If you haven’t binge-watched Marvel’s Luke Cage just yet, you might want to stop reading. The action-packed show is crammed full of references to the wider Marvel universe, not to mention plenty of nods to Luke’s comic book history. There’s even a few teasery hints about what’s coming up in Marvel’s other Netflix shows. Here are some of the best Easter eggs you might have missed in Marvel’s Luke Cage. Get ready to geek out…
1. Heroes for Hire
Luke Cage is one of Marvel’s Heroes for Hire - a superhero team he founded along with Iron Fist to provide heroic services for a price. Although Iron Fist is nowhere to be seen, there are plenty of references to Luke’s ‘for hire’ activities. At the end of the first episode, the owner of Genghis Connie’s offer to hire Luke Cage to protect the restaurant from the increasingly violent street gangs. “I'm not for hire,” he says. “But you have my word ma'am, I've got you.”
2. Original comic book costume
Most comic book superheroes get their very own costume, and Luke Cage is no different. Sporting a solid metal tiara, thick metal cuffs and a yellow shirt, Luke certainly stood out in a crowd. Now, that costume can be seen on the show. During that life-saving procedure at Seagate Prison (the one that grants him superpowers), Luke is bolted down to the table with restraints that resemble that classic comic book look. Once he escapes, it’s not long before he manages to grab a fetching yellow t-shirt from an unsuspecting person’s clothes line. "You look like a damn fool,” he mutters to himself. I think you look great, Luke.
3. Power Man
We know him as Luke Cage, but the ground-level Marvel hero has also gone by another moniker - Power Man. He originally took ‘Power Man’ as a codename while on a mission with Iron Man to recover some stolen Stark Industries tech… but continued to use the name after joining up with The Defenders. In Marvel’s Luke Cage, we hear his old pal Pop using his superhero alias very early on. “Not a problem for you, Power Man,” he says. But Luke is reluctant to let the name stick. Shame.
4. Sweet Christmas!
Every hero has a catchphrase, and for Luke Cage it’s ‘Sweet Christmas!’ It was originally coined in the ‘70s comic book because Marvel wanted Luke Cage to curse (just like Blaxploitation hero Shaft), but it was still a comic book for kids so ‘Sweet Christmas!’ was born. During episode 4, we see Luke punching his way out of Seagate Prison, much to his own surprise. Taken aback by his own power, he exclaims: “Sweet Christmas!” before hoofing it out of prison and doing a runner. It’s not the first time we’ve seen him utter the line on screen (after all, he said it during Jessica Jones, too) but it’s definitely the most apt.
5. Hammer Industries
Now that’s a name we’ve not heard in a while. Hammer Industries is owned by Iron Man 2 villain, Justin Hammer. Although he’s clearly been out of commission for a while - banged up in Seagate Prison after his brush with Tony Stark - it looks as though his company is still one of the world’s leading arms manufacturers. Hammer Industries makes the weapons Cottonmouth is dealing on the black market… and also happens to make the Judas bullet - the special, insanely-powerful bullets which bad guy Diamondback uses to attack Luke Cage.
6. Misty Knight's robotic arm
Sorry - Misty Knight doesn’t have a robotic arm in Marvel’s Luke Cage, but her injury in episode 10 does give a subtle nod to her comic book appendage. After being shot by the villainous Diamondback, Misty almost loses her arm… but it’s saved at the last minute. In the comic books, she suffered a very similar injury, but her arm was replaced by a robotic prototype courtesy of Stark Industries. Of course, the robo-arm came with all kinds of cool abilities, including super-strength, anti-gravity repulsor field, a frost beam, and concussive blasts. While she’s sporting a look that’s very similar to her comic book costume by the end of the season, she still only has regular arms.
