Everything You Need to Know to Binge-Watch 'Marvel's Luke Cage'

by John Boone 7:00 AM PDT, September 30, 2016
Photo: Netflix

Marvel's Luke Cage is here! All together now: Sweet _______________!

If you need help filling in that blank -- that'd be "Sweet Christmas!" -- you've come to the right place. All 13 episodes of Netflix’s third Marvel series dropped at midnight and whether you're tuning in because Luke Cage is the first black superhero to front his own project -- about damn time -- or for how good Mike Colter looks in a fitted tee, you might have a few questions. Before you binge, we have the answers.

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Photo: Netflix

Wait...Who Is Luke Cage? Perhaps you know him as Power Man? Luke has been punching his way through Marvel comics since '72, when he was framed for a crime and underwent experimental procedures in prison that gave him his super strength and unbreakable skin. Luke -- played by Mike Colter -- made his onscreen debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe last year in Jessica Jones.

Photo: Netflix

Do I Need to Watch Jessica Jones to Understand Luke Cage? The short answer: no. Long answer: this series picks up five or so months after the events of Jessica Jones and anything you absolutely need to know will be re-explained. Here's the gist of it, anyway: Luke owned a bar. It blew up. He and Jessica had a looooot of sex. (She's the "rebound girl" mentioned in episode one.) She killed his wife while under mind control. They went their separate ways.

"They are pieces of a puzzle," Marvel's Head of TV, Jeph Loeb, told ET of the various Netflix series. "We're hoping that you enjoy [these seasons] like novels, that you would enjoy each as it stands alone, but if you put them all together, it is a much larger canvas we're working with...Marvel's Jessica Jones told the story through Jessica's eyes -- as it should be -- so it was very much her POV of who Luke is. We're now getting to see Luke in his own world and in his own POV and what happened along the way. So, hopefully what will happen is people will watch Marvel's Luke Cage and then go back and watch Jessica Jones and go, 'Now I have a greater understanding as to why he is the way that he is in that show.'"

Photo: Netflix

Is Krysten Ritter Even in This? Nope. At least, not in the first seven episodes -- so there's still a chance she could pop up. If a brunette with superhuman strength drops in, that's Jessica.

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Photo: Netflix

But What About His Super Powers? Doesn't He Have Those Already? Yes, he does. We saw him test the limits of his invincibility on Jessica Jones and when Luke Cage begins, he's well accustomed to being bulletproof. That said, we haven't seen how he got his powers. In Jessica Jones, he made an offhand mention of "experiments." That Easter egg is fully fleshed out into his origin story in episode four.

Photo: Netflix

Anyone Else I Need to Remember? Here's one that you don't: the mourning mother Alfre Woodard played in Captain America: Civil War -- the one who confronted Tony Stark about her dead son at the beginning of the film. Woodard's character in Luke Cage, Mariah Dillard, is totally unrelated. In this case, it's not all connected.

Otherwise, it will prove useful to recall Reva Connors (Parisa Fitz-Henley), Luke's late wife, who still haunts him, and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson, continuing her streak of popping up in every series). After all, Claire was the one who nursed Luke back to health after he was shot in the face. (Don’t ask.) But that's about it. Oh, and The Avengers get namechecked, but we don't need to explain who they are, right?

Photo: Netflix

Will I Need to Watch Luke Cage to Understand the Next Netflix MCU Shows? See: No. 3. Theoretically, no, but next year, Luke, Jessica, Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Danny Rand aka Iron Fist (Finn Jones) will team up for The Defenders -- essentially, The Avengers of the Netflix universe -- so you'll save yourself having to read a primer then if you watch now. We have a feeling things are only going to become more intertwined after that, too. Google "Heroes for Hire," if you want to know more.

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