In part three of our interview with “Luke Cage” Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, we discuss the significance of the titular character wearing a hoodie. While it is a significant upgrade from the yellow shirt and tiara worn in the comics (which is hilariously spoofed in the show) there has been considerable discussion on the political message it may be sending as it relates to the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin in 2012.
In the first episode Cage is a quiet working man whose abilities are known only to his friend Pop, as he wants to keep a low profile. However, as with most hero narratives, he comes to a crossroads one night where he simply can’t ignore an injustice and takes action. The hoodie he is wearing is circumstantial–it’s what he’s wearing to go running–but becomes significant in defining who he is.
“We know that the term thug is the new N-Word,” says Coker. “Even my own son’s reaction to seeing Luke Cage dressed in a hoodie was ‘Why do you have Luke Cage dressed like a thug?’ And my response was that I’ve been wearing hoodies for 30 years. I’m a Stanford graduate. I’m not a thug. What you wear doesn’t make you a thug. And my whole thing was that Black men wearing hoodies could also be heroes. And I saw an opportunity with this show to change the conversation. What we do with the symbol of that is, rather than think about the tragedy of what happened with Trayvon, which is always on our minds, we wanted to also use the power of that imagery to propel it forward in terms of identity and having a hero that says you can’t put us in a box and you can’t kill our spirit.”
Watch the full video above where he also talks about the early trending topic #CagedHova and how social media has impacted the show.