Luke Cage will be the third of Marvel's Netflix properties to air, with the fourth, Iron Fist, on the way in 2017. From the very beginning there was talk of all four series eventually leading a massive team-up as they come together in The Defenders. So far all we've seen of The Defenders is a cryptic teaser Marvel released during Comic-Con. In the comics, The Defenders were brought together by Dr. Strange, and the group has undergone several iterations and restarts with heroes from across the Marvel spectrum.
In order to differentiate themselves from more popular hero groups like The Avengers or the Fantastic Four, The Defenders was a team of interchangeable members that were selected based on their ability to deal with the mission at hand. Heroes for Hire, on the other hand, was originally a major aspect of the first Luke Cage books. Cage operated as a one man A-Team until he and Iron Fist teamed up.
When showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker spoke to Decider about the possibility of a Heroes for Hire team up in the first season, he quickly nixed the idea. "Now in my mind — we don’t go into Heroes for Hire in season 1 of Luke Cage — Luke Cage season 1 is ultimately about the evolution of a hero." Coker then teasesd that Heroes for Hire isn't completely off the table, but a lot of things have to happen before season 2 planning begins. He said:
"In terms of Luke Cage, Netflix has to order a second season first... We’re not treating [the show] as a one-off, and I’m confident people will dig the show, but, trust me, like season 2, I’ve got a few ideas. But we really won’t get ready until Netflix sees the viewership, and hopefully the subscriptions that will come from this show, and then they’ll say, 'Let’s get into it.'"
Heroes for Hire seems the likeliest connection for the Netflix shows and the Marvel films to truly intersect. The most recent relaunch of Heroes for Hire came in 2010, and that group has the most recognizable names from the Netflix properties, but also includes MCU characters like Black Widow and Falcon, and newly minted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. character, Ghost Rider.
It makes sense that Heroes for Hire wouldn't be on the table until Iron Fist/Danny Rand has been introduced. An updated version of the comic Power Man and Iron Fist was released earlier this year as a limited series run, serving as both a refresher for old fans and an intro for new readers. If the Netflix relationship between Luke Cake and Danny Rand is anything like what fans know from the books, a Heroes for Hire story arc in the second season of Luke Cage could be a lot of fun to watch.
Daredevil season 1 & 2 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Luke Cage season 1 will arrive on September 30th, 2016. The Defenders and Iron Fist arrive in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, The Punisher and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.