The Wackness of Marvel's Luke Cage
Everyone seems to love the racial discourse of Marvel’s Luke Cage for some reason. Most people believe that it is a thought-provoking conversation on contemporary race. I look at it as a 13-hour spat of respectability. Not because of the symbolism of a bulletproof Black man or the conversation on the American prison systems: It’s because Luke Cage is the wackest character I have ever seen in my life.
It’s like someone took a mansplanations and Respectability Politics and thought. “You know what? This would make for such a compelling character! Let’s give him invulnerability and a penchant for making bad situations, worse.” It could be tolerable if he wasn’t given so many monologues, but he is. And they’re awful. One moment, we see his character ridiculing a stick-up kid outside of a project about why he isn’t a n*gga and the connotation for the word and how destructiveness of it before spinning around and pressing a gun to his head while grunting: “Pull the Trigger, N*GGUH!”
The character feels like a white man’s idea of woke-ness. A caricature of consciousness. Someone who is self-aggrandizing and pompous. Someone who roots himself in the image of the Black man – and the Black man only. He refutes any stance that might glance at Blackness not performed to appeal to western standards and prances around begging for power (to give to others) when he can take the power (to give to others). In Marvel’S The Defenders, he goes as far as to claim the only way any of the heroes could actually make significant changes in their lives is through the accumulated wealth and white face of Danny Rand. The wackness in this particular monologue is that he seems to actually envy Danny and not just his wealth, but the accumulated years of privilege born of rage and violence that comes with it.
Luke Cage’s character is reminiscent of many Black men who approach social issues with this level of respectability and condescension; all of their discourse and concern isn’t in true liberation. In fact, it’s rooted in oppression. Much like Danny Rand, a privileged and entitled white man who fell into a single outlier that leaves him oppressed in one way, Luke Cage is only concerned in the thing that is keeping him and the “Young Black Men of Harlem” down: race. Not in the social forces oppressing all Black People – including the women who seem to take a backseat to his efforts of saving the black man from the perils of the N-word and the economic issues forcing young men into a life of crime – no, instead he is trying to become equal, only. Never better. Never united, just equal, as if being on the same peg of today’s Eurocentric masculinity is anything to be proud of. As if being beyond the millions of men and women dying under the name N*GGA or taking the title of trash and making it a vanity of culture and ancestry for tribes without roots is something beneath him.
Luke Cage is wack because his mindset is wack and his ego is unchecked, but luckily, we can look forward to the truest Black Hero: T’challa, of Wakanda, our faith is in you.