Marvel and Netflix released a trailer for their Luke Cage show at Comic Con. Unsurprisingly, it looks awesome. With its hip-hop soundtrack, feats of strength and intriguing snippets of dialogue, it fits the tone of these shows while bringing something different. And I don’t just mean the ever-charismatic Mike Colter, who could give Chris Evans a run for his money in the charming superhero stakes.
That’s right, I said it – I now have ridiculous man-crushes on two Marvel superhero actors.
Yet there was also something familiar about the trailer. Because, like Daredevil before him, Luke Cage is having a setpiece rumble in a corridor.
Do We All Live (and Fight) in Corridors Now?
This got me thinking about corridors as spaces – what they represent both in reality and in TV shows. Aside from being useful in cool fight scenes, that is.
Corridors are places yet also the space between places. They’re part of buildings, destinations in their own right. But they’re also transitional spaces, like the motorway-based cities Warren Ellis discussed in Desolation Jones. They don’t really have identities and functions, like a bedroom or kitchen. They’re spaces we pass through.
And we spend a lot of time in them.
This is how a lot of urban space has become over the past century – something we hurry through on our way to a destination, not a place to linger in and enjoy. For those of us living in cities and towns, corridors are emblematic of the space we live in.
What better space to use in these gritty, urban superhero shows that Marvel and Netflix are creating? The conversations outside Jessica Jones’s office are often hugely important, and they take place in this limbo space, on a journey from one real place to another. When Patsy Walker keeps a visitor in the corridor, she’s keeping him in that city limbo.
When Daredevil or Luke Cage fight their way down a corridor, they’re not fighting over their real goal – they’re just trying to get there by the best means they have – violence.
Our Corridor Lives
Going deeper down the rabbit hole of this metaphor, we can see corridors as representing the way we live in the modern western world. Jobs for life, homes for life, even relationships for life, these were common in previous generations. Now they’re all the exception rather than the norm. We are in a constant state of transition.
Everything we do with our lives is now both a journey and a destination, place and transitional space, somewhere and nowhere. Our lives have become corridors.
Like superheroes learning to use their powers, we are in constant transition.
Back Around to Marvel
If ever there was a set of genre shows that explored modern life – especially modern urban life – it’s these Netflix Marvel shows. Jessica Jones is about gendered power and rape, some of the most fiercely argued subjects of the moment. Daredevil explores the corrupting influence of wealth upon the law, and whether justice really can be blind, issues constantly thrown into stark light by news from America. Luke Cage looks likely to take us into the world of criminal gangs and drug trading, a parallel society and economy living parasitically alongside the legitimate one.
And so corridors become the perfect symbol for these shows. A modern transitional space heading towards an uncertain future, both for society and for genre television.
Plus they make for some really, really good fight scenes.