Heroes are, in many ways, their motivations. They aren’t defined by their abilities but by their experiences and the things that shape their character. Misty Knight is going to be one of the newest heroes to join the MCU when Luke Cage comes to Netflix on September 30. Knight is a Marvel hero with a storied comic book history, and though we don’t yet know Knight’s MCU origin story, we can make a few guesses about what fuels her heroic fire and what she’s going to bring to Harlem based on her appearances in the comics.
Netflix’s Luke Cage is focused on Cage’s fight to protect Harlem from those who mean it harm, particularly Cottonmouth Stokes. Though he’s a deeply reluctant hero, following a bout of wrongful incarceration, Cage steps up with a little help from some superpowered friends.
The Misty Knight we know from comic books comes from a law enforcement background. Knight graduated from the police academy at the top of her class and became an officer who saved lives and put her own on the line to protect others time and time again.
Responding to a terrorist bomb threat at a bank, Knight selflessly retrieved and disposed of a bomb, saving lives but losing her arm in the process. Though she was given a super-special “cybernetic” arm from Tony Stark that gave her a degree of super strength, she stepped down from the police force because her injury would’ve relegated her to desk duty.
Later in the comics, Knight teams up with Colleen Wing to embark on some adventures in private investigation á la Nightwing Restorations.
So, given her background, what might motivate the Netflix iteration of Misty Knight to team up with Cage to keep Harlem safe from evildoers?
Simple: Duty and justice.
Knight’s background in law enforcement is likely going to be a major contributing factor to the way that she approaches heroism, but her pre-injury dedication to saving lives is proof that heroics aren’t something she picked up with her Stark-issued cybernetic limb. That’s the funny thing about heroes: abilities do not a hero make.
Given that we know Cage is going to confront issues of justice (given his wrongful incarceration), it’s a better-than-good bet that Knight’s background in law enforcement is going to factor into Luke Cage. In order to have been at the top of her class in the police academy, Knight must have had, in theory, a stellar understanding of the law as it pertains to law enforcement and must’ve exhibited qualities deemed admirable in a police officer (again, in theory the Marvel Universe NYPD doesn’t necessarily reflect the ideals and values of the IRL NYPD).
Considering that Knight would sooner resign from a position with the NYPD that she worked damn hard to get rather than take a desk job, we can also bet that Knight values her ability to contribute in the most effective way possible. Feeling that she was more valuable as an active participant out in the field than at a desk, Knight probably isn’t one to sit idly by. She’s active and wants in on whatever’s happening; she wants to be in the thick of the action.
If we’re to assume that Knight was a great cop during her time on the force and was, at least in part, influenced by her time as a private investigator, she also has a decent understanding of what we might call “the benefit of the doubt,” that gray area that exists between guilt and innocence, and of the duality that exists within every narrative of a person wronged. Good and evil, right and wrong, guilty and innocent are hardly ever as clearly defined as we might want them to be, and Knight’s background has taught her that. It’s also given her a degree of knowledge regarding how to operate within and around the law and about how criminals think, act and operate.
Thinking (perhaps a bit idealistically) about what comes with a steadfast dedication to upholding the law and pursuing justice, Knight knows what it is to look out for the little guy, to find and eliminate wrongdoing and injustice where it exists, and, to put it bluntly, to serve and protect. If she was the ideal cop, her sense of duty isn’t to the PD, but to the people of New York. If that holds true in the Netflix rendering of Misty Knight, you’d be hard pressed to find a better ally for Luke Cage.