What would have happened in the now-cancelled third seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist? October has been a difficult month for fans of the popular Marvel Netflix shows. On the one hand, the eagerly-anticipated Daredevil season 3 has finally released, to popular and critical acclaim. Unfortunately, this was against the backdrop of two major cancellations, with Netflix bringing both Iron Fist and Luke Cage to an end after two seasons.
The reasons for the cancellations are believed to have been slightly different. In the case of Iron Fist, it's generally believed that the show never recovered from a critically-panned first season, in spite of the best efforts of new showrunner Raven Metzner. In contrast, there have been reports that talks on Luke Cage season 3 went to the wire, with reports of "creative differences" between Marvel and Netflix. The streaming service apparently wasn't comfortable with the direction Marvel intended to take the series, and they wanted a shorter 10-episode series than Marvel was prepared to make.
It's possible that Luke Cage and Iron Fist will be replaced by team-up shows like Daughters of the Dragon and Heroes for Hire. By now, though, it's quite clear that this wasn't the original plan. Key members of the cast, and even the two showrunners, have taken to social media to thank their fans for following them, and there's a definite sense of sorrow to their comments. Daredevil showrunner Erik Oleson, a close friend of Metzner's, gave a sense of just how difficult a time it's been for the Marvel teams. "The Marvel shows are a family," he explained. "I took Raven out for drinks on Saturday night and we commiserated. It was heartbreaking news."
So what were Marvel's plans for Luke Cage and Iron Fist seasons 3? This article will look at the ideas set up in the shows, and the (sparse) comic book precedents, and attempt to deduce what was going to happen.
- This Page: What Would Have Happened In Luke Cage Season 3?
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What Would Have Happened In Luke Cage Season 3?
Luke Cage season 2 ended with a whole new status quo for Harlem's Hero. He'd inherited Harlem's Paradise, and had concluded he could do more good for his neighborhood as a crime boss who was attempting to keep the peace. It's an approach Luke has never taken in the comics, which makes it pretty difficult to guess where showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker was planning to take the series. The only solid hint has been given by Mike Colter, who described something of a "fall from grace" arc:
"I think the plan for season 3 is to explore Luke's ability to govern and be fair. At the end, we talk about there being a new sheriff in town, a new king in Harlem. We're going to see how he deals with this power, because we know absolute power can corrupt absolutely. And sometimes when you don't have someone checking you, someone to put you in place, someone to tell you 'you can't do that,' we sometimes get out of control. We see that everywhere."
Part of this involves the fact that Luke's old friendships and relationships are breaking down. Although Rosario Dawson was willing to reprise the role of Claire Temple, Luke's lover and moral conscience, she stressed that it may not be possible due to personal commitments. "My daughter is in high school," Dawson pointed out, "so I kinda wanna not be 3,000 miles away for work." Meanwhile, Luke's new role as a crime boss will inevitably cause conflict with Misty Knight, who's been offered a promotion and would be in charge of bringing an end to Luke's burgeoning criminal empire. Season 2 ended with Luke alone in his office, signifying that he'd lost everyone and everything that could keep him on the straight and narrow.
Dialogue in Iron Fist season 2 strongly suggested that Misty would call in her friend Colleen Wing to help against Luke. Colleen has become New York's new Iron Fist, and she could well be the key to stopping Luke. After all, as Misty noted, Colleen now has "one of the few weapons that might make a dent in that man." A flash-forward scene at the end of Iron Fist season 2 suggested that Colleen will learn how to channel her Chi through other weapons, most notably her katana, and that's an absolute game-changer. The Defenders already confirmed that a punch thrown with the power of the Iron Fist can knock Luke Cage down; that means, in theory, that Colleen's sword can be used to cut him too. Making matters worse, Luke wouldn't necessarily find out that Colleen was a threat to him until she was ready to take him on. It's important not to overemphasize Colleen's importance to the plot, though; Marvel would have been hoping she'd be needed for both Luke Cage and Iron Fist seasons 3, so scheduling alone would have meant she had a limited role in Luke Cage.
The arc sounds vaguely similar to that of the Shadowland event, a comic book miniseries that saw Daredevil make the same kind of mistakes Luke is guaranteed to make. At the same time, though, it's likely the resolution would have been slightly different; rather than seeing Luke beaten by his friends, it would have probably involved him realizing what he was becoming, presumably after making a big mistake. There would be a certain poetry if Luke Cage season 3 were to end with Harlem's "bulletproof black guy" going back to jail, but this time for crimes he really did commit.