It’s a tale as old as time: The good guy fights tirelessly against the corrupt power structure that’s gripped his once-great home, but as he cuts a path into ever-higher ranks of darkness, he unwittingly grows darker himself.
That’s the situation Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker left things for our Harlem hero by the end of his second Netflix season, setting up the potential for a very complicated (read: fascinating) Season 3, should the streaming giant decide to bring the Marvel show back for another batch of binge-able episodes. (Check out our interview with Coker about the show's politics right here.)
“[O]ne of the reasons that we did what we did was, if this is the last Luke Cage, we’re leaving in a very interesting place. If we get to move on beyond this, it also leads us into an interesting, unpredictable place,” Coker, who also recently chatted with SYFY WIRE for an in-depth look at bringing the show to life, explained to CBR.
Armed with the idealistic conviction that the only way to fix Harlem’s criminal underworld is to become a key player in its power structure, Cage (Mike Colter) inherits the Harlem’s Paradise nightclub from Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), the crooked (and now deceased) club owner he helped put behind bars. “I can watch from above, like a hawk,” Cage justifies from atop his new, club-surveying perch.
But as the Season 2 finale intriguingly suggests, Cage may be falling into the same trap as so many who’ve come before: betting that he can maintain the integrity of his own ideals even as he goes farther and farther into the belly of the beast.
“You’ve got these mirrors to gangster politics, you’ve got these mirrors to presidential politics, because people always think that if they have the juice, if they’re in power, they can do things differently, and they begin to realize that all systems, in their own way, corrupt the people at the top of those systems,” Coker said. “And so what it does is, the power defines who you really are, and it brings out both impulses, so I don’t care if it’s the perch at Harlem’s Paradise, I don’t care if it’s ruling the galaxy in Star Wars, I don’t care if it’s the presidency, that kind of power can corrupt you awfully, in really bad ways, if you’re not prepared for it.”
Even though Coker suggests that the Season 2 finale, if necessary, would make for a fine series finale, it’s clear the creative team has plenty of character-developing fuel left in the tank for a third season. If Luke Cage does return, we expect tons of temptation, and for Luke to cross more than a few red lines into morally dubious territory.
With Season 2 still super-fresh (it’s been available since June 22), Netflix hasn’t yet revealed its plans for the series, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, be sure to catch up with SYFY WIRE’s own interview with Coker exploring the cultural beats that inform Luke Cage’s aesthetic, as well as loads of cool behind-the-scenes insights into the show’s development process.