Luke Cage, Harlem’s native bullet-proof hero for hire, has enjoyed a recent rebirth in the Marvel universe thanks to Netflix. His super-strength first appeared in his own comics back in 1972; and since then he’s appeared alongside other heroes like Iron Fist, Daredevil, and his eventual wife, Jessica Jones. (If none of those sound familiar, get yourself a Netflix account, you’ve got some catching up to do!)
Power Man (another Luke Cage alias) originally grew up as a young gang member in New York City. He maintains a close friendship with fellow gang member Willis Stryker, and this friendship remains even after Luke gives up the criminal life. The relationship eventually sours and Stryker gets Cage falsely imprisoned, where a biological experiment accidentally imbues him with superhuman powers. He uses these powers to escape the prison and make his way back to New York, where he becomes a “hero for hire”.
Classic Luke Cage Cosplay:
The original Luke Cage (1972) wore a bright yellow shirt, slim-fitting dark jeans, and various metal “accessories”. The look was clearly a nod to the blaxploitation style, which was popular in filmwork at the time. Let’s take a look:
For a “classic” Luke Cage cosplay, you’re going to need:
- Yellow shirt- button-down, long sleeve, collared (with lapels if possible), loose fit, (bonus points for polyester!)
- Dark blue denim jeans- slim fit
- Combat boots- military surplus and thrift stores should have these in stock
- Large link prop chain- Measure your waist and add 12 inches. That’s how long your chain needs to be.
- Sheet foam
- Metallic Silver spray paint
- Yellow leather paint (regular spray paint will chip as the shoe flexes when you walk)
This cosplay comes together pretty easily. Just remember some important details:
- Leave the shirt open- Perhaps just button the very bottom so that it’s easy to tuck it into your snug fitting jeans.
- Lay down newspaper and use the yellow spray to paint your boots yellow. It should take more than one coat for a polished look. Hold the can several inches away from the boots for smooth coverage. Consult this quick tutorial for more details.
- Tuck your jeans into your boots.- This is the reason we suggest slim fit.
- Make yourself some easy wrist bracers with this tutorial here, and paint them silver. (If you plan to rock this cosplay frequently, consider a clear topcoat after you paint for durability.)
- Through that same process, you can make yourself his headpiece. Just modify the pattern. Be sure to scale it to your head measurements.
- Wrap the chain around your waist like a belt and let the extra hang.
Thunderbolts Luke Cage Cosplay:
Polyester did not stay fashionable forever. Luke Cage saw new life in a 90s era comic reboot as well as appearances within other series. By 2006, he was leading the Thunderbolts. His look was updated to be reflective of the times once again.
The supply list for a Thunderbolts Luke Cage cosplay may look a bit familiar:
- Yellow T-shirt- Crew neck, Shoot for something that fits a bit tight for that rippling muscle effect.
- Black pants- slim fit
- Combat boots- Once again, military surplus and thrift stores should have these in stock.
- Wide belt- If you can’t buy it silver, paint it silver following the tutorial video above.
- Sheet foam- Get something a little thicker than the usual 3mm to modify your boots and make bracers.
- Metallic Silver spray paint
- Black gloves- Thin fabric, Cut the fingertips off.
- Bald cap- This is totally optional, but it is a big difference between Thunderbolt Cage and Power Man.
The hardest thing about this cosplay is just customizing a few key pieces keeping the following points in mind:
- To get the boots on and off easily, use a velcro closure on the silver cuff attachments. This way, they are not permanently affixed to the boot. This also leaves the boots free to be used with other cosplays!
- For these bracers, consider using a thicker foam to get that bulkier look. This tutorial works with a thick foam.
Modern Luke Cage Cosplay:
The character of Luke Cage, born Carl Lucas, has evolved tremendously over the last 40+ years. The current iteration is no longer “for hire”, and has updated from the decidedly disco-era yellow shirt to a modern look in Netflix’s new series. You can look like Luke Cage for your next convention with a trip to the local thrift store and a little bit of effort.
Can you do a cosplay without reference images? The answer is certainly, NO. So first off, let’s collect some reference images for Modern Luke Cage.
Now for the supply list. Based on the pictures, you’re going to need:
- Dark hoodie- black or dark gray, preferably the kinds that zips up rather than a pullover
- Dark blue denim jeans
- Bald cap
- Solid black shoes- Boots can work, but a sturdy work shoe is sufficient.
The supply list doesn’t sound particularly impressive, does it? Now it’s time for the fine-tuning. Let’s take this from comfy fall outfit, to Luke Cage cosplay! Attention-to-detail is what will make your cosplay Sweet Christmas!
- Hole-y Hoodie- Simply use scissors to cut small slits in the hoodie and then stretch them out for a distressed look.
- Remove the string- If you’re watching the Netflix series closely, his hoodies never have the drawstring in the hood. We don’t know why, but it’s a detail worth mentioning.
- Fitted jeans- Boot cut is fine here since the pants don’t tuck into the boots; but they still cannot be baggy.
- Don’t forget the goatie- Grow one, or check out this quick tutorial to do one with makeup.
Make sure that you tag us or use #CosplayKiss when you share your awesome Luke Cage cosplay on social media!