With The Defenders finally behind them, Netflix continues to separate its heroes from the rest of the MCU. Do not expect any clunky references to Infinity War in the second season of Luke Cage. Going forward, Mike Colter’s hero-for-hire will be concerned exclusively with the well-being of Harlem.
The second season drops on June 22nd and runs the usual 13 episodes. Will it suffer the same problems of filler the show experienced the first go-around? Hopefully not. The first half of the first season is some of the finest comic book drama produced by Netflix, but gosh, that back half was a depressing letdown. I have my fingers perpetually crossed for an evenly paced series.
Digging into the trailer a little further, Luke Cage Season 2 offers a lot of promise. There is no denying the sex appeal of Mike Colter. The guy is a god among men, a perfect hunk to frame the local avenger. More Alfre Woodard, more Simone Missick, more Rosario Dawson. Yes, Yes, Yes. The ladies of Luke Cage desperately need more attention this time through.
Apparently, at some point, Finn Jones will make a guest appearance as Iron Fist, but we only get the briefest glimpse of his involvement here. My big concern revolves around the new villain. Will Bushmaster lean closer to Mahershala Ali’s diabolical Cottonmouth or Erik LaRay Harvey’s lamebrain Diamondback?
As some nefarious individual dynamites the magical markdowns within the Merlin Discount Furniture truck, Luke Cage steps forth from the flaming rubble to smash the bomber in the face. In what appears to be Luke’s attempt at viral marketing, the bulletproof crimefighter films a message to those that dare to invade his neighborhood. “Yo, I’m Luke Cage. Want to test me? You know where to find me.” Villains, step right up.
We hear Reg E. Cathey‘s (RIP) troubled reverend chastise the celebrity forming around the Harlem hero, “Everybody talking about Luke Cage like he’s Jesus.” Cage steps out of a smoothie shop and every woman on the street swoons at Mike Colter’s perfect specimen of a man. Coming out of Season 1 and The Defenders, Cage is primed for another fall from grace. His confidence is about to be shaken.
Reg E. Cathey does not trust the “ghetto boogeyman of their nightmares.” With his robes prominently displayed behind him, Cathey addresses his concerns to a painting of St. John baptizing Christ. Thou shall not worship false idols. Where does a religious leader land in a world populated by the Hulk let alone a bulletproof black man? He denies one man’s ability to save the city.
As Cathey states that “Luke Cage is nothing but a man” we witness Mustafa Shakir’s Bushmaster walk straight up to our hero and land a deadly uppercut. As the first season succeeded with Cottonmouth and Black Mariah, Season 2 will radically alter another member of Luke Cage’s rather lame rogue’s gallery into a serious threat.
In the comic books, Bushmaster is a European crime boss that had his skin transformed into “unliving metal” after a confrontation with Luke Cage. This contamination eventually led to his death, and his brother took on the mantel. The second Bushmaster was powered by bionic limbs including a robotic snake tail. Thankfully, it does not look like Shakir’s villain will share much with his comic book counterparts.
Bushmaster does state that “Harlem is mine.” The soul of the neighborhood is in danger once more. We’ll see a little more of his terrifying power set a few shots later.
Footage of the Bushmaster beatdown spreads like wildfire. Once again, Cage’s reputation as a badass is put into contention. Even ESPN expresses disappointment at this positive role model’s physical defeat. Cage stumbles into his apartment spewing blood into the sink. He may not be invulnerable, but he won’t allow himself to topple a second time.
Anyone who can take Cage down in a fight can’t be good for Harlem. Cage collapses into the neighborhood barbershop and relives the crushing defeat in his mind. He rallies, “I gotta find him.” The hoodie goes back up, and Cage charges into battle.
Misty Knight asks an unnamed hood what makes Bushmaster so scary. The goon responds, “I hope you never find out.” A series of unknown assailants unload their pistols into Bushmaster, but the baddie simply expels the rounds from his body. Is his “unliving metal” skin a result of the same prison experiments conducted on Luke Cage?
We watch as Cage beats his way through various villainy. Love interest Claire Temple expresses concern for the level of violence Cage is inflicting upon the faceless henchmen. “I’ve seen you raw, but never brutal.” She may be concerned by the amount of rage on display, but the audience cannot wait to see Cage unleash his full comic book potential.
Black Mariah is back (as is Theo Rossi‘s Shades). She drops a match burning down Cage’s apartment. Her base of operations remains behind the desk of Cottonmouth’s nightclub, orchestrating the nefarious deeds surrounding Harlem. What is her connection to Bushmaster? Boss or lackey?
“Harlem doesn’t need a hero, it needs a queen.” Oh yeah. Woodard is no one’s lackey. Will the real villain please stand up?
At the end of The Defenders, Misty Knight squared off with The Hand. The battle took her arm. Now, in season 2 of Luke Cage, it appears that we’re going to see the cybernetic ass-kicker we’ve always adored in the comic books. Knight looks over a schematic, contemplating her future RoboCop existence. Based on this blueprint, the arm looks to be a gift from the Rand Corporation.
Black Mariah is bringing the hardware this time around. Why should Bushmaster have all the fun?
The trailer winds down with a warning from Reg E. Cathey: “The darkness that you deal with every day, it can consume you whole if you let it. Don’t let it.” I’m betting that their relationship will teeter back and forth over the 13 episodes. Cathey will begin the series as a negative force, but will eventually learn to swoon for the hero like those ladies outside the smoothie shop. Mike Colter gets us all in the end.
Cage may not be in the market for a sidekick (sorry Iron Fist), but he will bow down to the might of Misty Knight whether or not his ego can handle it. This is his show, sure. Whatever. Based on the final henchman smackdown delivered by Knight’s robo-fist, Cage might be finding himself as a supporting player in a Misty spin-off one day.
Luke Cage Season 2 premieres on Netflix on June 22nd.