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Marvel's Luke Cage: Every Easter Egg and Reference

Spoilers, naturally

Alexander Zalben

Marvel and Netflix launched their new original series Marvel's Luke Cage today, September 30, with 13 original episodes. The superhero series developed by Cheo Hodari Coker exists in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Avengers movies; but are more closely tied to fellow Netflix Originals Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Because we're so excited about the show, we recapped each episode every hour as we went through and watched: you can check out our recaps of the premiere, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, episode 5,episode 6, episode 7, episode 8, episode 9, episode 10,episode 11,episode 12, and the finale. And needless to say, spoilers for Marvel's Luke Cage past this point!

Finished watching Marvel and Netflix's Luke Cage? First of all, take a nap, because sweet Christmas, you deserve it. But right after you get up, take a look through our comprehensive breakdown of all the Easter Eggs and connections to the Marvel Comics the show is based on (plus a few other fun facts), below. And though we said it above, we'll say it again: there are spoilers for every episode of Luke Cage starting... Right... Now:

Episode 1 - "Moment of Truth"

​Mike Colter, Marvel's Luke Cage

Mike Colter, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

1) "Not a problem for you, Power Man," riffs Pop (Frankie Faison) to Luke (Mike Colter) early in the episode. In the comics, Luke was called Power Man for decades, starting with issue #17 of his self-titled comic. In recent years, other heroes have picked up the Power Man moniker, and Luke now goes by his also totally rad real name.

2) Reva Connors might take a little explanation, if you didn't watch Jessica Jones. Under the influence of the mind-controlling Kilgrave (David Tennant), Jessica (Krysten Ritter) killed Reva (the act of which broke said mind control, and freed Jessica). Later when Luke found out about this, he basically broke up with Jessica and then they had an insane fight. But all you really need to know is he never got over Reva's death.

3) You probably picked up on this one, but a guy on the street selling DVDs says, "Tony Stark, the blonde dude, the old man with the shield, the big green monster, and I don't mean Fenway! You can't get better raw footage of the incident than right here." He's talking about the alien Chitauri attack from the first Avengers movie, and totally forgot to name check Black Widow BECAUSE HE'S A MISOGYNIST.

4) "You saw what happened to Fisk," Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) warns Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali). What happened to Fisk is: he was beaten up by Daredevil in the first season of that show, and then thrown into prison. That's what happened to him.

5) Hammer Industries makes the weapons Cottonmouth is black-market selling when his deal goes sour. He also name checks Justin Hammer, the former head of the company, who was played by Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2. Though Hammer Industries has clearly continued, Justin himself was thrown into prison, showing up in a quick post-credits scene at the end of the Marvel One-Shot film, All Hail the King. Interestingly he was/is in prison at...

6) Seagate Prison, which gets mentioned by Shades (Theo Rossi) when Cottonmouth asks him how he's doing. "Seagate wasn't s---," sneers Shades, and later we find out that's where Luke was imprisoned -- and met Shades. Seagate is also where Luke was imprisoned in the books, and got his powers (more on that in a bit).

7) At the end of the episode, the proprietors of Genghis Connie's offer to hire Luke. "I'm not for hire, but you have my word ma'am, I've got you," Cage tells them. His character was first introduced in the comics in 1972 -- before the whole Power Man thing -- as Luke Cage: Hero for Hire. That name (or a variation) has popped up multiple times in the character's history, usually when he's teamed up with the upcoming Netflix hero Iron Fist as Heroes for Hire.

Episode 2 - "Code of the Streets"

​Jeremy Sample, Mahershala Ali, Theo Rossi, Marvel's Luke Cage

Jeremy Sample, Mahershala Ali, Theo Rossi, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

8) Throughout the episode, Luke is reading Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins mystery "Little Green." The mystery novel follows Rawlins as he awakens from a coma, and tries to find a missing boy. Which, since Cage awakened from a coma at the end of Jessica Jones, and headed straight for this series -- and is looking for Chico the whole episode, it's pretty clear what the connection is.

9) Turk Barrett (Rob Morgan) first showed up as a recurring character on Daredevil, and has been a supporting character in ol' horn head's comics since 1970. That's why he tells Cottonmouth, "You Harlem n-----s are off the hook. I'm going back to Hell's Kitchen where it's safe." See, it's funny, because he's always getting beaten up by Daredevil in Hell's Kitchen. It's not safe, for him at least. That's the joke. FYI.

10) Misty's partner Rafael Scarfe (Frank Whaley) was also Misty's partner in the comics. He's actually worked with all the Netflix heroes in the books, including Daredevil and Iron Fist.

Episode 3 - "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?"

Frank Whaley, Marvel's Luke Cage

Frank Whaley, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

11) "I saw the incident up close," Scarfe tells Misty (Simone Missick) while they're arguing about the merits of vigilantism. "Unless this side arm I have suddenly turns into a magic hammer, this whole job is irrelevant." The incident is the Battle of New York from the first Avengers movie, and the magic hammer is, of course, a reference to Captain America's shield. Just kidding, it's Thor's hammer.

