And then there were two. Just days after giving the chop to Iron Fist, Netflix has also axed Luke Cage, cutting its small-screen Marvel universe in half.
“Unfortunately, Marvel’s Luke Cage will not return for a third season,” Marvel and Netflix told Deadline. “Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem’s Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series.”
The timing here is both odd and interesting on several levels. For one, pretty much everyone thought a third season of Luke Cage—which starred Mike Colter as the bulletproof title character—was all but guaranteed, with Colter remaining under contract and a writers room under showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker having already been assembled. It’s also worth noting that Netflix announced Luke Cage’s cancellation on the same day of Daredevil‘s stellar third season premiere, which is bringing in the most positive buzz the Defenders universe has enjoyed in years.
But you almost have to note that Disney is on the cusp of debuting its own streaming service, which we already know will feature stand-alone series starring MCU characters like Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki and Elizabeth Olsen‘s Scarlet Witch. Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos recently said the Defenders series are completely Netflix’s to cancel and that the streaming network is “super happy with their performance so far.” But then poof, there goes Luke Cage a day later, and you have to wonder how much influence Disney’s competing streaming service has on that decision.
It’s a shame, because Luke Cage had nothing but promise. It’s pretty much a universal opinion that Colter—with his easy charisma, bulked up body, and gloriously shiny bald head—was a Luke ripped straight from a comic book page. And the series’ storytelling issues almost always came down to the classic Netflix bloat; both Luke Cage seasons were a highly intriguing 6-8 episode story stretched into 13 chapters, resulting in scenes largely running about four minutes too long every time. (Plus, season one quite literally threw its most interesting character out a window halfway through.)
But alas, even Harlem’s bulletproof hero couldn’t stand up to the might of The Mouse. If these recent cancellations result in, say, a Heroes for Hire series plus a Daughters of the Dragon story at some point, consider me back on board. Misty Knight’s badass robot arm and Colleen Wing brandishing a chi-sword are two terrible things to let go to waste.