Netflix’s shared Marvel Universe is expanding yet again, as Luke Cage: Season 2 debuts on the streaming service on June 22. The new season will explore Luke’s ongoing struggles as a hero and defender of Harlem, even as new and old enemies join forces to bring him down.
It’s been a while since Season 1 made its debut, and we don’t blame you if you’re a little rusty on your Luke Cage continuity. Here’s everything you need to know before diving into the new season.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Luke Cage: Season 1!
Luke Cage: Harlem’s Hero
The poster for Season 2 features Mike Colter’s Luke Cage literally holding Harlem on his burly shoulders, which should offer some indication of the struggles our hero will be going through this time around. In Season 1, Luke was a fugitive, just trying to keep his head down, survive and not be dragged into the battle for Harlem’s soul. This time around, he’s a beloved local celebrity and social media star. Luke is helping to defend and inspire his community, but inevitably he runs into newer, bigger threats that test even his bulletproof skin.
Season 2 will force Luke to come to terms with the idea that he can’t protect everyone, even with his incredible powers. He’ll even come to learn that he isn’t the strongest superhuman in Harlem.
The Rise of Misty Knight
For many fans, Simone Messick’s Misty Knight was the true breakout character of Season 1. Fortunately, despite the serious serious injury she sustained in The Defenders: Season 1, Misty will be back in action for Season 2.
The new season will bring Misty closer in line with her comic book counterpart as she breaks in her new cybernetic arm. Misty’s new arm doesn’t just replace her old one, but it also grants her super-strength to match her defiant, fearless personality. Based on the trailers for the new season, it seems that Misty sees herself as the true defender of Harlem, with Luke merely her sidekick. We’re not going to argue.
New and Old Villains
Fans can expect a mixture of new and old faces when it comes to the villains in Season 2. Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) will return as she settles into her role as the new reigning crime lord of Harlem (an honor that came at the expense of her cousin, Cornell Stokes, in Season 1). Mariah will be working to consolidate her power in Season 2, knowing full well that she only avoided prison because she was able to murder a key witness. No doubt Luke and Misty will be keen to resume their quest to bring down Mariah’s empire.
Hernan “Shades” Alvarez (Theo Rossi) will also be back. Shades joined forces with Mariah and betrayed Diamondback in order to save his own skin. He may be loyal to Mariah for now, but don’t be surprised if that changes over the course of the season.
Season 2 will also introduce a major new villain in the form of Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir). Thanks to potentially supernatural means, this villain has the power to hurt Luke with his bare hands, and wastes little time showing Harlem that its new hero is still very vulnerable.
The Supporting Cast
Look for several familiar faces from Netflix’s Marvel Universe to appear in Season 2. Neither Luke nor the rest of the Defenders would get very far without the assistance of nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). Claire will return this season, helping to patch Luke up after his bloody encounter with Bushmaster. More importantly, the new season will explore whether there’s any potential for a lasting romantic relationship between the two. However, based on Dawson’s recent comments, this could be the last we see of Claire in Netflix’s Marvel shows.
Also look for Danny Rand (Finn Jones) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) to stop by. Luke and Danny have a long partnership in the comics, and this season may pave the way for more team-ups between the two. Similarly, the new season could wind up introducing Misty and Colleen’s super-team from the comics, the Daughters of the Dragon.
Also returning this season are Luke’s helpful ally Bobby Fish (Ron Cephas Jones) and his estranged father James Lucas (Reg E. Cathey).
The biggest X-factor in Season 2 is local doctor Tilda Johnson (Gabrielle Dennis), who joins the show in Season 2. In the comics, Johnson becomes a costumed villain known as Nightshade, but it’s unclear whether she’ll be friend or foe to Luke in this series.
The MCU Timeline
One of the big questions surrounding pretty much every MCU project for the next year is where each takes place in relation to Avengers: Infinity War. That movie ended with Thanos snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all life in the universe, including many beloved superheroes.
Marvel hasn’t really specified where Luke Cage: Season 2 falls in the larger MCU timeline. That said, It’s a safe bet that, like the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp, the show is set before the events of Infinity War. The various Netflix shows don’t mingle with the MCU movies all that often, but they do regularly reference the Battle of New York from the first Avengers. The trailer gives no indication that Harlem is mourning the loss of 50% of its population, and that seems like a hard thing to gloss over.