Exclusive: Mike Colter Likely Not Returning As Luke Cage

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Mike Colter is probably out as Marvel’s Luke Cage.

By Nathan Kamal
| Published

Mike Colter will almost certainly not be coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to reprise the role of Luke Cage. According to our trusted and proven sources, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is not interested in bringing back Mike Colter as Luke Cage, despite the critical acclaim of his titular series on Netflix. The status of the Netflix Marvel shows and their canonicity within the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been open for debate, and not bringing back Mike Colter as Luke Cage will most definitely add a new wrinkle to the question. 

Mike Colter first began portraying Luke Cage in 2016, starring as the Marvel Comics character in the third officially licensed Netflix Marvel show (after Daredevil and Jessica Jones). The series was quickly critically acclaimed, with Mike Colter’s portrayal of the streetwise, invulnerable, but sensitive Luke Cage and Mahershala Ali’s performance as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes particularly earning applause. However, even after winning a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy and numerous other awards, the in-development third season was shut down over “creative” disagreements, which seem to have mostly been conflict between Netflix and Marvel over the direction of the show. 

Marvel’s Luke Cage

More recently, Marvel Studios has slowly been bringing elements of the Netflix shows into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe; Charlie Cox’s Daredevil (or rather, his civilian attorney identity Matt Murdock) appeared to massive fan applause in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and is said to be appearing in multiple Disney+ shows, including his own solo series, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and Echo. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk/Kingpin appeared in the Hawkeye streaming series (and is also expected to appear in Echo), while Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones is heavily rumored to be returning soon. That Mike Colter will not be returning as Luke Cage throws doubt on the idea that the character might be coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there are always options.

For one thing, it is not as though the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never recast a character before. Terrence Howard appeared in the first Iron Man movie as James Rhodes/War Machine, and was replaced by Don Cheadle (who will continue playing the character in the upcoming Armor Wars series) and Captain America foe the Red Skull was originally played by Hugo Weaving, then by Ross Marquand in Avengers: Endgame. If Mike Colter is definitely out as Luke Cage, there is definitely a precedent to simply slot a new actor in. 

However, both of those examples are characters who were played by actors early on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and not nearly as strongly associated with a role as Mike Colter is with Luke Cage. There might be more fan resistance to a new version of Power Man popping up out of the blue (possibly to team up with Mahershala Ali’s Blade and Wesley Snipes’ Blade), but we will have to see. After all, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe conveniently has the Multiverse option available these days, potentially anyone could be recast in the future.