Luke Cage Role: The Battle is On

22 Jul

A Special Edition: In celebration of Comic-Con 2011

By Comic Relief

Recently Asian American actor George Takai, who many American’s will remember as the valiant Sulu of  TV’s science fiction program Star Trek, said in an almost off hand way that…

“African-Americans have made enormous advances. There are a whole host of bankable stars who are African-American. Can you name one bankable Asian-American star? No. There isn’t. You have Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson. A whole host of them. One can’t name a single Asian-American whose name you can take to the bank and get a project financed. We are making headways.”[1]

In saying this I’m sure he did not mean that African American male actors had conquered all racial challenges, barriers, and obstacles of the present and past.  He was purely saying that he wished that Asian American men hoped for similar success in the American professional acting world.  The bravery and courage to use his notoriety to make this statement should be applauded and we can only hope he (and Asian men in general) are successful in quickly achieving the visibility and working regularity they seek.

How do we know the struggle for African American visibility is a huge struggle? We can tell by the desperation apparent in the current competition for the role of Marvel Comics super hero Luke Cage or Powerman. Who is Luke Cage? Created in the 1960’s as a likely expression of African American activist’s desire for equality, frequently expressed as “Black power”, then genius editor and founder Stan Lee and company created an embodiment of the sentiment.  So influential was this character, even actor Nicholas Cage borrowed the last name when trying to distinguish himself from the then epic family name Copolla.  In a world of Supermen and Wonder Women the name Powerman was an incredible moniker of prestige and potential.

Yet to be exact there is no planned Luke Cage/Powerman movie in the works.  The last time the title was discussed it was African American director wunderkind, John Singleton (who recently finished Abduction with Taylor Lautner) was attached to the project.   But even by Hollywood standards this discussion occurred a long time ago.  So why would anyone think a Powerman movie was in the works; 1.) In recent years Marvel has achieved an out standing number of hits in the super hero genre, 2.)  Luke cage is a current member of the super hero group the Avengers, which currently filming with its earliest incarnation of members 3.)  Cage’s comic book wife Jessica Jones/Jewel is being discussed as the lead of her own T.V. show.  All of these events suggest that the need for a Powerman should soon be necessary.

To fill this need African American actors are trying out in an unprecedented manner though there have been no formal auditions or notice of an available job.  What are their prospects?  As history teaches us the type of actor being sought will likely be extremely tall, extremely large and muscular. African American men are so prevalent in Hollywood that this type is almost always sought: Michael Clark Duncan, Ving Rhames, and Quinton Aaron are just a few of the actors who typically fill this type.  Discussed as everything from monsters to miracle workers, stories about these men are extremely prevalent.  Yet a new generation of these actors is manic to be cast as the well-known super hero.  Of the many actors who have been discussed or are circulating for this role here are a few: Idris Elba, Tyrese Gibson, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Isaiah Mustafa, Eric Thomas Wilson, Brian J. White, Terry Crews, Henry Simmons, and Michael J. White. 

You may notice that though most can claim some acting experience, few except Elba can claim to be A-listers. Does this matter?  It depends on your business opinion or expectation, when the current age of super heroes began in the 1970’s with Superman: The Movie a way to move beyond the genre’s history of campy interpretations was to hire actors of great acting acumen.  Since then actors like Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicholson, Ned Beatty and others have graced these roles.  Recently equally valued actors like Liam Neeson, Toby Maguire, Ian McKellen, Morgan Freeman and Robert Downey Jr. have graced a number of these lead and supporting characters.  A uncanny situation, because actors of high esteem and even higher asking price already hold many of these roles, (and there are plans to integrate these actors together in pricey group assemblies in the future), a unique candidate may succeed. One member of this usual acting type and generation, though inexperienced, may just win out.  Because many are betting on this, and they have made cyber space the ultimate audition forum we are able to show you how candidates are competing for the role.  Enjoy!

 Isaiah Mustafa

Please click here to see video

Please click here to see video

 Eric Thomas Wilson

Please click here to see video

Tyrese Gibson

Please click here to see video

QuintonRampage” Jackson

Please click here to see video



3 Responses to “Luke Cage Role: The Battle is On”

  1. Open Book July 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM #

    I really like the audition clips of Isaiah Mustafa. The first one is hilarious!

    • Littlebells July 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM #

      I’m gonna have to agree. I think Isaiah really looks and sounds the part. I have never heard of this super hero before. I really hope it can make it to the screen.

    • comic relief July 23, 2011 at 12:44 PM #

      I agree. He used his “Old Spice” money well.

      I don’t want to underestimate him, given that this resume continues to grow. But Idris Elba, Tyrese Gibson, Terry Crews, Henry Simmons, and Michael J. White all have significant feature film experience. I would hope for his sake that these presentations might even the odds.

      Of course this all depends on the studio and Director.

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