Did you know that Claire Temple is pals with another Marvel hero? Of course you do. After all, she first appeared in Marvel’s Daredevil alongside the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, but that doesn’t stop her from mentioning it every few episodes. “I might have a lawyer friend who can help," she tells Luke just moments before he’s shot in episode 6. And she can’t help mentioning it again in episode 13 when asked if Luke needs an attorney, saying: “I know a really good one.” We get it, Claire. You’re pals with Daredevil. We get it.
8. Jessica Jones
He’s finally put all that Jessica Jones stuff behind him. but it looks as though poor Luke Cage can’t quite leave the name behind him. There’s a thinly-veiled reference to Jessica early in the season when Pop mentions Luke’s crazy ex, but Mariah makes another more blatant namedrop later on. “That woman over in Hell's Kitchen snapped a man's neck because he was... mind-controlling her,” says Mariah Dillard at the rally in episode 10. I suppose word gets around. And while she doesn’t appear on the show, Jessica is bound to turn up sooner or later.
9. Trish Talk
It looks as though Trish Walker is back with her popular radio talk show, Trish Talk! Appearing in episode 6, there’s a cool moment when Trish is heard discussing Luke Cage’s good deeds on her radio show. “We are witnessing a massive shift in the boundaries of possibility,” she explains, discussing the appearance of superheroes across New York. “But what is scary for some, inspires hope in others. I for one would like to thank Luke Cage for all the work he’s doing in Harlem.” Sounds as though he’s got a bit of a fan. Just don’t make Jessica jealous…
10. The Avengers
The events of Avengers: Assemble changed New York forever… and there are plenty of folks in Harlem who remember that day. I mean, who wouldn’t with aliens and superheroes hurtling through the city. There’s even a guy on the street selling DVD’s of the whole thing. “Tony Stark, the blonde dude, the old man with the shield, the big green monster,” he explains. “And I don’t mean Fenway! You can't get better raw footage of the incident than right here.” But he’s not the only one who remembers the chaos and destruction. "I saw the incident up close," says Misty’s partner, Detective Scarfe. "Unless this sidearm I have suddenly turns into a magic hammer, this whole job is irrelevant."
11. Luke’s kryptonite
It’s going to take some seriously big guns to take down Luke Cage and with Cottonmouth on the warpath, he needs to make quick work of his super-powered nemesis. But how do you kill a man with unbreakable skin? Bullets made of alien metal, obviously. After demoing some special munitions from Hammer Industries, Shades reveals that these Cage-killing rounds are made from metal left behind by ‘The Incident’ - the Chitauri invasion seen in Avengers: Assemble. It’s basically Luke Cage’s version of kryptonite.
12. The Punisher
He was the stand-out anti-hero in Daredevil season 2. Now, The Punisher has been given a special mention in Marvel’s Luke Cage. After Luke is torn down with those specially-made Judas rounds, they’re taken to district attorney Blake Tower. And it seems he’s worried they might fall into the wrong hands… “Frank Castle shot the city to hell,” he explains. “Imagine what he could do with one of these things?” Of course, this could be foreshadowing a superhero stand-off in The Punisher’s own Netflix show, but we’ll have to wait and see.
13. Night Nurse
It’s no secret that Claire was supposed to be Marvel’s Night Nurse - a talented nurse who fixes up many of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. But those plans changed when Night Nurse was to be included in the upcoming Doctor Strange film. But as a nod to Claire’s intended origins, she’s called ‘Night Nurse’ for the very first time in episode 11. “Escort the night nurse downstairs,” says one of the thugs after she tricks them into letting her find Luke’s hiding place. Whether or not the name sticks remains to be seen. After all, there are several Night Nurses in the comic books.
14. Stan Lee cameo
It wouldn’t be Marvel without a cameo from Stan Lee. But unlike the movies, his Netflix cameos can be a little hard to miss. This time around, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee appears on a poster outside a bodega in episode 12. “See a crime?” says the poster’s tagline. “Report it!” Stan is pictured wearing a police uniform, and it looks almost exactly like his Daredevil and Jessica Jones cameo with a little Photoshop work thrown in. There, he appeared wearing a police uniform in a photo on the Hell’s Kitchen PD walls. Not hugely imaginative, but it’s a nice little nod for the fans.
