Comic book movies are the biggest craze since 2008 when the first big MCU movie Iron Man appeared on the big screen. It seems that the entertainment industry has two distinct periods: “before Marvel’s domination” and “after Iron Man”. It was a movie that changed how we looked at superheroes. While Christopher Nolan brought Batman to the ground and made him a vigilante that could very well exist in the modern world, Jon Favreau decided to make a campier movie with some levity.
Iron Man was a sci-fi action movie with a likable douchebag as its main protagonist. It had a lot of jokes and an incredibly tight plot with an iconic portrayal of Tony Stark by Robert Downey Jr as the creative epicenter. It was a delight that made it clear: when done well, comic book movies will attract all moviegoers and not only fans of comics. Another important thing was the fact that Iron Man was at best a B-lister in the superhero roster of Marvel Comics while Batman was an undeniable cultural icon.
The first flight of Iron Man created a buzz that would soon turn into a constant chattering behind the doors of Hollywood studios. People were talking about making the next big thing and copying the success of the MCU after The Avengers proved to be more than just another successful movie but a blockbuster that forced people to talk about it. Today, the MCU spans across 19 movies and a couple of TV shows with nearly every movie making close to or more than a billion dollars in the box office.
How does Quentin Tarantino relate to all of this? Tarantino is a classy director whose portfolio is full of award-winning films. He usually creates motion pictures that have a lot of tension and explosive action scenes. He has that sense of style that many other directors wish they had. Only Tarantino can turn pop-corn schlock into a tastefully done drama with excessive violence, swearing, and awesomeness. Imagining him making a comic book movie is hard. However, at some point in his career, Tarantino was close to filming a story about a superhero.
In an interview that he gave during the press tour of Hateful Eight released in 2015, Quentin talked about his previous desire to bring Luke Cage to the big screen. Sadly, he went with the idea of making a movie about movie making and created Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that brought him 10 Academy nominations and two golden statues.
So, who is Luke Cage and why was Tarantino so interested in him? First of all, you must remember that Tarantino loves black actors and discussing the topic of relations between people of different races. His unrelenting criticism of racism is a pivotal point of several of his movies. Making a film about a black superhero is definitely something he would consider doing.
Luke Cage is not even on the B-list of Marvel superheroes. Cage is a small-time hero who usually fights crime in New York and despite his invincibility and strength barely goes above his league to fight against cosmic threats. He is famous within the universe but many fans of mainstream comics probably have never heard of him. Cage is one of the superheroes whose popularity was never the main driving force behind his longevity but rather the support from die hard fans who loved the concept of the black superhero protecting his neighborhood.
Tarantino recalls that he came up with the idea sometime between filming Reservoir Dogs and conceiving Pulp Fiction. He returned to the idea later on and always had something else on the horizon to work on. Tarantino wanted to cast Lawrence Fishbourne as the titular character. However, many of his friends were thinking about Wesley Snipes. Quentin had a couple of heated discussions and argued about the advantages of using Fishburne as Luke Cage at the time. However, many of his close friends thought that having Wesley Snipes was a better idea due to the strength and stature of the latter.
The whole bickering between him and his friends ultimately made him lose interest in the concept. The movie was never made despite the fact that Tarantino never let go of the idea completely. The saddest part of this is the fact that we will never see this version of the film in which Lawrence Fishbourne is catching bullets and “doesn’t have to dodge them”. He proved himself as a bankable action star in The Matrix trilogy as well as many other films. His recent role in the John Wick franchise is also quite cool.
Fishbourne just has that amazing aura of seriousness and strength around him. While no one has anything bad to say about Mike Colter’s version of the character in the Netflix Marvel TV shows, there is no doubt that Lawrence’s version would have been a little bit more intimidating and infinitely cooler. Just imagine looking at Morpheus on steroids!
Now, is there any chance that Quentin Tarantino will make a Luke Cage movie in the future (remember he still has to make one more motion picture before retiring)? The answer to this is a sure “no”. Usually, Tarantino chooses his actors before he fully creates the concept for his next movie. Lawrence Fishbourne will unlikely be able to carry an action film by himself. Sadly, he is now too old for such endeavors.
What is more exciting is whether Quentin will be interested in making a comic book movie in general. He loves to make statements with his films and make homage to older excellent pictures and pop culture. Creating a Tarantino-driven comic book movie could have been a great way to tell moviegoers what he thinks about the current situation in the entertainment industry. What does he have to say about the genre and its clichés? Are there any criticisms that he would throw at Marvel and DC Comics?
Luke Cage will unlikely return to the screens of our TVs. Chances of him making a comeback and appearing on the big screen are even slimmer. However, the fact that there was once a possibility of a major Hollywood studio making a film about Luke Cage is fascinating in its own right.