The newest villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is perhaps the most stylish baddie the MCU has ever seen, and not just because he runs in a gang called the Stylers. John McIver, played by Harlem native Mustafa Shakir, appears as the chief antagonist in Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix.
A “boogeyman” who made a name for himself running with a Jamaican gang, Bushmaster has become his own force to be feared throughout Harlem. Though his name is ripped from the comics, there are some major differences between the old Bushmaster who originated from the Power Man comic book series, and the new Bushmaster of the MCU.
Here’s all you need to know about Bushmaster.
The First Bushmaster
Created by comic legends John Byrne and Chris Claremont for Iron Man #15 in 1977, Bushmaster is the alias for John McIver, a crime boss originating from the Caribbean who rose the ranks of the Maggia, an international crime syndicate you might be familiar with from the Marvel series Agent Carter.
Unlike the live-action series Luke Cage, Bushmaster had no family relation to Mariah Stokes, a.k.a. “Black Mariah.” Nor did Bushmaster gain his powers from herbs concocted by Tilda, who in the comics goes by the alter-ego Nightshade.
Instead, John McIver grew up with his brother, Quincy, getting on by the skin of their teeth. When Quincy lost his limbs in an accident escaping from the police, John left Quincy behind for Europe, where he became part of the Maggia syndicate. He soon got involved in Luke Cage’s world when Misty Knight was assigned an undercover operation to infiltrate McIver’s organization.
Eventually, Bushmaster caught the attention of Luke Cage — then going by the name “Power Man” — and Iron Fist. After several battles, their war ended when Bushmaster, with the help of his son Cruz, underwent a bootleg operation that gave Luke Cage his powers to become “Power Master.” For a very, very brief time, Power Master fought Power Man, before Luke got the upper hand and defeated Bushmaster.
The New Bushmaster
Years later, Quincy took over the mantle held by his brother. With the help of Roxxon — which should be alarmingly familiar name for fans of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger — Quincy was given prosthetic limbs and the body of a snake, where he soon joined the very good company of serpent villains of the Marvel Universe, collectively known as the Serpent Society. (If that name is familiar, it’s because “Serpent Society” was the fake-out title for what would become Captain America: Civil War.)
While John McIver may have been the first Bushmaster, Quincy has been the one to hold the identity the longest. He’s made cameos in blockbuster event comics like 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men and in last year’s Secret Empire.
The MCU’s Bushmaster
As fans learned in Luke Cage, Bushmaster’s history is tied with the cunning villainy of the Stokes. Seeking revenge, Bushmaster gains immense strength and agility from special herbs to eliminate Luke Cage and take over what the Stokes have in Harlem for himself.
But in the end, Bushmaster disappears into the wind, as Luke Cage rises to become the new kingpin of Harlem. Bushmaster’s fight with Mariah may be over, but he may not be done with Luke Cage just yet.
Marvel’s Luke Cage Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.