Recently, on September 30th, the latest Netflix-Marvel series, Luke Cage, premiered online to massive anticipation by some early reviews, and definitely did not disappoint. Mere hours after its infancy, Luke Cage has been well received by fans and critics alike. For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to check it out, imagine if Marvel oversaw production for The Wire. This sort of combination opened the doors to what is undoubtedly the most gritty and diverse entry in the Marvel Universe. Thanks to its exciting action, compelling characters, and sheer unpredictability, Luke Cage manages to hold its own alongside its Netflix predecessors and even Marvel’s best films. Like its Marvel counterparts, the show is chocked full of Easter eggs.
One consistent staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how all of Marvel’s films and TV shows have their own sets of Easter eggs. Whether it’s the references to the comic books or previous films and shows, it is the little winks and nudges that keep Marvel fans feeling giddy in their seats as soon as they catch them. In fact, it is these winks and nudges that keep fans waiting beyond the credits for a peek at some major surprises. It’s one of the rules of thumb established for everything Marvel related, and Luke Cage is no exception. There are several Easter eggs laced throughout the show’s freshman season. Anyone who missed them shouldn’t feel bad since that’s what this list is for. Check out what you’ve been missing with our list of the 15 best Easter eggs found in Season 1 of Luke Cage, but there is a definite spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen the show or doesn’t want to be spoiled on any future plans Marvel has in store.
15. The Incident
This was one of the less subtle Easter eggs from the show, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. The Incident refers to the infamous final battle from the first Avengers film. The moment left a tidal wave of destruction across New York City and has since hung over the Marvel Cinematic Universe much like any other tragic event would. What’s interesting is that while Daredevil and Jessica Jones both highlighted how New York (or at least Hell’s Kitchen) was still struggling to repair damages from the battle, Luke Cage’s Harlem environment isn’t as strongly affected given how Harlem is more uptown and away from the damage of New York City. Still, the aftermath of The Incident managed to find it’s way to Harlem in some shape or form. The most noticeable being The DVD Man of Luke Cage that is seen on the streets throughout the season selling bootleg DVD copies of The Incident that includes footage of “the blonde dude with the hammer” and “the old dude with the shield.”
14. Gang Starr
Old school hip hop heads are all well aware of the impact and influence that Gang Starr has had on East Coast rap culture. The duo’s music has found its way into many films over the years, like Mo’ Better Blues and 8 Mile, and their presence is echoed throughout every episode of Luke Cage. The show’s soundtrack is already littered with some of the finest tracks to ever be celebrated in classic hip hop, but Gang Starr has the distinction of having every episode named after one of their tracks. The average viewer flipping through every episode isn’t likely to notice or even care about the name of each episode, but Gang Starr fans knew that they were in for a special treat when they realized that some of the group’s best tracks, like “Code of the Streets” and “Moment of Truth,” were included as episode titles for Luke Cage.
13. Seagate Prison
This won’t be the last time we mention Seagate Prison during this list. Just as this wasn’t the first time we heard of the facility in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In episode 4 of Luke Cage, “Step in the Arena,” we saw that Cage served some time there in his former days as Carl Lucas for a crime he didn’t commit. Cage obviously didn’t enjoy his time there given how it’s a prison, but he also may not have liked his stay if he happened to run into any one of the Marvel baddies that are currently serving their respective sentences there. Justin Hammer (more on him later) was arrested and taken to Seagate following the events of Iron Man 2. Then, following Iron Man 3, fake-Mandarin Trevor Slattery was taken there and we even got to see some of his sentence in the Marvel One-Shot, All Hail the King. What makes this so special isn’t just in how it unites those in the MCU, but it’s also one of the few threads connecting Marvel’s films with their shows. It brings us one step closer to seeing main characters from the films appear in the Netflix shows or vice versa.
12. Black Mariah
Some fans may have found themselves stunned and confused when Cottonmouth called his cousin “Black Mariah” and she understandably snapped at him for it in the 3rd episode, “Who’s Gonna Take The Weight?” What made this moment such a puzzling one is that we weren’t given much of an explanation as to what the name meant or where it came from. We were left to assume it was just a bad childhood nickname, but in all likelihood, it was the writers speaking through Mariah for Cottonmouth to never mention her rather problematic comic book past again. In the comics, Mariah was Black Mariah. Black Mariah wasn’t much different from her modern day counterpart, although Black Mariah wasn’t a politician and to be honest, judging by how she was depicted in the comics both visually and personality-wise, she leaned on the edge of what we today call politically incorrect. The old school version of Mariah wouldn’t have been very well received in live action form and the decision to change some character traits for the small screen was a smart one. Thankfully, Alfre Woodard nailed it out of the ballpark with a more three-dimensional Mariah.