12) Cottonmouth shouts, "Shut up, Black Mariah!" at Mariah Dillard when they're fighting in his office. Though the term has a lot of baggage (it was a slang term for police vans in Harlem back in the 1800's), it's also Mariah's supervillain name in the comics. Woodard's character is very different from the classic Luke Cage villain; but it is a sneaky mention of who she might become.

Episode 4 - "Step Into the Arena"

​Mike Colter, Marvel's Luke Cage

Mike Colter, Marvel's Luke Cage


13) Though Squabbles seems to be a totally original creation, Luke did meet both Rackham and Dr. Burstein (Michael Kostroff) in Seagate, in the comics. Rackham was pretty much the same (including messing with the experiment on Luke, which caused his powers), as was Burstein. Only twist with the latter, he was using a variation of the super-soldier serum that created Captain America to create Luke. Here, that seems to be more implied than actual text.

14) Comanche (Thomas Q. Jones), the prisoner palling around with Shades (Theo Rossi) is also from the comics, and a frequent antagonist of Luke.

15) He doesn't show up, but there's a poster behind Reva's shoulder in one scene for a talk by Warden Stuart. In the books, Stuart saved Luke from Rackham while he was in Seagate.

16) After the machine explodes, Luke emerges wearing bracelets and headgear that looks sort of like a tiara. Add in his more close shaven beard and hair, and the loose yellow shirt he finds after escaping, and you have Luke's original look from the comics. I think it looks pretty great, even if Luke sees himself and says, "You look like a damn fool."

17) Related: the production/shooting code name for Luke Cage was "Tiara," so people wouldn't storm the set.

18) After punching a hole in the prison wall, Luke says, "Sweet Christmas," his catchphrase from the books. Granted, he's already said that once before, on Jessica Jones after punching... Something else... Really hard. Cough.

19) Speaking of Jessica Jones, Reva sure does love her flash drives, doesn't she? She's gripping one with Luke's info pretty tight once he escapes; and she mentions to him, "You haven't always been a convict, I haven't always been a psychologist." In the previous series, Reva was killed for having a flash drive containing incriminating footage of experiments on the villainous Kilgrave (David Tennant). It's entirely possible, by the way, this is the same exact flash drive on both shows.

Episode 5 - "Just to Get a Rep"

​Mike Colter, Marvel's Luke Cage

Mike Colter, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

20) Hey, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) is back! She's shown up in every Marvel/Netflix series so far, first (and third) as a nurse taking care of Daredevil, and then as she tells her Mom, she helped watch Luke after he got shot in the face in Jessica Jones. Oh, and in the second season of Daredevil, she quit her hospital job.

21) Shades (Theo Rossi) shows Cottonmouth a gun test of the Judas bullet, and explains it uses metal from "the incident." That's the Chitauri attack from the first Avengers movie, so he's not-so-subtly saying it's alien metal.

22) Dapper Dan, the real life "Hip-Hop Tailor of Harlem" shows up to give Luke his suit, which is pretty cool.

Episode 6 - "Suckas Need Bodyguards"

Alfre Woodard, Marvel's Luke Cage

Alfre Woodard, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

23) Hey, it's Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), host of Trish Talk! The popular (fictional) radio show was first introduced in Jessica Jones -- Trish is Jessica's best friend -- and though it only played briefly into the previous show, Trish is also known as Patsy Walker, the comic book hero known as Hellcat.

24) "First Fisk. Then Cottonmouth. This is huge," the chief tells Misty. Fisk is Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio), the crime boss who terrorized Daredevil in the first season of his show, and then briefly in Season 2.

Episode 7 - "Manifest"

Simone Missick, Marvel's Luke Cage

Simone Missick, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

25) "You knock down a few doors, speak in a church. And now you Harlem's Captain America... N----, please," says Cottonmouth. The funny part about this is that in the comics, at least, the formula that made Luke's skin unbreakable was based on the same Super Soldier formula that created Captain America (as mentioned above).

26) "I might have a lawyer friend who can help," Claire tells Luke moments before he's shot. She's talking about Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a.k.a. Daredevil, from the series of the same name.

27) In case you're wondering, here's all the info on Luke's (definitely fake) driver's license, which he should probably think about getting renewed:

Luke Cage

Box 8629, New York, Ny 10036

DOB 12-05

Sex M / Eyes Br / Ht 6-03

E: None, R: None

Issues 12-07, Expires 02-16

Episode 8 - "Blowin' Up The Spot"

​Rosario Dawson, Marvel's Luke Cage

Rosario Dawson, Marvel's Luke Cage

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

28) Diamondback, a.k.a. Willis Stryker, only appeared in two issues of Luke Cage: Hero for Hire back in 1972, but his appearance here is surprisingly close to how he showed up in those two issues. In the books, Luke's childhood friend reemerged, still viciously jealous that Reva Connors loved Luke more than him. He kidnapped Claire Temple, threatened Luke, and it was revealed that Diamondback framed Luke and had him sent to prison. The only big difference here is that, in the books, Diamondback used exploding switchblades, which is way more ridiculous than alien-powered, exploding bullets. Right? Right.

