Why Quentin Tarantino’s Luke Cage Movie Never Happened

Luke Cage Marvel Comics

There was a time where Quentin Tarantino could have delivered a superhero movie to the masses years before the genre was all the rage. In the ‘90s, Tarantino wanted to make a Luke Cage movie, as the hero also known as Power Man was one of his favorites growing up.

Quentin Tarantino tossed around the Luke Cage movie idea after making Reservoir Dogs and before Pulp Fiction was released, but it turns out that the reason he didn’t move forward with the project is because him wanting to cast Laurence Fishburne in the eponymous role was met with resistance by some friends. Tarantino recalled:

What actually dissuaded me from doing it was, my comic book geek friends talked me out of it. Because I had an idea that Larry Fishburne would be the perfect guy to play Luke Cage. I’m talking about King of New York-era Larry Fishburne. I told him about it. But all my friends were like, ‘No, no, no, man, it’s gotta be Wesley Snipes.’ And I go, ‘Well look, I like Wesley Snipes, but I mean, Larry Fishburne is practically Marlon Brando. I mean, I think Fish is the man.' And they were like, Yeah, but he’d have to get in shape in a big way. Snipes is that way already.’ And I go, ‘Well fuck that, man, that’s not that important, alright.’ I go, ‘Fuck you, you ruined the whole damn thing.’

So maybe if these friends of Quentin Tarantino had been more receptive to the idea of Wesley Snipes donning a yellow shirt and proclaiming “Sweet Christmas!”, this Luke Cage movie might have moved forward. Alas, these individuals felt that Wesley Snipes would have made a better Luke Cage due to his physique.

Quentin Tarantino also clarified during his interview on the Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith podcast that had he decided to make Luke Cage, that would have been his third directorial feature, thus taking the place of 1997’s Jackie Brown. Considering how his filmography moved onward from there in real life, perhaps it’s for the best that Luke Cage never happened, though it would have been interesting to see a pre-Matrix Laurence Fishburne bring Power Man to life.

Laurence Fishburne in King of New York

While Quentin Tarantino felt Laurence Fishburne was the best candidate for Luek Cage, Wesley Snipes had a different Marvel superhero on the mind around this time. In the early ‘90s, Snipes tried to make a Black Panther movie, but was unable to do so because the technology of the time to properly show off Wakanda’s “super science.”

Ultimately, both Wesley Snipes and Laurence Fishburne scored opportunities to contribute to the superhero movie genre later down the line. In 1998, Snipes debuted as the vampire hunter Blade, a role he would reprise twice more and that would be integral to popularizing this genre.

Laurence Fishburne made his superhero movie debut in 2013’s Man of Steel as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White, who he would reprise in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The actor then made the jump to the MCU as Bill Foster in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Fishburne is also the co-creator of the upcoming animated Marvel series Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

As for Luke Cage, while he still has yet to make his film debut, he has been portrayed in live action by Mike Colter thanks to the Marvel Netflix universe. After debuting as the man formerly known as Carl Lucas in Jessica Jones Season 1, Colter led the Luke Cage series for two seasons, as well as participated in The Defenders miniseries and returned to Jessica Jones for a cameo in the series finale.

Perhaps there will come a day when Mike Colter’s Luke Cage will be brought back, but considering how loosely connected the Marvel Netflix shows have been to the MCU mythology presented on the big screen, there’s also the possibility that the character will be rebooted in order to fit within Kevin Feige’s creative vision. Either way, for now, there’s no word on when Luke Cage will be return to live action.

As for Quentin Tarantino, his latest movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. He hasn’t announced what his 10th and final movie will be, although it’s unlikely that it will be the Star Trek movie that he pitched to Paramount.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.