11. Luke Cage As Jesus
It seems that all of the best superheroes in comic book lore have at one time or another had their story paralleled with that of Jesus Christ. Whether it’s delivered subtly like Superman or in more blatant doses like Marvel’s Aquarius, Jesus seems to always find a way to creep into your favorite superhero’s story. Such allusions and symbolism pop up in Luke Cage and many of those allusions range from subtle to painstakingly obvious. Some are easy to miss while others are hard to ignore. In the 8th episode, “Blowin’ up the Spot,” Cage literally says that his burdens are his “cross to bear.” A couple episodes later, we get scenes of Luke in a church. We get Bible verses recited throughout the season. For Chrissake, the man’s name is Luke! Can’t get much more biblical than that; except it totally gets more biblical than that. Throughout the season, the only weapon capable of harming Cage is called the Judas Bullet. Someone behind the scenes really wanted to make Luke Cage into a Messiah.
10. Colleen Wing
When we saw Claire Temple grab a number from this self-defense class poster in the season finale of Luke Cage, most of us never gave it a second thought. With all of the super-powered wackos she’s ran into over the course of the last few Marvel-Netflix shows, it’s smart to get a little combat training done just in case. Nonetheless, there’s more to this small moment than most viewers realize. Several months ago, the Twitter page promoting the upcoming Marvel series, Iron Fist, posted a self defense poster that looked eerily similar to the one that Claire grabbed that number from. If it is the same poster, then now we have a good idea on how Claire Temple will launch herself into the next Marvel-Netflix show. Plus, seeing as the Sensei for the martial arts classes happens to be Colleen Wing, the name of an extremely prominent character in Iron Fist’s world, this also gives us an idea as far as what she’ll be up to when the first season of Iron Fist rolls around.
9. Misty Knight’s Arm
The 10th episode of Luke Cage titled “Take It Personal” ended with Misty Knight getting shot in her right arm and the episode that followed, “Now You’re Mine,” was spent with Cage and Claire Temple trying to and successfully nursing it back to health. Those aware of her fate in the comic books had to have clenched their teeth in fear the moment that Misty got shot. In the comics, Misty lost her right arm during a bank robbery explosion, but was given a brand new cybernetic arm made out of Vibranium from Tony Stark himself. In the show, all of Misty’s limbs remain intact. At least for the time being. If nothing else, having Temple tell Cage that he was “lucky [Misty] didn’t lose her arm” had to be a calculated move on behalf of the writers just to mess with the fans. This could be either a nifty nod to the comics or a subtle moment of foreshadowing (or both, only time will tell).
8. Easy Rawlins
Some people may recognize the name Easy Rawlins either from the Denzel Washington vehicle, Devil in a Blue Dress, or the popular book series that inspired the film. Either way, Netflix viewers had their eyes on the 11th book in the Easy Rawlins series, Little Green, when a copy found it’s way into the lap of Luke Cage a few times in the season. There are a few books that we see in Cage’s hands this season, like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and of course Little Green. Apart from being black-led narratives, these books actually connect to the overall arc of Cage. In the case of Little Green, the book chronicles private investigator, Easy Rawlins, waking up from a coma and looking for a missing boy. Sound familiar? It should as Cage woke up from a coma during last year’s season finale of Jessica Jones and in the 2nd episode of Luke Cage, “Code of the Streets,” Pop asks Luke to find a troubled youth named Chico. The parallels are not only undeniable, but clearly intentional.
7. Trish Walker
Netflix fans remember Trish Walker as the ex-child star, radio talk show host, and the adoptive sister/best friend of Jessica Jones from Jones’ self-titled sleeper hit from last year. Walker’s character was adored enough that fans were anxious to see how she’d fare in crossing paths with other Marvel characters. Fans got their wish this year when the showrunners of Luke Cage managed to sneak Walker’s voice into the episode, “Suckas Need Bodyguards.” At the start of the episode, Walker’s voice can be heard over the radio conducting her regular morning talk show, Trish Talk, this time all about the state of Harlem in the wake of the latest intrigue surrounding Luke Cage and his presence in the city. One of the things that makes Marvel such an exciting Cinematic Universe is the potential crossover appeal that moments like these create. Perhaps this one scene is a tease for the future. In due time, maybe Trish Walker will find herself meeting Luke Cage face-to-face.
6. Power Man
In the earliest episodes of the season, there were a good handful of times where Cage’s father figure, Pop, called Cage “Power Man.” For what may sound like a randomly corny nickname is anything but that. Well, yes, it is a pretty hokey nickname, but it’s far from random. Cage’s original superhero alias from his initial run of comic books was Power Man. In the character’s original inception during the ’70s, the name of Cage’s secret identity and comic book series was Power Man. Eventually, somewhere along the comic’s ’90s run, someone at Marvel realized just how hard something hokey like Power Man was for a modern audience to accept and so Cage’s comic was revamped simply as Cage. The change managed to stick and in the coming years, Luke Cage would fight crime under his own name opposed to the cheesy Power Man title. He dropped the Power Man pseudonym as well as his equally hokey costume.
