Luke was an important character in Jessica Jones before getting his own series. He thus has ample screen time, giving him a detailed background and rich personality. He’s the most powerful Defenders member. And his series makes Harlem, a newly detailed addition to the MCU and potential campaign setting rife with conflict, truly come alive.
His series’ first season was critically acclaimed. The MCU in general has gotten pretty good reviews across the board, but Luke’s series is arguably the most well received netting both the highest ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. So yeah, if you basically haven’t seen it then you are missing out.
The Netflix Luke Cage coverage goes:
- Luke Cage (Netflix version) – Origins ‘n’ J. Jones (this here profile)
- Luke Cage (Netflix version) – Hero of Harlem.
- Luke Cage (Netflix version) – Quotes and game stats.
- Real Name: Carl Lucas.
- Other Aliases: Luke Cage, Iron Man.
- Marital Status: Widowed.
- Known Relatives: James Lucas (father, estranged), Etta Lucas (mother, estranged), Willis “Diamondback” Stryker (half brother), Reva Connors (wife, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: New York.
- Height: 6’3″ Weight: 206 lbs.
- Eyes: Brown Hair: Black
Powers & Abilities
Cage’s forte is that he is superhumanly strong. He can punch through concrete, brick, and reinforced steel doors as if they were made of paper.
Furthermore, he is nearly immune to street and even military grade weaponry. His superhuman durability cannot be underestimated even when going against highly skilled fighters or superhuman foes. In DC Heroes RPG terms, he has little need to use his Hero Points and keeps them for LDD just in case.
He was a skilled fighter before he gained his powers, making him all the more dangerous in combat.
His fight against Jessica Jones while he was under Killgrave’s control was largely one sided given. He was being mind-controlled and thus not able to spend Hero Points. Yet in the end she was mostly on the run. She was only able to defeat him after the cops distracted Cage just long enough to crawl to the squad car and blast him in the face with a shotgun.
Jones likely spent every single Hero Point she had in that fight.
Against Stryker — when he donned the Hammer enhanced armor — Luke clearly had the advantage from the get go. He could’ve easily ended the fight earlier had he chose to start spending Hero Points. He also could’ve ripped the power pack off the back rather than try to resolve it peacefully by letting Stryker burn the armor out.
Even against highly skilled martial artists with mystical powers he still comes out well on top. Danny’s Iron Fist was able to hurt him and the Fingers of the Hand had some sort of striking skill that allowed them to negate some points of his Skin Armor. Yet it’s unlikely that any of them would be able to defeat him in single combat.
None of them do enough damage to really put the hurt on him.
A likely outcome is that it would be a rather tedious battle for him in that he would take a few minor points in damage, but just keep getting back up and all it would really take for him to end the fight would be one or two good shots.
He’s notably skilled in legwork. Cage was able to track down several individuals with relative ease whereas Cottonmouth and his army of thugs couldn’t even after tearing up the streets.
As a proud African-American, he also seemed knowledgeable about his people’s history.
Luke Cage was originally born as Carl Lucas. He was the son of a charismatic and influential preacher in Savanna, Georgia. James and Etta Lucas had tried for years to conceive a child. Thus when Carl was finally born he was dubbed the “miracle baby.”
He grew up alongside and became best friends with Willis Stryker, who unbeknownst to him was actually his half brother. Willis had been conceived in a dalliance between his preacher father and his father’s secretary. From second hand accounts it seems that James was a fairly good father to his legitimate son Carl. But almost entirely ignored his illegitimate son Willis.
Carl grew up to be an athletic and generally well liked teenager in his community. He later proved to be an excellent football player. Through unknown circumstances he was jumped by a thug and badly beaten one night. He then asked his best friend Willis to train him boxing.
After some time training he was able to track down the thug who’d previously beaten him. Carl then prevailed in a fair fight.
Not long after this incident Carl and Willis stole a red Corvette and took it for a joyride. While they were busy arguing over who was the better musician, Prince or Michael Jackson, a police officer crept up on them and arrested them both.
