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What We Learned From The 'Luke Cage' Trailer

Luke Cage, the third show in the ever-growing stable of Marvel's Netflix offerings, came out swinging with a fantastic new teaser trailer from San Diego Comic Con 2016. The trailer, light on dialogue and heavy on the ruckus, shows titular strongman Luke Cage staging a one-man invasion on a building full of hapless gunmen. Back when we first met Cage in the Netflix series Jessica Jones, he was a bartender who didn't advertise his powers and tried to keep a low profile. Picking up a few months later, Luke comes out of the shadows to deal with the demons from his past only hinted at in Jones. This is the most footage from his solo show we've seen yet, so let's take the opportunity to get familiar with TV's newest hero-for-hire.

A release date (and episode titles)

Maybe the most important news coming out of the trailer is confirmation of the show's premiere date: thirteen episodes, all out at once, on Friday, September 30. Showrunner and executive producer, Cheo Hodari Coker, also revealed during Comic Con that all thirteen episodes are named after songs from the fearsome East Coast hip-hop duo Gang Starr, which means we can hopefully look forward to such sizzling titles as "Blowin' Up the Spot," "Comin' for Datazz," or "Execution of a Chump" in season 1. Maybe season 2 will go west coast.

"The other hero of the story"

The Comic-Con trailer also lets us get a good new glimpse of Mahershala Ali as notorious New York drug kingpin, Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes. Though the role that he will play in the show remains to be seen, in the comics he's one of Luke's more notorious, and long-running, enemies. After trying (and failing) to recruit Luke into his sprawling criminal organization, Cottonmouth turned his resources to trying to take down his bulletproof rival, going after him with super-strength of his own, a set of sharp fangs, and the collection of poisonous snakes that lends him his nickname.

The two have a long and storied history on the page, so there's a lot of different directions their relationship can go on the show. Villain or not, he'll be important, with Marvel writer Jeph Loeb referring to him, somewhat ambiguously, as "the other hero of the story." For his part, Ali sounds excited to bring his vision of the character to life. "I could hear the character," he said. "And for me, that's always a good sign. I could tell he had depth, I could tell he was complicated in his own way. He's somebody who goes about things in a different way than the normal person, including myself."

A hip-hop aesthetic

Scored to the late, great Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," Luke Cage's Comic-Con trailer leaves no doubt that a sense of hip-hop cool is in the show's DNA, as our hero dons a dark hoodie and invites his enemies to bring it. Coker goes so far as to call his show "the Wu-Tangification of the Marvel Universe."

Northern Harlem, where the show takes place, will also be felt in the show as its own "unbilled character," and we'll be meant to realize that this story couldn't take place anywhere else. Actor Frank Whaley, who plays Detective Scarfe, speaks admirably of the writers, saying they stuck the landing in bringing Harlem and hip-hop into the show as a driving force. "Cheo infused music into the script somehow," he said. "We all felt the soul that it was going to possess."

The powers of Power Man

In the comics, Luke Cage's sometime-superhero name is the hilariously on-point "Power Man." As you can tell from the trailer, it's probably one of the more accurate names that he could pick. We already knew from Jessica Jones that Luke Cage has unbreakable skin, which almost got him in trouble when he wound up needing a life-saving injection. We also knew he was crazy strong, based on scenes where the reluctant hero was forced to fight. But this is the first time we get a chance to see Luke Cage truly in his element: a man on a mission, and a walking wrecking ball.

Punching through walls, kicking down doors, and ripping apart cars throughout the trailer, we also get a chance to look at Cage's fighting style, and let's just say it doesn't involve a lot of stealth. He walks headlong into bullets and throws men through ceilings, making his way through waves of attackers using overwhelming force. It makes you wonder what, if anything, could realistically endanger him — the only thing of Luke's that ends up damaged throughout the entire trailer is his poor hoodie.

Swagger, comedy, and classic cool

There's something downright hilarious about how Luke Cage makes absolute mincemeat of his armed attackers, taking bullets to the chest without blinking and dispatching everyone with one sweep of his arm. Daredevil is a lithe ninja, and Jessica Jones is more of a drunken brawler, but Luke Cage is a walking tank. At least the other two Defenders occasionally looked like they were breaking a sweat while they were fighting — Luke looks like he's thinking about his grocery list. He's like the Incredible Hulk without the one-track mind.

Then there's that Ol' Dirty Bastard song, hinting at a certain irreverence and swagger that Marvel shows have thus far lacked. In short, it looks really, really cool. There's still a long way to go on the road to The Defenders, but it looks like, with Luke Cage, we're in for a seriously entertaining ride.