5. Luke Cage’s Classic Get-Up
When comic books are adapted to the screen, there are usually various images from the page that get left on the cutting room floor. Usually the first thing that filmmakers decide to take out are the original superhero costumes. Some costumes just don’t translate well into live action form. It’s hard to imagine a live action version of Wolverine’s comic costume that could be presented in a way that audiences wouldn’t giggle at. The same can be said for Cage’s costume. Nonetheless, those die-hards who just love Cage’s classic costume were treated to a special glimpse of what a live action version would look like in the episode “Step in the Arena.” Even though Cage did badmouth his own get-up. Upon being reborn with new powers and still rocking his headband-cuffs combo, Cage would find himself a familiar yellow blouse to wear after breaking out. It is then that he looks at his reflection and tells himself, “You look like a damn fool” and effectively ditches the get-up. However, the black and gold color scheme remains intact on Cage’s signature hoodie, which has it’s own bit of significance.
4. The Hoodie
While not an Easter egg from a particular comic book, Cage’s hoodie is a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s no coincidence that a bulletproof black man’s clothing style of choice recalls to the tragedy that befell one Trayvon Martin. Mike Colter, the lead star behind the hood, would confirm this and comment on the prejudice that the average black man has to face just for wearing a hoodie. “We can’t cover our head when it’s cold and raining because God forbid someone sees us and puts our life in danger. We wanted to pay homage to that—it’s not something we were shying away from.” Showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, would add that he intended to show “that heroes can wear hoodies too. From the standpoint of seeing that fact that somebody saw [Trayvon] as being suspect because he had a hoodie on, we’re flipping that and saying, ‘Look, heroes come from everywhere. Yes, heroes, black men in hoodies can also be heroic.'” It’s a powerful statement and a big reason why audiences have connected so strongly with the show.
3. Heroes For Hire
There are numerous mentions from Luke Cage about how he is “not for hire” whenever he helps someone. The average viewer will take lines like that as nothing more than lines that emphasize Cage’s selfless personality, but for huge comic book fans, they’ll notice that those lines are far too coincidental. It seems that such specific lines are meant to hint that Marvel is slowly building towards the story arc from the comics, Heroes for Hire. In the comics, Heroes for Hire were a misfit team of superheroes that included Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist (who’s due for his own Netflix series later next year). They all worked together as a sort of private investigation team; protecting New York citizens at a reasonable price. Considering that all of those superheroes will have established Netflix series by this time next year, it’s very likely we’ll have ourselves an Avenger-lite crossover coming to Netflix. Maybe Luke Cage will be a superhero for hire after all.
2. Hammer Tech
Given how forgettable of a misstep that Iron Man 2 was, it’s understandable why even the most well-versed Marvel fans may not remember the name, Hammer. Justin Hammer was the corporate rival of Tony Stark and the CEO of Hammer Industries in dealing with weaponized technology. Iron Man 2 ended with Hammer being sent to Seagate Prison, which was the same place where Iron Man 3’s Trevor Slattery and even Cage himself found themselves serving sentences. Hammer is mentioned throughout the Luke Cage series. More importantly, the technology crafted under Hammer’s umbrella served as a major plot point throughout the season. Especially in relation to the special Judas Bullets made with metal “not from this Earth” that came from The Incident. These bullets were used to take down Cage. Hammer’s technology also supplied Diamondback with his battle suit during his final fight with Cage. If not for Hammer and his weapons, Cage’s biggest rivals of the first season wouldn’t know how to even leave a scratch on the unbreakable hero.
1. Stan Lee’s Cameo
No Marvel related media is complete without a signature Stan Lee cameo. Ever since Iron Man was released, Stan “The Man” Lee has made his presence known throughout many Marvel films. Even before Marvel officially kicked off their Cinematic Universe, Stan Lee was known to pop his head in and out of Marvel adaptations like X-Men and the Spider-Man trilogy. Stan Lee’s history with cameos even goes as far back as 1989’s The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Today, Stan Lee continues the tradition in the Luke Cage episode, “Soliloquy of Chaos,” appearing on a policeman poster with a logo that reads, “See a crime? Report it!” The scene also provides a double treat for cameos as it’s almost immediately followed by a cameo from Method Man. To the untrained eye, Stan Lee’s cameo is easy to miss, but those who missed it can rest assured that Stan Lee’s Marvel cameo track record remains intact.