Luke Cage – Looks Like A Cinnamon Roll…

Note: This piece largely revolves around sexual racism and the sexual objectification of Black male bodies. There are references to sexual assault, descriptions of objectified Black bodies, and a link to an article on the “Brute Caricature” that includes images of lynchings.


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Fandom seems to think that Luke Cage “Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll”.

To them, Luke may read as a threat, “but is actually a cinnamon roll” because they see that he has tender and sweet moments throughout his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, fandom sanitizes his character so that it can fit this super narrow archetype about what he should be – all while assuming that he was a threat to begin with.

I’m assuming that most, if not all, of the nuance written into his characterization in Luke Cage just went right over their collective heads because a huge chunk of Luke’s arc in his solo series revolves around him trying to figure out how to effectively use his body (rather than having other people use it).

At several points, the series actually addresses Black masculinity and how Black men are inherently seen as violent threats just by existing. And yes, Luke is one of the heavy hitters of the MCU, but he doesn’t want to hurt people: he’s just constantly backed into positions where he has to use his strength to hurt people in order to protect the people in his life.

I’m also assuming that the people who look at Mike Colter and immediately go “wow, this guy looks like he can kill me” haven’t watched the news in a while to see what many killers these days look like. They also have zero common sense because Mike Colter hardly looks like he could hurt a fly.

Saying that physically powerful Black characters such as Luke Cage and American Gods‘ Shadow Moon (played by biracial Black actor Ricky Whittle) “look like they could kill you” prior to calling them cinnamon rolls seems harmless and endearing, but can be linked back to the fact that their bigness and their Blackness are what cause white audiences to view them as threats in the first place.

It’s only after these characters prove their value and their softness (usually in a way that appeals to whiteness), that they’re revered for cinnamon roll status.

But it’s rather clear why fandom does this.Read More »

Luke Cage and Claire Temple: Not Your Mammy Figures

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I’m used to seeing posts where Black characters are reduced to nannies for white characters, but this post I found in the “Claire Temple” tag on tumblr really took the cake:

“Something I totally see happening in Defenders is Claire telling Luke about how Danny “has some serious issues and needs professional help” and how he should “watch out for the kid”, but of course Luke was already doing something like that…

Look, what I’m saying is that Luke is the kind of wise, experienced and calm person that Danny could have such a healthy relationship with and I can’t wait to see them interact. >.<“[1]

Let’s talk about this.

Let’s talk about how this person wants Claire and Luke to serve as mentors for Danny, a grown ass man who is capable of everything except maneuvering around adulthood. Let’s talk about how this sort of outlook – where Black characters are expected to serve as desexualized nanny figures for white characters – is par for the course in fandom.

There are three recurring black characters across the MCU’s Netflix series: Claire Temple, Luke Cage, and Misty Knight. That’s it. Three black characters that’ll come into contact with Danny Rand and two out of the three are frequently repurposed specifically so that they can take care of white characters[2].

Luke and Claire aren’t here for your inability to visualize them as full characters outside of the Mammy/Magical Negro archetypes and they certainly don’t owe this dollar bin Danny Rand a damn thing.Read More »

Women of Color in Marvel Live Action Properties: Claire Temple

Women of Color in Marvel Live Action Properties is an essay series that will look closely at the portrayals of female characters of color by actresses of color in Marvel’s various franchises. I was inspired by the fact that a lot of these female characters don’t get anywhere as much love as white female characters in similar roles and that we’re not as likely to see fandom analyze why they’re empowering. They don’t get meta-fandom or essays unless it’s about placing them in relation to white characters. I want to celebrate the women of color that inhabit the same worlds as our favorite superheroes while looking at how and why they’re important to fans like me.


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Sometimes, if you want justice you have to get it yourself.

Claire Temple in Luke Cage Season 1/Episode 7 “Manifest”

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Claire Temple is too good for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Claire Temple is one of the best characters in the MCU and she’s one of the few recurring female characters of color the franchise has had in the almost ten years of its history. She’s also Afro-Latina – as is actress Rosario Dawson – making her one of the few Black women to have a major recurring role in the MCU following Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Raina.

In a genre that’s spent much of the past decade finding newer and more popular white male actors (often named “Chris”) to play their heroes rather than focusing on female characters or characters of color, Claire Temple is an extra awesome rarity.Read More »

Whose Luke Cage Reviews Matter To Me

I started watching Luke Cage yesterday morning and immediately I found myself bombarded with the thinkiest of thoughts.

I have thoughts on respectability politics in the series, on Luke Cage’s old-fashioned everything, on Black womanhood, on the use of the word “nigga” inside our community.

And at the end of the day, I also have thoughts about how I am absolutely uninterested in any hot takes on the series that don’t come from Black women.Read More »