I have a confession to make. Remember my 5-star review of Luke Cage‘s first four episodes? I still stand by that. But I don’t stand by that rating for the entire season. Luke Cage fell into the Marvel-Netflix trap of having far too many episodes, with a story that slowed down to an unbelievably glacial pace as it marched towards its sixth and seventh episodes (a gruelling, slow march). Maybe it was the lack of Jessica Jones, or how Luke Cage felt totally unconnected to the rest of Netflix’s Marvel Universe (despite the advent of the Claire Temple), or how a good villain with a complicated story like Cottonmouth got turned into … whatever the hell Diamondback was about.
There were a lot of things Luke Cage did well — Mike Colter‘s casting continues to be the character’s biggest boon, and the way the show really leaned into its Harlem setting and made this very specifically a show about black superhero was very different and very good. But the reality is that nobody likes a mopey superhero, I don’t care what current movies try to force on us. Luke Cage as a “hero for hire” that has to decide to fight for people for good rather than for pay is a much more interesting story than a guy who just wants to be left alone, and slowly (so, so very slowly) gets pulled into the idea of doing more. So slowly.
Netflix dropped the news of Luke Cage‘s renewal on a Sunday afternoon during the holiday season, when almost no one is online. Were they hiding the fact that there would be no fervor over this? Or was it to elicit a “Sweet Christmas!” The renewal was inevitable — Netflix and Marvel are banking on this partnership for the long-haul — but by the time Luke Cage Season 2 rolls around (which will be a long time, one guesses), maybe it’ll be more interesting. In the comics, Luke is best friends with Iron Fist and romantically involved with Jessica Jones. I understand why Netflix is giving each show its own origin, but they aren’t all dropping at once. It’s taking a long, long time, and some crossover would be appreciated. Look at how, on the DC side, Arrow launched Flash which in turned helped launch Legends, with Flash also acting as a bridge to Supergirl even when they were on different networks. You don’t have to have these characters around for all 13 episodes of another hero’s season, but ignoring the fact that they all live in the same city (and most of them in the same borough) is getting ridiculous.
What this all seems to suggest is that The Defenders‘ season will be all about getting the team together, a la The Avengers. Netflix has all the time in the world to let these stories play out, but viewer patience is finite. Let’s hope by the time Luke Cage Season 2 does get here, some of these issues will be fixed.
For a complete list of the renewals and cancellations of over 150 scripted series, check out our TV Lifeline.