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No review today (busy weekend), so instead, you get my thoughts on the follow-up to Luke Cage. Obviously there are spoilers for the whole season.
Now that Luke Cage has been released and we’ve had some time to digest it, there is a lot to unpack as far as where these characters will go from here. Luke Cage was unique when compared to the other Netflix shows in that this one ended with the least definite resolution. Daredevil season 1 ended with Matt in a very good place in both his personal and superhero lives. Jessica Jones season 1 ended with Jess still about as broken as ever, but in a position to begin healing and helping. Daredevil season 2 ended with a bit of unresolved tension, as Matt revealed himself to Karen and the Hand began the process of resurrecting Elektra, but the primary conflict did end with the Hand defeated and Frank Castle walking around wearing a skull on his chest. Compare that to Luke Cage, and Daredevil season 2 practically wraps it all up with a bow!
In other words, we’ve got a lot to talk about as far as where things will go from here!
Obviously there will be spoilers for Luke Cage ahead, and obviously there will be a ton of wild speculation as far as Iron Fist and The Defenders are concerned.
Let’s start off the bat with “Harlem’s Captain America,” who ended the season in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service, which was in the process of returning him to Georgia to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Interestingly, Luke went with them willingly —which is a good thing, because I doubt the Marshal Service packs the Judas 2.0! We weren’t told exactly how much time Luke had left on his sentence when he escaped from prison, but it’s a good bet that when you factor in the punishment for escaping custody he is looking at a good five or more years in prison.
Or he would be, if he weren’t going to get out just in time for The Defenders next year…
At the end of the season Claire told Luke that she would call her lawyer friend (obviously Matt Murdock) and see what he can do to get Luke out. Couple that with the fact that Bobby Fish found Diamondback’s file clearing Luke of all charges, and I have a pretty good idea how Luke will get out of prison. My guess is that Matt will take a day trip to Georgia, shove that file down the Georgia court system’s throat, and demand that they return his super-soldier. Then the two of them get back to New York just in time to stop the villain in The Defenders. I’m sure Catholic Guilt and Preacher’s Boy will have a lot to discuss in the car!
At the end of the season Claire sees an advertisement for Colleen Wing’s dojo. It’s a pretty safe bet that the next time we see her will be on Iron Fist, and she will bring Colleen and Danny into the fold.
Of course, Claire will really come into her own in The Defenders when she gets to play the Phil Coulson role by bringing all the heroes together to face the bigger threat.
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To Marvel’s credit they did not do what I think everyone was expecting them to do with Misty in Luke Cage. In other words, Misty still has both arms, though they teased her losing an arm at least twice in the final couple episodes. I don’t think her arm is out of danger yet, though; she could easily find a reason to lose an arm in The Defenders, which is her next confirmed appearance.
At the end of Luke Cage Misty is still working for the police department, though it is clear that she is starting to question the system after watching Mariah Dillard walk out the door a freewoman after murdering her cousin and conspiring to murder a witness. Our last shot of her is in Harlem’s Paradise, watching Shades and Mariah survey their domain and plan to rebuild their empire. Odds are pretty good that at some point Misty will have a serious falling-out with the police department, lose her job, and start working as a freelance investigator. This may even be what happens to her during The Defenders.
Hernan “Shades” Alvarez and “Black” Mariah Dillard
Unique among the Marvel Netflix shows to-date, Luke Cage actually ended with the villains on top. Shades survived Diamondback’s “retirement party.” Mariah had all charges dropped. Given that all the leaders of Harlem’s criminal element were executed by Diamondback, Shades and Mariah are sitting pretty as the undisputed leaders of Harlem’s underworld. And with Luke on his way to Georgia (and no other heroes to speak of in Harlem at the moment) they really don’t have anything to worry about.
Considering that Claire found an advertisement for Colleen Wing’s dojo in Harlem there is a definite possibility that at least part of Iron Fist will take place in Harlem, though that doesn’t mean that Danny and Colleen will be going after Shades and Mariah. If they do not appear in Iron Fist, it seems somewhat unlikely that they would appear as more than minor characters in The Defenders; considering that Luke practically dismantled their organization by himself I don’t think he would need help from anyone other than Matt (not Daredevil; Matt himself) to take them down once and for all.
There are still three Netflix seasons announced for after The Defenders (The Punisher, Daredevil season 3, and Jessica Jones season 2), but I don’t see the Harlem villains factoring into any of them in any meaningful way. As such, I think the most likely scenario is that they will appear in a “team-up season”: Heroes for Hire (combining Luke Cage and Iron Fist) or Daughters of the Dragon (teaming up Misty Knight and Colleen Wing). Neither of these has been announced, but either of these would be a logical continuation of the Marvel Netflix universe following The Defenders.
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Willis “Diamondback” Stryker
Considering how good of a villain Diamondback was for Luke this season I wasn’t overly surprised to see that he survived their final fight. However, it was a bit startling when I realized that Dr. Burstein was there to oversee Diamondback’s “treatment.”
Obviously this means that Burstein is going to attempt to recreate the accident which gave Luke his unbreakable skin, using Diamondback as his guinea pig (based on his theory that something about Luke’s DNA was a factor). And let’s be honest here: does anyone think this is actually going to work out well? The best case scenario from this is that the procedure fails and Diamondback gets killed (which is also the least likely scenario); the worst case scenario is that the procedure succeeds perfectly, Diamondback kills Burstein, and he then comes after Luke again. The most likely scenario in my estimation is that the procedure will succeed and Burstein will offer Diamondback to the military under the terms of the Sokovia Accords. After serving as a bulletproof hit man for a while, however, Diamondback will decide he’s had enough, kill his handlers, evade the military, and return to Harlem to mix it up with Luke again, either in Luke Cage season 2 or Heroes for Hire.
For as much as I like Diamondback as a foil for Luke, I did think the final fight sequence of the season suffered from the same problem as the fight in The Incredible Hulk did: 2 strong tough guys wailing away on each other can only hold your attention for so long before it gets repetitive. Hopefully the next time Luke and Diamondback fight they will find ways to freshen it up.
As I said at the beginning, Luke Cage ends with the most unresolved plot threads of any Marvel Netflix show to-date, which gives a lot of opportunity for these threads to be resolved, either in a Luke Cage follow-up or in another series. I am very interested in seeing where these will go, particularly with regard to Luke and Misty. I have no doubt that Luke will be released before or during The Defenders, but the fact that he may very well start the team-up miniseries behind bars certainly changes the expectations regarding that series.
Which of these characters are you most interested to see in the future? Where do you think they will pop up next? Let me know in the comments!