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Quentin Tarantino Wanted to Make ‘Luke Cage’ With Laurence Fishburne, but Friends Talked Him Out of It

The Marvel adaptation is one of Tarantino's most coveted unfinished projects, and the director recently shared thoughts on his dream casting.

American writer and film director Quentin Tarantino pose for photographers prior to the premiere of the movie 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood' in Moscow, RussiaRussia Movie Premiere, Moscow, Russian Federation - 07 Aug 2019

Quentin Tarantino

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/Shutterstock

The list of unmade Quentin Tarantino projects is a fascinating rabbit hole to explore, as the Academy Award-winning director appears to have a bottomless well of ideas from every genre imaginable. From his R-rated and possibly still-developing take on “Star Trek” to “Kill Bill Volume Three” and even a James Bond movie, Tarantino’s got enthusiasm and inspiration to burn. One of those often bandied-about projects is his would’ve-been entrée into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Luke Cage: Hero for Hire.”

A longtime obsessive of the Blaxploitation genre, Tarantino would seem a natural fit to take on the comic book world’s first black superhero from the early 1970s. He actually first considered adapting “Luke Cage” after the release of “Reservoir Dogs” in 1992, and as revealed on a recent episode of Amy Schumer’s podcast “3 Girls, 1 Keith” (via The Guardian), he even dreamed of casting Laurence Fishburne in the title role.

“There was a time before all this Marvel shit was coming out,” Tarantino said. “It was after ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ it was before ‘Pulp Fiction,’ and I had thought about doing ‘Luke Cage.’ Growing up I was a big comic-book collector, and my two favorite [comic books] were ‘Luke Cage: Hero for Hire,’ later ‘Luke Cage: Power Man,’ and ‘Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu.'”

But, Tarantino said his “comic-geek friends” went in another direction, and talked him out of it. “I had an idea that Larry Fishburne would’ve been the perfect guy to play Luke Cage. But all my friends were like, ‘It’s got to be Wesley Snipes.’ And I go, ‘Look, I like Wesley Snipes, but Larry Fishburne is practically Marlon Brando. I think Fish is the man.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, but he’d have to get in shape in a big way. Snipes is that way already!’ And I go, ‘Fuck that! That’s not that important! Fuck you, you ruined the whole damn thing!’”

Indeed, Luke Cage made its way to the screen in the form of Netflix’s ongoing, popular series starring Mike Colter in the title role. While Tarantino has said he only has one movie left in him, a Marvel movie swan song might sound unlikely. But a television foray could be one workaround out of retirement, and he’s hinted at possible loopholes, including a western TV series he’s written. He’s also mulling a literary career, as he recently revealed he’s interested in a novelization of his last film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” in addition to another planned fiction book about a World War II veteran.

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