Simone Missick, of Marvel’s Luke Cage, discusses the big changes headed Misty Knight’s way in season 2, her character’s relationship with the bulletproof hero for hire, and whether or not a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff is something she’d be interested in. With the second season now streaming, fans can find out how Misty recovers from the injury she suffered at the end of The Defenders miniseries, and how she acquires her signature robotic arm. More than that, however, the new season offers a closer look at what motivates the embattled detective, and how, as Missick states, she finds a way to turn pain into power.
It’s a season of change for Misty, one that not only finds her establishing a new kind of identity for herself, but also one that sees her forming a powerful new relationship with someone who understands what she’s going through. Missick is quick to acknowledge that the brief glimpse of Misty and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) fighting side-by-side will likely spur fans’ hunger for a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff, while also acknowledging how a series focused on just those two women could be considered “necessary.” Time will tell if Netflix is interested in such a thing, but if and when it is, Missick will be ready.
Read our full interview with Simone Missick discussing Luke Cage season 2 below:
Misty Knight plays an important role in this season and given her relationship and experiences with Luke seems more directly tied to the overall narrative. Tell me a little bit about how you see the way Misty fits into the season’s story and especially the themes it’s exploring.
"This season is all about identity. I think that we really learn who people are and we also explore people taking pain and turning it into power. I feel that Misty is right in the middle of that. When we see her at the beginning of the season she is at a very low place. She lost her arm. She walked away from the force and she does not necessarily know who she is any more in the world, without having that badge. And it's not until she starts to accept that she is more than her physical body and that she can't just sit around and cry about it that she is able to get back to herself. Once she gets her prosthetic it's a whole other set of issues and figuring it out, but I think that theme of identity of who are you is important and it is one as told to Misty, in the eyes of being a black woman, of a being a black woman in a position of power in a typically male-dominated profession, one where an air of bravado literally could mean life or death for you. To have that vulnerability is something that you don't often see on screen. But then also, the idea and the themes of taking pain and turning it into power.
We see with Mariah Dillard what it's like to be a person who's victimized and then to take that and use it in order to empower yourself. The same with the character Bushmaster. To be a person whose family was ripped away from him and murdered, to take that anger and pain and turn it into a superpower in order to get revenge on the people who've wronged you. And the same is true of Misty; taking the pain of losing her confidence in herself and losing her confidence in the legal system and its ability to get justice for people who've been victimized. She loses a lot of her ideals. But to take that pain, physically and emotionally and morally, and turn that into power is something beautiful to watch."
Misty tends to question authority of all kinds. Is that what makes her good at her job and facilitates her professional rise throughout the season?
"I think it is. No one person or entity is perfect. You have to call out injustice wherever it lies and Misty is very unwilling to allow for the status quo when it comes to protecting the people of Harlem, and when it comes to getting them justice. I think that her resistance to just following the rules is what makes her exciting. It's what makes people root for her because how often do you watch characters and you think 'Would you just do what I would do in that situation?' Why are you doing what they want you to do in that situation? You know that person is dirty, just go plant the evidence. You know this person needs to be arrested. Who cares if you have a warrant; they're committing a crime.' And so, it did bring her a lot of trouble but ultimately it's something that we can all identify with; it's a human trait to see injustice and to see people being wronged and to speak out. I think that is what endears Misty to the fans a lot of the time."
What’s different about her relationship with Luke? It seems Misty is much more in Luke’s corner now, even if it means being at odds with others in the police department.
"In the first season, I think it was very difficult for Misty to see who Luke really was because he wasn't transparent. He wasn't able to really share who he was or what his abilities were with her or with the world at that point. It made their relationship very contentious. Neither one of them trusted the other for who they were and once they got through life and death circumstances on more than one occasion -- Luke saved Misty's life -- it created a bond that no badge can separate. I think Misty recognizes what an ally Luke is, she recognizes there are things he can do that just having a gun and a badge can't do. And she would rather work side by side with him than be on the opposite side any day. That comes from really having a true friendship, and so I think that what becomes exciting to see is that Misty is now the go-between for Luke and law enforcement. She isn't going to let them put him in a box and she's also going to empower him in order to help her get the justice they need."
Can you tell me a little bit about working with Jessica Henwick and the terrific fight sequence you two have together?
"Jessica is an amazing actor. She is a phenomenal physical actor as well. She's great when it comes to picking up stunt choreography. She's hard working, she's smart, she asks all the right questions. She and I are very similar in that way on set. But to know that we were finally giving fans what they wanted when it comes to the Daughters of the Dragon was so exciting. Knowing that I was the first version of Misty Knight, a character that was created 40 years ago is one thing. But now knowing that I can get to a place where we are giving the fans the Daughters of the Dragon that they have been waiting for for decades is even more exciting. That fight, it took a lot of work. It was a lot of hours in the dojo figuring out how to fight with one arm literally tied behind my back. But what was great about it... you look at that fight sequence and I'm probably in 90-95 percent of it. To be able to go in and train hard and get that kind of result, it felt amazing."
What is it like doing a scene with that kind of specialized choreography? Given your history as an athlete and playing varsity basketball, is that athleticism something you draw on while doing these more physically demanding moments?
"Absolutely. What's interesting is I asked Jessica one day how she so easily does the fights. I thought she had been fighting for years she said, 'No, actually, I was a dancer for a really long time, so picking up choreography is easier.' I thought, 'Ah! That's what it is.' Because being a basketball player or a football player is nothing like being a fighter. Being a skilled martial artist takes a lot of focus, and you know the athleticism helps because you just naturally look more believable when you're pulling off these moves. A pivot in basketball is similar to a pivot in a fight sequence but it's a completely different animal, so it was great picking up a new skill. I certainly credit being athletic with my endurance and training but it was something completely different and new to learn."
There’s a great chemistry between Misty and Colleen, which means fans are probably going to push Netflix and Marvel for a Daughters of the Dragon series. Is that something you’d be interested in exploring yourself?
"Absolutely. Any opportunity to show two strong women on screen I welcome. And to bring this character to a new storyline that centers on the gaze of women is important. I think the success of Jessica Jones and the conversation and the dialogue that it created around women's issues was perhaps something the Marvel Universe didn't anticipate when they were looking to create that show. So the possibility of having two women of color on screen who are fighting for their communities and for justice and fighting alongside one another and not being adversaries or competing for the attention or affection of a man is a great thing to see. It's something I truly anticipate and hope that it is something that does come to pass because these characters are just so interesting to watch. Both of them have issues with trust and with identity and with -- having what you thought was true and good, having that taken away from them. We see that these are two women who are both struggling with identity, Colleen just killed her mentor Bakudo and Bakudo chopped off Misty's arm. These are two women who are struggling with who they are. Seeing that play out over a season or a series would be really excellent and necessary."
One of the biggest elements of the new season is that Misty gets her new robotic arm. Tell me about the process of making that happen. Is there a lot of post-production work involved in making that look realistic or is it primarily a practical effect?
"It's such an interesting physical thing to have to work out on set of having this other appendage, but as painful as it was at times I knew that was something that had to be honored from the source material and that it was something the fans were going to enjoy seeing. And like everything within the Marvel Universe, it's ever-evolving. I'm excited for fans to see the arm. I'm excited to see the arm, to be quite honest. I haven't seen a single episode, so I can't honestly say what and how they jazzed it up. I was only told that they didn't really jazz it up but it will be an exciting thing to see."
Marvel's Luke Cage season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.