Episode 9 - "DWYCK"


29) The fight poster hanging in Colon's Gym plugs a fight between J. Riggins and G. Turiello. Gabe Turiello was the driver for the cast on set for Luke Cage (and presumably Riggins was part of the crew too, though I couldn't track down his name).

30) So technically, if Luke's unbreakable skin was created by fusing his DNA with Abalone DNA ... he should be called Aquaman, right? Can he talk to fish?

31) After Luke was attacked by Diamondback in the comics (way back in 1972's Luke Cage: Hero for Hire), he went to Dr. Burstein, who was assisted by Claire Temple. Just like on the show (though without the acid bath).

32) Diamondback kills one of the thugs with a switchblade, which was his weapon of choice in the books (as mentioned above), though this time they're not exploding.

Episode 10 - "Take it Personal"

​Rosario Dawson, Marvel's Luke Cage

Rosario Dawson, Marvel's Luke Cage


33) During the rally, Mariah says, "That woman over in Hell's Kitchen snapped a man's neck because he was ... mind-controlling her." She's talking about Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) killing Kilgrave (David Tennant) in the finale of Jones' show. FWIW, he wasn't actually mind-controlling her at that point, but Jessica was cleared anyway because Kilgrave was a horrible monster of a human.

Episode 11 - "Now You're Mine"

Alfre Woodard, Marvel's Luke Cage

Alfre Woodard, Marvel's Luke Cage


34) Shades says, "Watchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" to Diamondback, a reference to Diff'rent Strokes, and such a solid joke that even Diamondback has to give him props. You probably picked up on this one, though.

35) The multiple discussions of how Misty almost lost her arm, or could lose her arm are all teasing that in the comics, she lost her right arm, only to have it replaced by a bionic arm, which is way cooler than a regular arm.

36) This is definitely not an actual Easter Egg, but since he died this episode: politician Damon Boone's (Clark Jackson) first and last names are the two most popular characters played by Ian Somerhalder on The Vampire Diaries, and Lost respectively. Just mentioning.

37) When Claire tricks some thugs into letting her go to Luke's hiding spot, one of them says, "Escort the night nurse here downstairs." In the comics, there is a character named Night Nurse, and originally Claire's character was going to be Night Nurse, starting with her first appearance in Daredevil. And then, when Marvel's movie division decided to use the character for the upcoming Doctor Strange, she was quickly changed to obscure Luke Cage character Claire Temple. So this is a very weird, specific in-joke.

38) Blake Tower (Stephen Rider) first appeared on Daredevil Season 2, before showing up here as district attorney and liaison to the mayor's office. He's a frequent ally of Marvel's street level heroes like Luke Cage and Daredevil in the comics, as well.

39) "Frank Castle shot the city to hell, imagine what he could do with one of these things," says Tower, in reference to the Judas bullets. Frank is played by Jon Bernthal, and he was also first introduced in Daredevil Season 2. Tower was very involved in the case to take down Castle, which led to his boss' death, and his own promotion to District Attorney.

Episode 12 - "Soliloquy of Chaos"

Simone Missick, Marvel's Luke Cage

Simone Missick, Marvel's Luke Cage


40) If you were wondering when Stan Lee would show up, this was the episode! Though "The Man" hasn't physically shown up in the Marvel/Netflix shows, he's made spiritual cameos. Here, his famous face appears on a poster outside the bodega where Method Man is robbed. "See a crime? Report it!" says Stan's smiling face; and if we could read the small print, I'm sure it would add, "Excelsior!"

41) The ridiculous super-suit Diamondback is wearing at the end of the episode ("What are you, a pimp stormtrooper?" quips Bobby Fish) is pretty close to Diamondback's costume from his first appearance in the comics, in Hero for Hire #1 and #2. Minus the helmet, mind you.

Episode 13 - "You Know My Steez"

Marvel's Luke Cage

42) Diamondback's suit is Hammertech, which is the same company that provided the Judas bullet. In Iron Man 2, Hammer was constantly trying to be better than Tony Stark; so it makes sense he'd go into the anti-hero super-suit business.

43) When asked if Luke needs an attorney, Claire notes, "I know a really good one." We get it Claire, you know Daredevil CALM DOWN.

44) Claire takes a tear sheet at the end for a defense training and martial arts class run by Colleen Wing. In the comics, Misty and Colleen are part of a Harlem based fighting duo named Daughters of the Dragon. On screen, she'll be played by Jessica Henwick, and will appear in the upcoming Iron Fist series from Marvel and Netflix.

45) Speaking of which, in case you were wondering what was up with Misty's 'do at the end of the episode: that's her classic look from the comics (along with her preference for tight red clothing)... Though without the accompanying bionic arm.

That's all the Easter Eggs and References we caught... But what did we miss? Let us know in the comments, and we'll add into the article!