This Is Why Luke Cage Is In Jail In 'The Defenders,' If You Were Wondering

by Ani Bundel

It's been a minute since we last saw Luke Cage, the Hero of Harlem. The man with the unbreakable skin is one of the four stars of Marvel's new show The Defenders, premiering on Netflix this week. But our first shot of Cage showed him in a prison jumpsuit, being lead down a hall. Moreover, in one of the lead up clips to the show's debut, we see him being released, and the lawyer who meets him is... Foggy Nelson from Daredevil? What's going on? And why is Luke Cage in jail anyway?

Well, for those of you who skipped over watching Luke Cage's stand alone series last fall, shame on you. Not only is it fantastic, with Mahershala Ali as Cottonmouth and Alfre Woodard as Mariah, but the music is top notch. But if you didn't watch, or if you've already forgotten, let's review. Luke Cage is in jail because that's where he landed at the end of his standalone series.

No, it's not for his actions in his series, though Mariah tries to frame him for murder. And he does kill the big bad in broad daylight. Instead, it's for something he didn't even do, back when he was known by his real name, Carl Lucas.

Some backstory: Carl Lucas was framed for a crime he didn't commit back when he was a young man, by his half-brother, and former best friend. No, the show never actually tells us what that crime is. (But in the comics. it's over a woman who broke up with his half-brother and wound up with Lucas.)

We know it happened down in Seagate, which is in the state of Georgia. While Carl Lucas was in prison, he was taken by the prison doctors and experimented on. Luke Cage at one point references a "fish tank" leaving us with images of him floating, much like Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

We don't know much about these experiments, but in the comics, they're related to the same ones that Steven Rogers experiences, as part of the Captain America project. What we do know is they left Lucas with unbreakable skin, and when he realized he was unstoppable, he broke out of jail.

Carl Lucas then moved to New York City's Harlem area, changed his name to Luke Cage, and spent the next few years trying to lay low, while falling in love and marrying a woman named Reva. It turned out was somehow connected to the experiments that were done on him, and also maybe the ones done on Kilgrave in Jessica Jones. But since Jessica killed her before that series started, we may never know how.

Cage might have stayed low, except that the events of his stand alone show brought him into the light. When that happened, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard outed him on TV with his real name, causing the authorities to come find him at the very end of the series, and take him back to jail.

But never fear! Claire Templeton calls out that he'll be out soon, she knows a good lawyer! We thought maybe she meant Matt Murdock. But since he just lost the Punisher case, and Foggy came to pick Cage up, we're guessing Jessica Jones must have steered her to Hogarth instead. (Foggy took a job there at the end of Daredevil's season season. But that's...another series.)