It’s a brave new world for Marvel’s Harlem. In the Season 2 finale of Luke Cage, streaming now on Netflix, the world-famous bulletproof vigilante has taken on a scary new role in his neighborhood. But how will that influence Season 3, and possibly the future of the Marvel/Netflix universe?
To be honest, it isn’t looking too good for any of New York’s Defenders.
Major spoilers for Marvel’s Luke Cage Season 2 ahead.
In the Season 2 finale, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) inherited control of Harlem’s Paradise — and in effect, Harlem’s entire criminal underground — from Mariah Stokes-Dillard (Alfre Woodard), who was killed in prison by her own daughter, Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis). Just before she died, Mariah whipped up a new will in which she bequeathed Harlem’s Paradise to Luke, a kind of “last laugh” against her sworn enemy.
And Luke, Mariah accurately predicted, believes he can change Harlem from his position at the top of the criminal mountain. Once “Harlem’s Hero,” Luke Cage is now Harlem’s kingpin. But what does this mean for the future of the Marvel/Netflix universe? A few things.
Luke’s Lost Allies
Luke now commands a well-strapped army on the streets, but Luke may have lost his most important allies. Detective Misty Knight, his beloved Claire Temple, and his fellow superheroes in the Defenders, all may turn on Luke now that Luke isn’t a hero, but an outright outlaw.
In fact, Simone Missick, who stars in Luke Cage as Misty Knight, thinks there isn’t going to be a pleasant future for Luke and Misty’s friendship.
“Luke and Misty developed this beautiful friendship along Season 2,” Missick tells Inverse. “They both have good intentions, but sometimes execution isn’t always the best. I know Luke thinking he can be at the top of criminal activities in Harlem without walking away unscathed is something Misty, having been on the other side, thinks is completely unbelievable.”
Missick further reveals how this tension between two former allies might manifest in Season 3. “It’s going to be an interesting journey,” she says, “how they balance friendship with being loyal to the community and operating within their standards. Misty has begun to understand the gray area than she did before, but it doesn’t change the fact that she still believes she’s always right, and Luke believes he’s always right, and seeing these people at odds now after having been on the same path for so long will be exciting to watch.”
Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker tells Inverse that the ending of Luke Cage Season 2 is made for fans to ask uncomfortable questions. “We leave him in a very interesting place,” he says, “and if enough fans like the show, hopefully we’ll get this fo episodes exactly where we find him in Season 3. If we have a Season 3. I’m just hoping that fans react and feel the same about this show that we feel about this show.”
Luke’s New Obsession
Luke now owns Harlem’s Paradise, which Coker teases will be a defining new development in Luke Cage’s story.
“It’s basically the ring in Lord of the Rings,” Coker says. “It’s the best club in Harlem. But you become so obsessed with it that it costs you your soul. So the only way to get rid of that is to melt it in the volcano.”
Before Harlem’s Paradise, however, Luke had one other obsession: Mariah. In illustrating their relationship, Coker takes a detour to the DC Universe to describe Luke and Mariah as a different kind of Batman and Joker.
“This might get me in trouble with Marvel, but the relationship between Mariah and Luke is very similar to Batman and Joker in The Dark Knight,” he says. “They complete each other. One is the reason the other exists. Their relationship, how his presence pulled her out of her shell. So, at the very end, when she’s saying, ‘It’s all because of you,’ she’s not lying.”
Marvel’s Luke Cage Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.