's famous for. Luke doesn't even react to the impact; which ends with Amos breaking his right hand.
    • In his first encounter with Danny, Danny throws a flurry of punches at Luke that don't do anything, until he summons the Iron Fist to give Luke a right hook to the face.
    • With a select few exceptions (a point-blank shotgun blast to the chin, special Judas bullets, and the enhanced punches thrown by Diamondback's Powered Armor or blows from superhumans like Jessica Jones or Danny's Iron Fist), everything is this to him.
  • Not Wearing Tights: He doesn't wear anything even remotely resembling a costume. Justified since he doesn't wear one in the comics either. He does briefly and accidentally don a combination of accessories that resemble his original costume. He quickly gets rid of it because he looks like a fool.
  • N-Word Privileges: He doesn't think black people should have these either, and the only times he says the word himself is when he's berating someone else for using it.
  • Old Shame: In-universe, his canonical 70's outfit revolves around this, but not only this extends to the overall silly look, but also condones a plot recalling from his old prison ID: Tiara.
  • Only Sane Man: Luke is the only Defender whose flaws didn't cause a riff in some major way and his own individual arguments with them were caused by their own flaws rather than his (Matt's secretive tendencies (although he came to an understanding around Matt wanting to keep his identity secret... then everyone called him out again for not bringing up his involvement with Elektra) Danny's impulsiveness, and Jessica Jones being Jessica Jones.)
  • Outside-Context Problem: Neither Cottonmouth nor Mariah had any idea that Luke Cage existed, let alone what he could do, until he simply appeared one day and caused all of their plans to come crashing down. In fact, Luke Cage not even being a native of Harlem makes the two criminals even more angry, because to them he's just an outsider.
    • It also becomes clear the Hand aren't really properly equipped to deal with someone who is every bit as durable as they are strong, in contrast to the Iron Fist. In almost every fight he has involving the Hand he's barely shown breaking a sweat as they desperately try to bring him down, and while at first it seems like the Fingers would be able to match him, he later takes one down - offscreen no less! - with no visible sign of injury or fatigue. Only the absolute strongest of the Hand such as Madame Gao or Elektra are able to get him on the backfoot.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Swearing isn't really his thing — it's even further enforced in Pop's Barbershop, where the old man keeps a "swear jar" whenever somebody uses a profanity. That said, it really sticks out where Luke finally snaps and calls Jessica a "piece of shit" when he learns she killed his wife, albeit under Kilgrave's power.
    • Also swears when Pops' barbershop is riddled with bullets. As the old man lays dying, he frantically screams "Someone call a goddamn ambulance!" Pops uses one of his last breaths to remind him to put money in the swear jar.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Downplayed Trope but this is his season 2's storyline in a nut shell. The stress of heroes work without pay and the celebrity status that comes with it contributed to his Anger Issue. This led to him alienating his allies, isolating himself and taking more drastic measures in dealing with gangs in Harlem. This culminated in him turning Harlem into a Protectorate by making deals with criminal groups and overseeing his "kingdom" from Harlem Paradise, the Evil Lair of the Stokes.
  • Rated M for Manly: A 6'3" tall, bulletproof, super strong black man named Luke Cage.
  • Really Gets Around: He probably has more named romantic partners than any of the other characters: Reva, Gina, Jessica, Misty, and Claire.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Despite repeatedly saying that he's not a hero, Luke always finds a way to get himself involved in saving people's lives.
  • Scary Black Man: He wasn't a pushover before he gained his powers. After he did, well, Sweet Christmas. Funnily enough, in Jessica Jones (2015) whenever he tries to invoke the trope it fails.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After realizing any attempt he made to attack Kilgrave would just put others in danger, Luke moves from Hell's Kitchen to Harlem, since Pop is one of Reva's people. He later prepares to run when Cottonmouth tries to blackmail him, but is persuaded by Claire to stay and help the public.
  • Semper Fi: Two brief bits of dialogue reveal he was a Marine, specifically a Force Recon Marine.
  • Shooting Superman: Zigzagged. Just as Cottonmouth says, he simply has to show up and criminals start running. Other times it's played straight, either because they haven't heard of him (like Domingo's guys), get startled, or are just plain stupid (like Zip).
    • A fourth reason comes up when Luke lampshades this at the start of season two:
    Luke: Really, guys?
  • Smug Super: Though he's been knocked down and almost outright skilled enough to know otherwise, Luke is overwhelmingly confident in his ability to tank damage since he lives in a part of New York where he is the strongest and toughest meta human on the block. The inciting incident of his show's second season has a video of him being soundly thrashed and beaten by a barehanded John "Bushmaster" Mclver go viral, shaking the Harlem community's faith in his ability to protect him.
