(Warning: Contains plot details for the season finale of “Luke Cage”)
For 12 episodes “Luke Cage” was devoted to rejecting the usual visual cues of superhero tales in favor of a more realistic feel. Luke (Mike Colter) briefly wore the Power Man suit he originally sported back in the 1970s, but quickly deemed it ridiculous and ditched it. Instead, he wore a bullet-riddled hoodie, a powerful statement considering how the names of black men killing in police shootings have become common in news broadcasts lately.
But in the final episode, showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker finally gave Marvel fans the comic book brawl they’ve been waiting for, and it came with the arrival of Willis “Diamondback” Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey) in a Hammertech suit designed to beat Luke. The suit was designed to resemble the outfit he wore in the comics in the 70s, with a bulky green jacket and a yellow turtleneck that resembles the underside of a snake.
But how exactly does the suit work? In case you didn’t understand Luke’s explanation after the fight, here’s the details. For starters, the suit was designed to absorb the impact from Luke’s superhuman punches and keep Stryker from flying like all the foolish henchmen that Luke beat up in the previous episodes. But in addition to this, the suit used that energy and turned it into a power source for the gloves Stryker used to kill Officer Albini and Damon Boone. The gloves had enough power to kill a mere mortal, but it would take more power to put a dent in Luke.
But Stryker ended up giving Luke the key to defeating him thanks to his boxing training all those years ago. He remembers that Stryker taught him to be resilient and let his opponent tire himself out by pummeling him on the ropes. Luke noticed that every time he hit Stryker with his best shot, he could hear the high-pitched whine of the suit’s battery charging up. So he let Stryker empty his suit’s energy by smashing him into a van. Once Stryker had drained himself of all his energy, all Luke had to do was hit him with a few haymakers to end the fight.
It’s a fitting ending to their conflict. Much like Captain America, Luke Cage was a hero who would rather be a shield than a sword. Though he was certainly capable of clearing a room of bad guys when the situation called for it, Luke would do his best to use as minimal force as possibly and resisted violence as much as he could. That was particularly true when he reluctantly attacked two cops to avoid arrest.
Diamondback, on the other hand, loved to use his power to inflict pain on anyone around him. Ultimately, Luke’s temperance won out over Stryker’s ruthlessness. The question is, will Luke have to find a different approach if Dr. Burstein gives Stryker superpowers?