Netflix is about to debut the third pillar of its Marvel lineup, "Luke Cage."
This new series will build on the foundation established by shows like "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones" and showcase the most bad-ass hero in the Marvel Universe.
Not familiar with Luke Cage? Don't worry, we're breaking down everything you need to know about the new series to dive right in, regardless of whether you've watched the other Netflix marvel shows.
1. It's a Follow-up to "Jessica Jones"
One thing that sets this series apart from "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones" is that its lead hero is already established before the first episode.
Mike Colter played a recurring role as Luke Cage in the first season of "Jessica Jones." This series will pick up several months after that one ended, with Luke returning to Harlem and beginning to use his superhuman strength and durability. Look for this season to delve deeper into Luke's past, even as he battles a new and dangerous threat to the citizens of Harlem.
2. The Harlem Setting Is Key
Unlike "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones," which both took place in New York's Hell's Kitchen, Luke Cage" will take place in Harlem. That's not a minor detail; Harlem is crucial to Luke's origin story, and it's a place that allows him to carve out his own little corner of the live-action Marvel Universe.
The Harlem setting is also important because it allows the show to feature a predominantly African-American cast. With all the deserved calls for increased diversity in superhero movies and TV shows, "Luke Cage" will serve as an important step forward for fans.
3. A Hero Is Only as Good as His Villain
Between Kingpin and Kilgrave, Netflix's Marvel shows have set a very high standard when it comes to villainy. All signs indicate that "Cage" will continue that trend.
This series' main villain is Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali, above), a crime lord and nightclub owner with ties to Luke's past. He'll be joined by Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), a local politician (and Stokes' cousin) who is torn between family loyalty and her desire to improve Harlem. Whether or not she is as bad as her cousin remains to be seen.
This is actually Woodard's second appearance in the MCU this year. She also played the grieving mother who accosted Tony Stark in "Captain America: Civil War." The two characters aren't connected.
4. This Isn't Your Typical Marvel Show
"Cage" will also stand apart from the crowd, thanks to a very hip-hop-influenced sense of style. That includes the performances, with Mahershala Ali revealing that he modeled his character after the late rapper Biggie Smalls. The phrase "neo-blaxploitation" has been used to describe the tone of the series.
The hip-hop approach definitely extends to the music, as well. "Black Dynamite" composer Adrian Younge and A Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad teamed up to compose the score. This may be the first MCU project since "Guardians of the Galaxy" that really compels viewers to rush out and buy the soundtrack album.
5. Several Familiar Faces Will Return
Netflix's interconnected Marvel Universe is growing more complex with each new season that debuts, and "Luke Cage" will continue to build and expand upon what's come before. Look for several familiar faces to return in these 13 episodes, including the intrepid nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), mob enforcer Turk Barrett (Rob Morgan), and even Luke's late wife, Reva (Parisa Fitz-Henley).
While Netflix is slowly building towards the team-based series "The Defenders," we don't know if we'll see characters like Daredevil or Jessica (Krysten Ritter) in this season. We're keeping our fingers crossed for some cameo appearances, and maybe even a nod to Luke's future partner, Iron Fist (Finn Jones).
However, do expect one Marvel hero to play a major role this season. Luke will be joined by Misty Knight (Simone Missick, above), an NYPD detective who may or may not have superhuman powers and who shares Luke's desire to clean up Harlem at any cost.
Early reviews are already describing Missick at the show's breakout star.
"Luke Cage" punches into your queue Friday.