“[Recently] Marvel rolled out the next chapter in the Netflix division of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “Luke Cage,” the story of a convict-turned-crimefighter who uses his bulletproof skin to come out on top in firefights. It marks a major resurgence for a character who was designed as a way for Marvel to cash in on a trend, only to fall into comics purgatory when that trend fell out of style.
Luke Cage made his debut in 1972, a year after “Shaft” kicked the blaxploitation film craze into high gear. In some respects, Cage was a super-powered version of Shaft, with both characters looking for a new direction after getting in trouble with the law. In Cage’s case, it was necessitated when former friend and top criminal Willis Stryker framed him for heroin possession. Stryker blamed Cage for prompting his girlfriend to break up with him, though she really did it because Cage chose to leave his deadly life of crime behind and Stryker didn’t.
While in prison, Cage is chosen to be the subject in a super soldier experiment similar to the one that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. The experiment gives him increased strength, healing factor and, most notably, indestructible skin. Cage uses his new powers to break out of prison and return to New York, where he becomes a soldier of fortune.
But like many characters designed to cash in on a trend, Luke Cage fell out of fashion following the decline of blaxploitation. To stem the tide, Marvel paired him up with Iron Fist, another ’70s hero designed to capitalize on the popularity of martial arts movies and who, incidentally, is also getting a Netflix series soon. While the team-up helped buoy for a while, Luke Cage’s comic book run finally came to an end in 1986 with Iron Fist being killed off and Cage falsely accused of murdering him…”