‘Luke Cage’ And The Changing American Superhero

Download Audio

The hero of the new Netflix show "Luke Cage" is a bulletproof black man. We’ll look at the changing American superhero.

Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Carl Lucas (Mike Colter) in a scene from Netflix's "Luke Cage." (Courtesy Netflix)
Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Carl Lucas (Mike Colter) in a scene from Netflix's "Luke Cage." (Courtesy Netflix)

Once upon a time, and for quite a long time, American superheroes were basically white, male and super. They were great, but not every kid could see him or herself in their boots, their cape. Well, that has changed. Superman’s still out there. But now we’ve got a new raft of superheroes. Luke Cage, the bulletproof black man. Jessica Jones, super-powered rape survivor. And more. This hour On Point, the new faces, and powers, of the American superhero. — Tom Ashbrook


Abraham Riesman, associate culture editor at New York Magazine and Vulture. (@abrahamjoseph)

Alyssa Rosenberg, pop culture columnist for the Washington Post. (@AlyssaRosenberg)

Roxane Gay, feminist writer and critic. Associate professor of English at Purdue University. Author of “Bad Feminist” and “An Untamed State.” Author of the forthcoming ‘World Of Wakanda” series for Marvel Comics. (@rgay)

From Tom’s Reading List

Vulture: How Luke Cage Went From Cutting Edge to Caricature, and Then Back Again — "It wasn't  too long ago that Luke Cage, Marvel's heavily muscled, no-nonsense bruiser of a superhero, existed mainly as a punch line. Existing in the margins of the Marvel universe, many years removed from his own standalone title, the character at the turn of the millennium was a far cry from what he had been at the time of his creation in the early 1970s, when the blaxploitation phenomenon was at its zenith."

Washington Post: ‘Suicide Squad’ was sold as a triumph of diversity. It’s actually trash. — "The only actual reason to watch 'Suicide Squad'  is that it’s a powerful testament to the ways in which Hollywood can absorb basic demands for greater inclusiveness while still turning out a movie with a nasty, regressive streak."

New York Times: Marvel’s World of Wakanda Will Spotlight Women, on the Page and Behind It — "It is no surprise that Marvel would try to capitalize on the success of Black Panther. Eager anticipation greeted the announcement of Mr. Coates. And the comic book, drawn by Brian Stelfreeze, is a critical and commercial hit. The first issue, which was released in April, sold more than 300,000 copies, a number undoubtedly boosted by collectors and the curious. Issues 2 and 3, whose sales for any series are typically more indicative of sustained readership, each sold more than 75,000 copies."

This program aired on October 13, 2016.


More from On Point

Listen Live