Warning: Contains Spoilers for Season 1 of Luke Cage. We absolutely do not advise reading if you haven’t seen the full first season yet.
Luke Cage started as your typical Marvel & Netflix superhero series. A street level hero in a gritty environment, not afraid to use a little excessive violence on his foes (not that Power Man could really do anything but excessive). The villain also seemed to be your typical Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave type. Overly excessive with the violence, deadly, and uncontrollable. Cottonmouth had all of these characteristics in spades. Then, in episode 7, everything changed when the villain we’ve been getting to know was killed to reveal a second villain with closer ties to our hero. Diamondback was introduced in a dramatic fashion, firing a Judas bullet at Cage, penetrating his bullet proof skin for the first time.
Luke Cage gave us something both Daredevil and Jessica Jones had not: multiple villains. Besides Cottonmouth, Black Mariah, and Shades, Diamondback was also introduced and somehow managed to up the stakes even higher than they already were. Willis Stryker, aka Diamondback, had a much more personal motivation as to why he had such a hatred for Luke Cage. As it turns out, Diamondback is actually Luke Cage’s half brother, which made the rivalry even that much more complicated.
While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, actor Erik LaRay Harvey talked about his character’s motivation, and why Diamondback is so dead set on taking down his half brother. According to Harvey, Diamondback’s motivations might just be as complicated as his relationship with Luke Cage.
“Well, in a sense, this is a game to him. I think truly deep down, inside, he still loves Carl. That’s the funny thing about family, right? You hate ‘em but you love ‘em. You love ‘em but you hate ‘em. [Laughs] It’s one of those situations. He remembers a loving time they had before they had the mess, so [the thinking] is partly like, ‘I really need to hurt him but I don’t want to kill him.’ So it becomes this game, and I think the smile is just the mask he wears with everyone. It’s not genuine. He’s not trying to be nice or to befriend anyone. It’s just his way of dealing with his pain. He smiles through his pain.”
Iron Man’s enemies aren’t the only Marvel villains to use the hero’s own powers and technology directly against them, as Diamondback was shown in the possession of a tech suit (from Justin Hammer’s company, no less) that gave the villain comparable strength to Luke Cage whenever he put it on. Harvey continues to talk about the similarities between the live action and the original print version of Diamondback, and how the suit upgrade helped to even the playing field.
“They were trying to incorporate as much of the original character as they could, so the color scheme is the same. In the comics, it was just, like, his regular clothes. He went out every day in that green jacket, that was just his look! Lookin’ like a pimp daddy. [Laughs] But this suit he wears in the show is more armor. It allows him the ability to go into a fight with Luke and not get hurt. He can be punched, but he can hit as well, you know? Once he’s got that suit on, he gets on equal terms [with Luke], which is something he’s always wanted to be. He’s always wanted to be seen as an equal and he never had a chance. Anytime he does, he really enjoys it, and he’s a happy man.”
Lastly, when asked about Diamondback’s potential to return for a season 2, or possibly even The Defenders, Harvey pleaded the fifth. In the sense that he genuinely had no idea. His “ending” was left somewhat ambiguous, so a return would make complete sense.
“I do not. Marvel is secretive. They left it open-ended — I’m just so glad they didn’t kill me off! [Laughs] But I think it’s been a challenge to Marvel, because here we are talking about how this story is about family. What should Marvel do with the brother of Luke Cage? That’s a good question, and I don’t know [the answer], they haven’t told me. All I know is I’m in a hospital bed. What is [the doctor] going to do? What’s he there for? I’m really interested to see if any of those questions will be answered.”
What did you think about the first season of Luke Cage? Did you enjoy the show’s multi-villain approach, and did you think Diamondback was a strong villain? Let us know below in the comments!
Luke Cage is now available to stream on Netflix.