Preacher James Lucas then used his charisma and influence to get leniency for Carl. Bu he left Willis to fend for himself. Carl was offered an opportunity to join the Marine Corp to avoid jail time, which he took. Meanwhile, Willis was sent to jail. Humiliation and bitterness over this would cause him to swear vengeance upon his half brother.
Carl served a tour of duty in Force Recon. He then quit to return to his hometown and join the Savanna Police Department. He only served a year on the Department before being arrested and sent to Seagate Prison for an unspecified crime.
Life in a Locked Cage
His first day in prison drew the attention of Albert Rackham, a corrupt and racist prison guard. Rackham suspected that Carl may have been framed. The sadistic Rackham dispatched inmates Shades and Comanche to his cell at night in an attempt to break him.
Although Carl initially received a savage beating, he was a far superior fighter. Thus, he turned the tables on his attackers. Rackham had watched the entire altercation unfold. he became obsessed with this prisoner.
Lucas was then sent to solitary confinement. Rackham approached him and offered him to participate in his illegal underground pit fights. Carl declined the offer, which he compared it to slavery.
The next day, Lucas saw Comanche in the yard and became enraged. He picked up one of the weights with the intention of braining his attacker. he was stopped by Squabbles, his only friend.
Lucas also came to the attention of Reva Connors, the prison councilor. Reva noticed that he didn’t really talk much during the sessions. She also got the feeling that Carl really didn’t belong in prison. During their time in Seagate the two would eventually grow much closer.
While all this was happening there were mysterious rumors floating around the prison. Allegedly, experiments were being performed on the inmates in exchange for reduced sentences. Connors and the rest of the staff did their best to dissuade any of this from spreading. But the rumors never really seemed to go away.
Lucas was once again asked by Rackham to participate in his pit fights and offered even more benefits. He again declined. But this time Rackham had Squabbles framed for the stabbing of another inmate. Rackham promised that Squabbles would get lenient treatment if Lucas agreed to fight and this time. Carl finally accepted.
His first fight brought him up against Comanche and he once again prevailed. His victory also ensured that all eyes in the prison were suddenly on him.
Reva was shocked to see how bruised up Lucas had gotten from his last fight. He had already grown weary of the underground fights. With the help of Reva and Squabbles he attempted to expose the corruption within the prison. This plan would never come to fruition though.
Comanche and Shades had become suspicious and beat the information out of Squabble shortly thereafter. They once again jumped Lucas. This time, they beat him badly enough to send him to the infirmary.
In intensive care, Lucas for his life. The severely wounded convict came under the care of Dr. Noah Bernstein, who had been watching him the entire time.
It was true that Bernstein, the mysterious figure behind the experiments on inmates, had been initially excited about experimenting on a strong man like Lucas. But he reasoned that he was in such bad shape that any experiments would likely kill him. It was only at Connor’s insistence that Bernstein agreed to experiment on him.
Luke Cage is Born
Bernstein began the procedure by placing Lucas in a vat, but it was interrupted by an enraged Rackham. Seeking vengeance against Lucas, he started smashing up equipment. The resulting explosion killed him and knocked Bernstein out.
Carl emerged from the botched procedure fully healed. Furthermore, he was now imbued with super human strength and endurance. Thus, it took little for him to break out of prison and walk away a free man. After escaping and finding some clothes he called Connors. The two met at a nearby hotel.
Lucas shaved to change his appearance. Connors deleted all records of him from the system. She explained that while she could delete his prison records there would be other records of him, from before entering the prison system. At this point he decided to change his name and Luke Cage was born.
Cage and Connors fell in love and got married. However, Reva was killed in a bus accident under mysterious circumstances. The enraged Cage set out on his own to find the truth. This led him to the building in front of which she had been killed. Carl discovered a mysterious lock box, once hidden under the concrete. It had recently been dug up and was empty.
Enters Jessica Jones
In Jessica Jones, it is shown that Luke eventually opened his own bar in Hell’s Kitchen. He was trying to adjust to normal life. He avoided any sort of trouble, conflict, or complications.
