At C2E2 the sad, event-born death of longtime Marvel character Luke Cage was reported on by Patrick Reed and worth quoting at length:
The audience began with some lightweight questions about Deadpool appearing in Thunderbolts, the new role of The Sentry / The Void in the Marvel Universe, and the relationship between The Scarlet Witch and Rogue. Then, a fan named Andre Cottrell got up and asked about Luke Cage’s role in Age Of Ultron, and for clarification as to whether or not he had been killed off-panel. Tom Brevoort answered that yes, he was dead. The exchange intensified when Cottrell inquired why the major black character was cheated out of getting a decent death scene, when every other character got a dramatic exit. (Cage survives a nuclear strike in Age Of Ultron #4, and then disappears from the action. His demise is acknowledged by Emma Frost in the closing pages of the issue.)
The panelists’ reactions made it clear that this detail wasn’t something they’d thought about from this perspective (Brevoort commenting that he found it to be an emotionally affecting moment), and the discomfort led from some half-hearted jokes into a brief exchange about diversity and how Brevoort sees the Marvel Universe expanding to be “more representative of the audience”.
(In the days since, I’ve been reading coverage of the panel, and I find it particularly troubling how different news sources have either ignored this part of the Q&A, or mentioned it in a rather disingenuous way: Comic Book Resources describes the exchange as “lively and light-hearted”, Newsarama brushes it off by quoting Brevoort’s joke about doing better “the next time we kill Luke Cage”. I thought that the Marvel staffers onstage were clearly thrown off-balance by the question, but dealt with it in an up-front and sincere way; quoting only their jokes makes them appear less sensitive than they actually were, and reflects the media’s disinterest in continuing this conversation.)
While it’s hard to know how much of this is killing of black characters (Giant Man/Goliath died in Civil War, although his consciousness drifts around ripe for reincarnation) and killing of characters who don’t have movie deals in the works, Sweet Christmas….you deserved better than that for now, Luke Cage. But rest assured, as soon as a bankable African American star shows up who wants to play you…well, maybe your consciousness will be found floating around out there as well.
Wait, I’m told this is all a hoax and an imaginary story so yay it’s only an awkward panel moment.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.