15. Seagate Prison
It’s no secret that Luke Cage spent time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but it may come as a surprise that this prison has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before. After the events of Iron Man 3, it’s revealed that actor Trevor Slattery was sent to Seagate alongside Iron Man 2 villain, Justin Hammer. Unfortunately, it looks as though Luke never encountered either of them on the inside. But he did have a brush with Prison Officer Rackham and Dr Burstein - two characters who are almost exactly the same as their comic book counterparts.
16. An homage to Shane Black
Remember that hilarious scene in Iron Man 3 when a henchman reasons with Iron Man? “Honestly,” he mutters. “I hate working here… they are so weird.” And with a quick bolt for the door, he’s allowed to make his escape. Well, it looks as though Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker was a bit of a fan, and referenced that classic Shane Black moment in his own series. “I don't even like these niggas, man,” says one gang member as he turns and runs straight out of Genghis Connie’s. Brilliant.
17. Mariah Dillard is actually Black Mariah
Black Mariah is one of Luke Cage’s longest-running foes in the comic books, but it looks as though the Netflix show is taking this character in a very different direction. Mariah Dillard is a fine, upstanding citizen… at least, in public. A local politician and Cottonmouth’s cousin, it soon becomes clear that she’s not all she pretends to be. By episode 7, Mariah has bumped off her cousin and seems to be on her way to reluctantly taking control of his criminal empire. The most obvious reference to Black Mariah comes in episode 3, when Cottonmouth loses his rag. “Shut up, Black Mariah!" he shouts. Chilling.
18. Captain America origins
We all know that Luke Cage gained his superpowers during a sabotaged experimental procedure, but what did that involve? A throwaway line from one of the show’s villains gives us a subtle clue. "You knock down a few doors, speak in a church. And now you Harlem's Captain America...” says Cottonmouth while berating Cage. “Nigga, please." Of course, in the comic books, Luke Cage is granted unbreakable skin and super-human strength using the very same super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. I guess Cottonmouth isn’t a big comic book reader.
19. Iron Fist?
That’s right - Marvel’s Luke Cage has just set-up a cool connection to Iron Fist. At the very end of episode 13, Claire finds a poster advertising a self-defence training and martial arts class run by Colleen Wing. Appearing in the comic books, Colleen teamed up with Misty Knight to form the Daughters of the Dragon - a heroic duo which featured prominently alongside Iron Fist. We already know that Colleen will be appearing in the upcoming Iron Fist show, played by Jessica Henwick so it looks as though Claire is going to encounter yet-another Defender. Will Claire be the one who brings them all together?
20. Diamondback’s comic costume
It looks as though Diamondback gets his original comic book costume, too. Following in Luke’s footsteps, the villainous Willis Stryker suits up in a costume that looks exactly like his comic book apparel even if it is a bit weird-looking. “What the hell?” says Bobby Fish. “What type of Jean Paul Gautier shit is this? What are you, a pimp stormtrooper?" Even donning the classic chin-strapped helmet, Diamondback looks as though he’s burst straight from the pages of a Luke Cage comic book. And there’s even a nod to his weapons of choice, as he offs a thug in episode 9 with a switchblade. Nice.
21. Luke goes back… to the Future!
Great Scott! There’s a Back to the Future Easter egg in Marvel’s Luke Cage. During episode 10, Misty Knight decides to use her investigative skills to dig into Luke’s shady past. What she uncovers, is that Luke and Diamondback were implicated in an auto theft when they were just teenagers. On the right of the page, in a separate column, there’s an article which details a local scientist being commended at a charity ball. That’s right - it’s Doc Brown. “[Martin] Brown, a lifelong resident of the community, has recently developed what he calls the ‘Thrust Capacitor,’ a device which desalinizes ocean water for repurposing. It also is the device that could one day make time travel possible.” Heavy.