Unbeknownst to him one of his regular costumers, whom he had been sleeping with, was married. Her husband hired a private detective, one Jessica Jones. Jones tailed Cage, took pictures of them having sex, and submitted them to the customer’s husband.
Jessica, feeling an odd mix of guilt and attraction to Cage, ended lurking outside his bar one night. She met Luke when he took the trash out. They flirted a bit and he persuaded her to come in and have a drink. Not long after that the two had sex.
Due to intimacy issues from her previous torment at Killgrave’s hands, Jessica left almost immediately after they were finished. She only gave a brief half mumbled apology.
The next night two police officers arrived in his bar to question Cage about Jones. She was being investigated for a murder. They showed him photos of the married woman that Jones had taken, upsetting Cage over this violation. Jones arrived shortly after this, trying to her best to explain herself. He demanded that she leave his bar and she complied.
And then she doesn’t leave
Luke rebuffed the advances of his married lover. He didn’t sleep with married women as that meant too many complications. He was correct in his assessment as the following night, her husband and his rugby buddies made the ill-advised decision to rough Cage up. Jessica Jones, who at this point desperately wanted to make things right with Cage, was also on hand when fight broke out.
Luke witnessed her almost effortlessly throw a man far larger than her across the bar before easily subduing his attackers. Towards the end of the brawl one of the men stabbed Cage in the back of the neck with a knife and the blade broke bouncing off Cage’s superhuman skin.
Cage later went to Jessica’s home to confront her on her enhanced abilities. He first demonstrated his by taking a buzz saw to his abs. His hardened skin broke the tool and was left without a scratch. The two then began playfully pawing each other to test out the other’s strength before having sex again (and breaking the bed).
They later went back to Cage’s apartment for more sex. But Jessica found a picture of Cage’s deceased wife in the bathroom. Confused and angry she left in a huff.
Cage later got another potential lead of his wife’s death. He enlisted Jones with her PI skills. She initially refused, but he pointed out that she owed him for taking the pictures and causing a ruckus in his bar.
Jones also explained her sordid past to Cage. She revealed that she had been mind controlled into being a sex slave by another superhuman named Killgrave.
The two then went to one Antoine Grier’s apartment the following day. A search revealed that he had gone into hiding. Jones called his cell phone to tell him that he had won an X-box to draw him out. On their way, the duo was confronted by one Len Sirkes’s men. These were also looking for Antoine.
When Jones and Cage found Antoine in a warehouse full of marijuana, Sirkes found them as well. After a brief scuffle Cage “persuaded” Antoine to hand over a file with more details about his wife’s death. The file basically stated that his wife had been killed when she was hit by a drunk bus driver. Enraged Cage tracked the bus driver down and threw him through the bus’s windshield.
He was about to kill the man when Jones arrived. She talked him out of it by revealing that she had been the one that killed his wife while under the control of Killgrave. The frustrated Cage began to question Jessica’s true motives and angrily stormed off.
Cage later encountered Killgrave. He charged him, fully intent on killing the sadist. Killgrave saw him coming and mind controlled him into stopping. He questioned Cage about his relationship with Jessica. He then mind controlled him to participate in his ongoing campaign of terror against the PI.
Cage was forced to blow up his own bar just as Jessica came to meet him. His indestructible skin saved him once again. The two then teamed up to track down Killgrave. They discovered that he had a team of scientists working on a serum to further enhance his powers.
Next, they discovered a club he had been using to test his improved powers. Killgrave knew that they had been tracking his movements, and confronted Jones. She told Cage to leave, so that Killgrave wouldn’t be able to control him again. as to Jones, she had become immune to Killgrave’s powers.
Killgrave had come prepared for their confrontation with an ace up his sleeve. His improved powers now lasted far longer. He had been controlling Luke all along in order to keep tabs on Jessica. Fearing for his safety he ordered Cage to kill Jessica. While Luke showed some hesitation he was not able to resist the command.
It became clear that Cage was far tougher than Jones and she didn’t stand a chance. She was also trapped in the building. After a desperate struggle they did end up outside. Jones, left with no other option, shot Cage under the chin at pointblank range with shotgun from a nearby police cruiser.
