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Airing a show off-network has its benefits. In Marvel’s case, their Netflix programming allows them to tell darker and more violent stories compared to what general audiences see in the movies. For actor Mike Colter, who will be playing super-strong hero Luke Cage, that and his series' deep character exploration are the primary reasons he was drawn to join the MCU on a smaller scale.
Colter expressed his enthusiasm to IGN over how Luke Cage and the other Netflix shows will not only be directed more towards adults, but how the stories are able to be more in-depth and focused. Said Colter:
When I look at the scripts, I’m really pleased with it because it’s a slow-burn; there’s nothing happening really fast that gets ahead of itself. I’m really with where they’re taking it and how they’re developing the characters, because it’s really cool and it’s geared towards an adult audience, which is something that will be different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe you’ve seen before on the big screen...We have a more gritty, focused story on our heroes and characters that live in New York City, but it’s geared towards a more adult audience and I think that’s the thing about the series that will be different.
Unlike the movies or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Netflix series will be focusing on the street-level heroes of the MCU fighting urban crime. Hence the gritty tone that Colter and other creative talent have repeatedly mentioned for these shows, an aesthetic that’s harder to accomplish in the bigger budget productions. The movies have to make sure they can be accessible to people of all ages, whereas with Luke Cage and the others, adults are the primary demographic, so the creative teams are allowed to take more risks.
Colter, who is quite familiar with the comics, is also eager to start what makes Luke tick, and one of the greatest advantages TV has over movies is deeper study of a character’s psychology. The actor didn’t mention it, but he’s also probably excited to punch stuff. That’s one of the greatest things about playing a superhero!
Luke Cage's character will be introduced in A.K.A. Jessica Jones as a man the titular character meets during one of her investigations with "secrets that will dramatically alter Jessica in ways she could never have imagined.” Colter will then lead the standalone series Luke Cage that will be released after Iron Fist.
Aside from Daredevil, which comes out on April 10, no release dates have been given on the other shows. But if Netflix is indeed planning on releasing each series a year apart, then fans probalby won’t see Luke Cage until around 2017 or 2018.