Mike Colter - How Marvel Modernized "Luke Cage"

October 20, 2016 - Mike Colter 10/20/2016 Views: 23,470

Mike Colter, star of "Marvel's Luke Cage," talks about his role in the updated superhero story and explains how the series incorporates contemporary social issues. (4:53)

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-(laughter)-Please welcome Mike Colter!

(cheers and applause)

Mike! All right, Mike,I am new to this, all right?

-They just threw me in here.-As did I.

-They threw me in, as well.That's it. -Ooh!

-Yeah, it's kind of... Yeah.-What is a Luke Cage?

-Okay, Luke Cage.-(laughter)

-It's a person, right? It's a...-It is person.

That name is so strong."Is that a person?"

-Yeah, right?-Yeah. Is that a person? Um...

Yeah, it's, like, a president,a cage.

-Does it hold a bird of sorts?-Is it a hold...?

It's a guy who took the namebecause he needed another name,

-and it was a great name, right?-Great name.

You know, so he took this name

-because he basically becamea fugitive on the run. -Mm-hmm.

And, so, "Cage" seemedlike a cool name

that nobody would pay attentionto, which I...

I don't thinkthat's a good name, but...

It's a pretty strong name.So it was a subtle name.

And he sounds guilty,I got to be honest with you.

Yeah, it was like, "Cage."Oh, a subtle name.

"Luke Cage?Yeah, that guy did it."

-Yeah. Luke Cage?-(laughter)

-Luke Cage did it? Yeah?-Luke Cage definitely did it.

And, uh, so he escapes,but in prison,

he basicallywas wrongly-convicted,

and he got these powersthrough this illegal experiment

that basically left himwith this super strength,

this unbreakable skinand, uh, this, uh,

this irresistible charm.

(cheers and applause)

-So this is a documentary?-(laughter)

More or less.More or less, yeah.

-Yeah. -Okay.Okay, so he's a superhero.

-Yeah.-All right.

-Now that's a very modern tale.-Mm-hmm.

-Would you say that? -It isin a sense, because, you know,

-this character started in 1972.-Very modern.

-Incredibly modern.-So that was very modern.

Incredibly modern with all thesestories about Watergate and

-everything like that, so it's,like... -They know bell bottoms.

-They come back around. -Yeah,right? That's what I hear.

You know, so we said,let's put a spin on it,

and we basically wantedto change all the haircuts,

change all the clothing,and kind of keep the theme

of being in Harlemand Harlem being its own place.

Because, you know,the Netflix show,

this whole worldthat we've created,

kind of... basically takes placein Hell's Kitchen.

So we kind of took it uptown.And in doing so, we basically

-gave it a whole new flavor.-'Cause that's where... that's

-where the funk is, right?-That's where the funk is.

-That's what I've heard. -That'swhere all the good stuff is.

All the good food,all the good music, you know...

So he has a swagger.So he goes uptown

and basically tries to lay low,

and in doing so,he finds more trouble.

That's what makes good dramason television, right?

-More trouble.-You guys like more trouble?

-You like more trouble?-(cheering, whooping, applause)

(laughs)They love trouble.

But it's-it's a big deal.

-Yeah. -It's a black superheroin this day and age.

How do you grapplewith something like that?

You know, what's weird about itis that I really...

I didn't realizehow relevant the show would be

until I took the part.

For me as an actor,I'm looking at a show going,

is this a characterthat I want to play,

is this somethingthat I haven't done before,

will it expand, you know...will it basically challenge me?

And it did all those things.

But then afterI took on the role,

I started realizinghow relevant it was,

especially nowwith the political climate

being what it is, you know.

The world right now,especially, you know,

with the Black Lives Matter--

which is notwhat we set out to do.

We weren't setting outto make a show about that.

It just... it just seems aproposthat this guy's bulletproof

in this time and daywhere black men

are being shot sometimesfor no reason.

So it kind of resonateswith people.

Um, that is one aspect about itthat I did not anticipate,

and so I'm happyto say that somehow,

some way, shape or form,we're kind of, you know,

making people pay attentionin a different way.

Do you feel likethat's a responsibility

of a modern superhero tale?

You know, I think first andforemost we have to entertain.

I think people turn thetelevision on to be entertained.

They don't want to alwaysbe reminded of the world,

'cause they want to escapea little bit.

But in this case,I think Luke Cage resonates

because we have a guy who was,again, wrongly convicted...

-You keep saying that.-Wrongly.

-He was wrongly convicted.-You say it like he's guilty.

-(laughter) -I swearhe didn't do it. I swear.

-I swear, I swear. I swear.-Yeah.

But what's fun is thathe doesn't harp on that,

because it's not like, okay,he got sent to prison,

he's worried about it,he's walking around, you know,

you know, licking his woundsand talking about, "Woe is me."

That's not what he is--he's a guy who's moving forward.

He's not thinkingabout the past.

And so what I think is relevantin this country is that

we have people, you know,who were sent to prison

because the system is set upto basically keep it full.

I mean, they can't have a prisonwithout prisoners.

So in that sense, he's one ofthose people that you look at

and you go, wait a minute,how does this happen?

You know, you have a systemthat's set in place,

that you need people to be thereto get free labor,

and this is what this country'sbeen built on,

and so we wonder whythe prison system's always full.

It's kind of...it's kind of a weird thing,

but he's a part of that system,and out of that system

was born a superhero,so it's kind of a unique tale.

Now, uh, you have a kid, right?

I do have a little one--16 months old, yeah.

What's it like to be a superheroand have a child?

Is that, uh,is that pretty darn cool?

Does that addextra responsibility to you?

It keeps you grounded, becausewhen I'm with my 16-month-old,

she doesn't knowwhat's going on.

She just knows I'm Daddy,she knows that she wants

to take everythingout of the cabinets

and pull everything outand just, like, make a mess.

-She sounds like an idiot.-(laughter)

At that age, I thinkthat's what they call them.

-Yeah, "little idiots."-All right, yeah, well...

Well, good luckwith that little idiot.

-All right.-Marvel's Luke Cage

is currently streamingon Netflix. Mike Colter.