Second and last bad guy appearing in the Luke Cage trailer is Shades, who’ll be portrayed by Theo Rossi (as you can guess by the name, he’s the goon wearing sunglasses). Not much is known about his role in the show, apart from the fact that he’ll be one of Cottonmouth‘s henchmen; he’s described as “menacing, smooth and manipulative”, a relentless criminal who possesses quite some smartness. If his high-tech glasses aren’t included in the show (and I hope they’re not), it’s hardly imaginable how he could possibly pose a threat to Luke Cage, but he’ll probably be quite dangerous for his allies and friends. In the comics, he surely starts as a villain, but he follows a redemption route that eventually brings him to befriend Cage and to change his life…though it’s quite unlikely he’ll face the same evolution in the tv series. Let’s wait and see. In the meanwhile, here’s Shades.
Herman Alvarez was born in New York City, the son of Dominican immigrants who lived in Harlem. As many other young people, Herman entered a local gang, The Rivals, and because of his habit of always wearing a pair of sunglasses, he became known as “Shades” (to the point that everyone forgot his real name). Still a young man, Shades started seeing a girl, Reina, and the two had a son together, Victor. Being a father wasn’t exactly the top of Shades’ things-to-do list, so he systematically neglected his girlfriend and his son to hang out with his fellow Rivals, especially with his best friend Comanche. The gang also had as members Willis Stryker and Carl Lucas, and due to the first one’s ambition he found himself working for Sonny Caputo, a local mob boss. Shades spent most of his time between petty crimes and gang wars (especially against the “historical” nemesis of The Rivals, The Diablos), until his life of crime exacted its toll, and he was arrested along with Comanche and sent to Seagate Prison. The experience wasn’t exactly the best one in Shades’ or Comanche’s lives, since as many other non-Caucasian detained they became the targets of Billy Bob Rackman, a sadistic and abusive prison guard who made sure they had not a single moment of peace during their detention. After years of tortures and beatings, Rackman was exposed and fired…but this wasn’t enough for Shades and Comanche, and now that their enemy was not a public officer anymore, they wanted to exact their revenge on him. To do so, they broke out of prison, and they followed Rackman back to New York City, where the former guard had become a criminal himself and had been hired to kidnap a nurse, Claire Temple. While following Rackman, the duo met their old friend Carl Lucas, now going by the name Luke Cage, who was protecting Temple, at the time his girlfriend. After dealing with Rackman, Shades and Comanche wanted to reunite the old gang to take over Harlem, and they tried to recruit Cage…but he told them he was going straight now, and refused. The two criminals were arrested soon after, but out of loyalty for their old comrade they didn’t tell the officers he was actually the wanted man Carl Lucas.
Friendship was a thing, business another: when Shades and Comanche escaped once again, they were more than determined to kill their old teammate if he messed with them again. Back to the old neighborhood, Shades and his friend became hired goons for the best offerer, and they often clashed with the Heroes for Hire, the pair composed of Luke Cage and his partner Iron Fist. Of course, the two hoodlums weren’t a match for the HfH…until they were recruited by Ward Meachum, Iron Fist’s wealthy nemesis, who gave them a brand new equipment. Shades received a high-tech visor, which allowed him to shoot highly-destructive laser beams. Taken by surprise, Cage was knocked out by his former friends, but they didn’t kill him, chosing to challenge him to a final confrontation on the George Washington Bridge. This time, however, Cage was prepared, and Iron Fist was with him: together, the two heroes defeated the goons, and even learnt who their employer was…but just before being dragged away by the police, Shades managed to shoot the heroes, throwing them off the bridge. Meachum later freed both Shades and Comanche from prison, and sent them against the Heroes for Hire once again…this time they were defeated for good, as Cage had a building collapse on them. He got out of prison only years after, and this time he found a new job as one of the many guns hired by Viktor Smerdilovisc against the Marvel Knights, a team of urban superheroes composed of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Cloak & Dagger, Black Widow, Moon Knight and Shang-Chi. Even this time Shades wasn’t lucky, and he got badly defeated, absorbed into Cloak’s Dark Dimension, an alternate realm in which the permanence, even if much shorter, was extremely less pleasurable than the one in Seagate Prison. Once Cloak released him, Shades decided it was time to change life: he cut ties with Comanche, and tried to make up whatever was left of his relationship with his son Victor. It was really time for a new leaf.
Herman Alvarez is a man who had been forced to learn to take care of himself in the most desperate situations, and this made him distrustful, often greedy, but definitely street-smart and resourceful, without a proper moral compass other than self-susteinance (apart from the unusual loyalty that he feels for his friends and comrades). As Shades, he’s an expert hand-to-hand combatant and marksman, and for a time he donned a special visor built at Rand-Meachum Inc. that allowed him to shoot powerful energy blasts (much like an artificial version of Cyclops from the X-Men). More mislead than truly malicious, Shades became a hard man because of a hard life, but he’s still in time to attempt a difficult path to redemption.