Sweet Christmas! This fall Marvel rolls out it’s next exclusive Netflix series, Luke Cage. Marvel has a pretty good track record of updating even the most obscure characters and adapting them to the big screen. However, some characters probably will never be a good fit. In their infancy, the Luke Cage comics began publication during a time when Blaxploitation films were rising in popularity. There were plenty of insensitive, downright racist, or just plain bizarre Marvel heroes that would never exist today — which is probably a good thing.
That said, here are five villains from that bygone era that probably won’t see the light of day on the new Luke Cage series.
What’s His Deal?: The original Steeplejack, Jake Mallard, was just a guy who wanted to get revenge for his brothers after they died on the site of a shoddy construction job. Basically, his origin is like what would happen if Batman was a tradesman instead of a wealthy future-orphan.
He then tried to get revenge against his employer Maxwell Plumm. Luke Cage stepped in because murdering your boss for poor safety standards is a no-no on the justice scale. The original Steeplejack got himself killed.
Later, in what must be a weird PTSD symptom, Maxwell Plumm became the new Steeplejack. He also got himself killed when he made the mistake of drinking in a bar ambushed by the Scourge of the Underworld.
When the Marvel Comics gig didn’t work out Steeplejack reinvented himself as a He-Man villain.
Why He’d Never Work: An average construction worker in New York City can make between $35 to $78k a year. With that kind of money, Steeplejack could afford a
pretty good lawyer and sue the pants off his boss. And that’s more of a plot to a She-Hulk TV show.
Also, at that salary, I’d at least expect a costume that doesn’t look like a really awful Village People cosplay. As you can see above, he wasn’t the most racially sensitive or well dressed villain Marvel had to offer.
4.) Señor Muerte/Señor Suerte
What’s His Deal?: Not the most culturally insensitive character in this mix. He is, however, another character who had different people using his identity. The original Muerte/Suerte, Ramon Garcia, was a guy who just changed his name depending on what he was doing.
When he was winning at gambling he was Señor Suerte and when he was murdering someone he called himself Señor Muerte. His super-power was apparently not mixing up his names. Since that doesn’t make for compelling storytelling, they also gave him a fatal joy buzzer that he used to kill people.
He also wore the spinner from the Game of Life on his chest.
This backfired when he tried that on Luke Cage and electrocuted himself instead, this is what happens when your death-buzzer isn’t assembled by a licensed electrician.
Why He’d Never Work: Other than being a ridiculous hispanic stereotype? Well, the idea of a villain with a killer hand buzzer is pretty silly if they’re not wearing grease paint and fighting a guy in a bat costume.
3.) Piranha Jones
What’s His Deal?: Piranha Jones is a cautionary tale for those with bad dental hygiene! After his rotted teeth fell out at the age of 15 the harsh realities of gingivitis was all it took to convince Jones to seek a future in organised crime.
With his criminal spoils he bought himself the deadliest grill in all comicdom: a set of sharpened steel teeth. Hence his name.
Ways not to kill a guy with steel hard skin #12.
He also had a hired stooge named Cockroach Hamilton who carried around a six barrelled shotgun he lovingly named “Josh”. Hamilton really loved cockroaches and off-brand Cheesies.
Jones ran afoul of Cage when he tried to steal a bio-weapon for… reasons… ? Insult to injury, Jones was defeated in a tank filled with his namesake and had to get saved before being eaten alive. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Why He’d Never Work: A villain with steel teeth against a guy with steel skin is pretty dumb. Also, a henchman that is a walking health-code violation doesn’t make you an intimidating criminal leader.
Unless they re-imagine these guys as some weird odd couple bromance, I doubt this ridiculous pair could make the cut.
What’s His Deal?: Part of a brother combo with Stiletto, they became super villains after their dad was fired as warden when Luke Cage broke out of prison.
When it came to choosing weapons, Stiletto picked ladies footwear — er I mean knives — but Discus went with something more deadly: a Frisbee. Did he think a super-hero would be scared out of his silk shirt if a game of Ultimate broke out?
“Throwing Good” is not a super power.
After a few failed attempts at trying to get revenge against Cage, Discus went on to be just another costumed thug. He now makes token appearances in Marvel’s many scenes where stick one or two heroes in a room full of villains. Discus is always “the one the hero makes fun of for having a really stupid gimmick”.
Why He’d Never Work: Discus is such a ridiculous villain that writers would be compelled to give Luke Cage a costumed dog as a sidekick. Maybe they’d call the something like “Bulletproof the Street Dawg”. The dog would fetch whatever Discus throws at his master and return it to him. If they did this I suspect the Luke Cage series would be cancelled before the ink on that script has a chance to dry.
1.) Mister Fish
What’s His Deal?: Mr. Fish was a thug from Harlem who went for a radioactive dunk in the East River of New York and emerges from the waters as a walking racist caricature.
In story titled “Nobody Laughs at Mr. Fish!”, he tried to start his own branch of the Maggia crime families. I’m assuming at this point in time this Mafia knock-off was trying to branch off into other stereotypes to diversify their portfolio.
Seriously don’t laugh. Racism isn’t funny.
Mr. Fish went head to head with Luke Cage and apparently died falling out a window..
Why He’d Never Work: The damage this episode would cause would be enormous. Mr. Fish was a racist caricature written by white writers in time when racial stereotypes were all too frequently ignore in comics. Marvel would have to write a follow-up episode that’s basically one long apology to the NAACP.
New Grumpy Cat memes would appear all over the internet bearing simply the phrase “MR. FISH”.
I’m getting ahead of the trend.
Lastly, I’m quite sure whatever action figure tie-ins for the character would probably have asbestos, lead, or both. Mr. Fish could cause the ruination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe faster than you can say ““Whitewash Jones” (yep, another racist caricature).
If Jeph Loeb happens to be reading this, I dare you to prove me wrong.