Always forward. Forward always. Now that Luke Cage has premiered, MCU fans can look forward to the eventual Defenders team-up series, due out in 2017. Marvel’s Netflix shows have been building to the crossover series The Defenders since Daredevil premiered, and all we have in the way now is Iron Fist’s solo series.
Luke Cage had no shortage of callbacks to both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, not to mention ample attempts to set up an excursion into New York’s Chinatown for Iron Fist. Here are all of them collected, either through dialogue or visual Easter eggs.
Literally Everything Claire Temple Says
Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a Hell’s Kitchen nurse first introduced in Daredevil, is the main thread connecting all of Marvel’s Netflix shows. She’s patched up Matt Murdock a dozen times and appeared late in Jessica Jones, helping Luke Cage recover from Jessica’s shotgun blast before Cage ran off to hide at Pop’s barbershop.
A lot of Claire’s dialogue calls back to Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Claire brings up her “lawyer friend” and “a blind man that can see” — obviously Daredevil — before also bringing up Jessica’s trigger finger (from Episode 12 of Jessica Jones) on Cage. Cage tells Pops at some point that he still gets headaches.
Mariah’s Speech References the ‘Jessica Jones’ Finale
Claire isn’t the only one who brings up Hell’s Kitchen’s best P.I. During a rally at Harlem’s Paradise, Mariah uses the newfound paranoia of superpowered people — an echo from Captain America: Civil War — to inspire a hunt for Luke Cage. She brings up Jessica Jones snapping Kilgrave’s neck as an example of these weirdos being out of control, thus needing to arm the police with the Judas Bullet.
A Hero for Hire
Several times throughout Luke Cage, the possibility of Cage profiting off his abilities is brought up. Even at the end, when Pop’s place can’t be a barbershop anymore, Cage considers a newfound line of business.
That business was freelance heroism, an obvious reference to the Luke Cage, Hero for Hire comics from the ‘70s. Cage and his buddy Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, continued his business as the duo “Heroes for Hire,” which they’re doing right now in the ongoing Power Man and Iron Fist revival from Fred Van Lente.
Luke Cage’s Original, Tiara-tastic Yellow Outfit
When Luke Cage escapes Seagate, he steals some old jeans and a bulky, gaudy yellow shirt off a wire hanger. Along with Burstein’s cuffs and tiara from the experiment, and Cage resembles the vintage Power Man from the comics.
Besides being a cute reference to his bizarre beginnings, it was also the same costume he wore when he first appeared in The Defenders in issue #17.
Luke Cage Is a Bruce Lee Fan, Apparently
Luke Cage is a well-read individual who indulges in both highbrow and campy paperback culture. In the fourth episode, Cage has a prison yard debate with his friend Squabbles over Bruce Lee and Jet Li, with Squabbles claiming Jet Li’s Fist of Legend remake tops Bruce’s original. Cage is having none of it, showing himself as a loyal devotee to the Master of Jeet Kune Do.
Though Bruce Lee doesn’t directly reference Iron Fist, it does reference how Bruce’s sky-high popularity at the time of his death inspired a surge in kung fu films in the early ‘70s, which actually led Marvel to create Iron Fist (just as blaxpoitation movies created Luke Cage). And as mentioned before, Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, and Luke Cage have teamed up as the Heroes for Hire.
Also, for the record, Squabbles is right: Jet Li’s Fist of Legend is a better movie than Bruce Lee’s original, Fist of Fury (which was mistakenly released as The Chinese Connection in the United States).
The Swear Jar
While the Swear Jar primarily functions as an emotional character beat for Cage in the series, it also references the character’s best known attribute: his vivid vocabulary. Although created as an homage to the fun and vulgar blaxpoitation movies in the ‘70s, Marvel wasn’t allowed to feature a foul-mouthed superhero in its comics for kids. (This was long before the arrival of Deadpool, of course.)
To sidestep restrictions, Marvel gave Luke Cage a colorful, if silly vocabulary, replacing profanity (illustrated as #%&@!) with “Sweet Christmas,” which was just one of his regular “curse words.” Swearing — or Cage’s hesitance to — is a regular joke in the comics, even now in the current Power Man and Iron Fist.
Misty Knight’s Injured Arm and Red Dress
Misty Knight, arguably the breakout character of Luke Cage, has a rich history in Marvel’s continuity. In the Netflix series, Misty’s right arm is horribly injured, to the point Claire Temple says it could actually come off. Misty also wears a familiar red dress in the finale, standing in a revitalized Harlem’s Paradise.
In the comics, Misty’s arm does come off, requiring a high-tech prosthetic from Tony Stark. Stark is a little busy dealing with the Sokovia Accords during Luke Cage, so Misty gets to keep her limb, at least while she’s on The Defenders.
Claire’s Kung-Fu Lessons from Colleen Wing
In the finale of Luke Cage, Claire rips off the number for an ad for kung-fu self defense training by Colleen Wing.
Wing, a prominent character in the Iron Fist mythos, will be played by Jessica Henwick in the 2017 series. Expect Claire to be seen punching and kicking on a wing-chun dummy next spring.
Marvel’s Luke Cage is now streaming on Netflix.