The shot gravely wounded Cage. Fearing for his life she rushed him to the nearby Metro-General Hospital. The hospital staff were unable to treat his injuries, as his steel like skin prevented them from operating on him.
Nurse Claire Temple was there as well. Having had her own encounters with enhanced people knew that keeping him in the hospital was useless. She helped Jones sneak him out of the building and back to Jones’ Alias Investigation office.
When they got him there he went into seizures. Claire was able to stabilize him by inserting a syringe through his eyeball and draining out some spinal fluid. Jessica eventually had to leave to pursue Killgrave again. But she did persuade Claire to stay behind and care for Luke. Cage eventually awoke, but slipped out of the apartment to go his own way.
Cage eventually settled down in Harlem. By day he was a janitor at Pop’s barber shop. At night he washed dishes in Harlem’s Paradise. Both jobs paid less than minimum wage, being off the books. Despite struggling to pay his bills Cage never complained. He was content to live in anonymity and not draw attention to himself.
Pop, previously a childhood acquaintance of his widow Reva, constantly encouraged him to use his powers for good. But Cage steadfastly declined saying that he just wanted to live a normal life. His reception at Harlem’s Paradise was quite different.
Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, a well known crime lord, noted that Cage’s intimidating physique. He stated that he could make far more money by acting as hired muscle for his crime syndicate. Cage declined this offer as well.
One night while working at Paradise he was asked to tend bar to fill in for a sick employee. While working the bar he met Misty Knight. After a bit of flirting the two later ran into each other on the street. They eventually wound up back at Cage’s and had sex.
Fight or Flight?
During his time in Harlem — and particularly at Paradise — Cage noticed shady things going on. So far he had kept his mouth shut and his head down. But that all changed one night when he noticed Shades, one of his former tormentors from prison, walk into the kitchen while he was working.
Cage went home that night and silently contemplated his next action now that Shade was around. He could stay and do something about all the crime in Harlem or run away and try to make a life for himself elsewhere.
Later that night, he noticed that Zip and a few of Cottonmouth’s thugs were shaking down a restaurant owner to fund Mariah Dillard’s political campaign. When the restaurateurs refused the thugs started trashing the shop. Cage went in and peaceably told the thugs to depart. They laughed at him and attacked. One broke his fist and another broke a baseball bat against Cage’s skin.
The next day Cottonmouth walked into Pop’s for a shave with a few of this thugs in tow. After trading a bit of banter he left. Pop said that Cottonmouth had killed a man the night before. He asked Cage to find one Chico Diaz to protect him from the criminal. Pop convinced Luke as he owed him for keeping both his past and his powers a secret.
A favour for Pop
Cage found Diaz the next day hiding out in a hotel room. He still had the money that he had stolen from Cottonmouth. Cage asked him to return with him to Pop’s barber shop. It was considered neutral ground, so they could arranged for a parlay with Cottonmouth. Chico angrily refused and Cage left him alone.
Cage returned to Pop’s to inform him that Chico wouldn’t be coming. Pop told him about his past as a gang enforced. He explained that setting up his barber shop as neutral ground was his way of making amends. When they returned to the barber shop, much to their surprise, Chico snuck in the back. he decided to hide out there until they could set up a meeting with Cottonmouth.
Cage went back to Harlem’s Paradise to set the parlay up. This was a tense discussion. Cage then returned to Pop’s to update him. But one of Cottonmouth’s thugs, named Tone, had spotted Diaz, and took an unwelcome initiative involving gunfire. Cage was able to mostly shield Chico, but Pop was killed.
Cottonmouth claimed he had executed Tone for his transgression. He then paid for Pop’s funeral, mocking Cage for having no money and for losing both his jobs.
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Source of Character: Jessica Jones and Luke Cage TV-series Season 1 and Defenders Season 1.
Helper(s): Sébastien Andrivet, Pufnstuff, drphibes, Pawsplay, Darci, Alfonso Jermaine Turnage, Roy Cowan, Mike Davis, Adam Fuqua.
Writeup completed on November 7th, 2017.