  • So Last Season: Judas bullets end up in this category, as the treatment he went through to recover from the one that nearly killed him ended up increasing his Super Toughness even further. Come season 2, and getting shot with a Judas bullet at close range doesn't even break his skin.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Cottonmouth even notes how Carl Lucas is "a square-ass name, man. Oh, if my mama named me that, I'd change my name to Luke Cage, too."
  • Stone Wall: Typically uses his powers in this role, shielding civilians from gunfire with his own body. Becomes even more pronounced when he fights alongside the Defenders who are more agile but less impervious to harm.
  • Strong and Skilled: Played with. Luke is actually a man with vast martial arts expertise, in addition to his powers, although in his case he has to hold back so much that he is reduced to using childishly simplistic movements when fighting non-powered opponents, making him seem Unskilled, but Strong when he really is this trope. However his fighting skill still pales in comparison to actual martial arts masters like Danny Rand or Bushmaster who are among the few able to put the hurt on him combined with their own strengths. After Bushmaster curb stomps him in their battles, Luke adapts to his fighting style and gains the upper hand in their later rematches (and only loses the second match when Bushmaster used paralyzing dust on him when it became clear Luke was winning.)
  • Super Hero Origin: Experimentation during his prison years was what granted Luke his bullet proof skin.
  • Super Strength: Luke is superhumanly strong due to the experiment he was involved in. This allows him to easily backhand a man across a room, punch through concrete, rip the door off a car with his bare hands, and so on.
  • Super Toughness: Thanks to the experiment he was involved in, Luke gained superhumanly tough skin that is completely invulnerable to any known harm. With enough force, his internal organs can still take damage but that's it. Even his organs are extremely dense. Even an alien super bullet designed to pierce steel and explode doesn't kill him outright. While agonizing, having a grenade level explosion go off internally doesn't kill him. In fact, the shrapnel from the explosion is more life threatening then the explosion itself.
  • Team Dad: He's the conciliator in the Defenders. According to Mike Colter, “I’m the guy, the wisdom. If you want to make sure something works, run it up the flagpole.”
  • Tell Me How You Fight: He has an extremely defensive fighting style, relying on his invulnerability to just let people break themselves upon him. He prefers quick and efficient counterattacks rather than making attacks himself.
  • Terror Hero: Eventually relishes in this. After constantly wreaking havoc on Cottonmouth's men without suffering a scratch, the thugs on the street run the second they see him.
  • That Man Is Dead: He no longer thinks of himself by his original name of Carl Lucas.
    "Carl Lucas died in Seagate."
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Even thought Luke can tear people apart with his bare hands, and has been driven close to it several times (for many good reasons), he has never taken a life and is adamant in his desire not to do so.
  • Token Minority: The one black member of the Defenders, since Matt, Jessica, and Danny are all Caucasian.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The experiment he took at the end in season 1 upgrade his invulnerability to the point he can tank point blank Judas bullet.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: By Season 2 Luke developed serious anger issues, even in The Defenders he was the one that needed the most convincing to kill and was he most laidback of the group. By Season 2 he starts issuing threats and doesn't mind roughing up criminals beyond what is needed.
  • Tragic Keepsake: He hangs on to Pop's swear jar after he is killed.
  • Tranquil Fury: He rarely raises his voice or curses, even when it gets to the point where he wants to end whoever pissed him off.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: His fighting style is just what you'd expect from someone who mostly doesn't have to worry about getting hurt, just pure strength without any fancy moves. Flashbacks to before his powers shows that he could use finesse if he needed to, but holding back his strength so he doesn't kill someone takes most of his focus. That said, the fact that he was a member of the Marine Forces, as well as a successful amateur boxer since at least high school, indicates that he certainly knows how to fight.
    • However, when push comes to shove, i.e., when he encounters those with abilities that allows to fight with him on an even footing, or when he feels like it, he brings out his skills, though they are a bit rusty from disuse
      • We get our first hints of this during Luke's first fight in Cottonmouth's club against four mooks. He expertly counters every one of their attacks and they don't land a single hit
      • After getting beat up by Bushmaster through ambush, during their rematches Luke breaks out his grappling skills to even the ground before pummelling him with boxing moves.
      • Then there's also his fights with Black Sky and Diamondback.
  • Working-Class Hero: He deals with street crime in Harlem.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: He spends the first two episodes of his show refusing all attempts to get him to be a hero, but is finally driven to it by Pop's death. He ends the episode by invoking Crispus Attucks, the highly renowned first black American hero whose name is now adorning Mariah's stashhouse, declaring he'll now be taking his place in that legacy.
  • You Are in Command Now: A rare instance where the villain does so for the hero. After Mariah dies, she leaves Harlem's Paradise to Luke Cage in her will, effectively making him the new "King of Harlem".
  • You Are the New Trend: Luke started a trend of the black community of Harlem wearing hoodies with bullet holes in them. Knowing the cops are after him, the civilians intentionally wore Luke's trademark outfit to annoy the cops and make it harder to find him.


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