Since we last saw Harlem’s hero, Luke Cage, we have met an Iron Fist and some other defenders of the city. There’s a litany of other details that, if you missed, will leave you scratching your head when Netflix drops the second season on June 22. So if you’re a virgin to Harlem, or just want a quick refresher and don’t have the time to binge season 1, here are some facts you need to know to bridge the new season with the last.
Origins of a Hero
After escaping prison, Luke Cage looks to hide in plain sight in Harlem by keeping a low profile. He works as a dishwasher at Harlem’s Paradise and a sweeper at Pop’s Barbershop. After a gun deal gone bad between Cottonmouth Stokes and a buyer, Pops, who knows Luke’s secret and powers, asks him to find barbershop regular Chico and bring him back to protect him. Luke succeeds in bringing him in but gets the attention of Cottonmouth’s henchman Tone. Tone shoots up the barbershop injuring Chico and killing Pops, setting off a confrontation between Luke and Cottonmouth’s criminal organization.
While Harlem has a lot of movers and shakers, and one family is vying for control. The Stokes have a legacy of criminal ties and a hand in Harlem’s underworld thanks to Mobster Mama Mabel.
How’d You Get Your Skin Like That?
Luke Cage’s real name is Carl Lucas, and he was once a police officer. He was framed for a crime and incarcerated in Seagate Prison where he was forced to take part in an illegal fight ring run by the prison C.O. Here he also meets Reva – if you watched Jessica Jones you know she is the woman Luke loved who Jessica killed when she was under the control of Kilgrave. Reva would work with Carl to expose the fighting ring, but when the C.O. found out, he had Lucas beaten. To save his life, Reva goes to Dr. Burstein who is performing voluntary experiments on inmates for help. While under treatment the C.O. finds out and sabotages the equipment causing the accident that gives Lucas his abilities and allows him to escape.
No One Hates Like Family
Family squabbles color the background in Luke Cage. After failing multiple times to stop Cage, Cottonmouth and Mariah get into a heated conversation when she is removed from office amidst ties to Cottonmouth. He crosses the line insinuating she enjoyed the sexual abuse of an uncle when she was younger. Mariah, enraged, kills Cottonmouth and his opportunistic henchman Shades helps her clean it up and frame Cage. We also find out Diamondback is named Stryker and is Luke Cage’s brother. The same Stryker who shot Luke Cage with a Judas bullet, got a power suit to fight him, set him up and got him sent to prison.
The Tie That Binds
Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) who has played a role in the majority of Netflix’s Marvel universe, has a more prominent spot in the life of Luke Cage. She already helped Daredevil and popped up in Jessica Jones, and now she again gets pulled into helping another super-powered being, eventually becoming romantically involved with him.
While Cage might be Harlem’s Hero, Harlem’s Knight is hometown hero Misty Knight. A former basketball player and daughter of a police officer, Misty is a street-smart, tough as nails cop. She originally gets romantically involved with Cage but they soon end up on opposite sides of the law as his vigilante efforts cause problems for the force and his name keeps popping up in investigations. Eventually, they become friends, and she risks her career helping him clear his name.
Everybody Pays The Piper
Carl Lucas was an inmate at Seagate who became Luke Cage and a fugitive in Harlem. There he became a hero and cleared his name of murder but ultimately surrendered to the police and went back to Seagate to do his time while clearing himself of the crime he was falsely accused of as Lucas.
Enter The Iron Fist
Easily the worst of the Marvel TV endeavors, Danny Rand is the son of a wealthy family who lost his family in a plane crash. The lone survivor, Danny is saved and raised in a martial arts monastery and is chosen to be the Iron Fist, the name of the legendary warrior who is able to channel their chi into their fist, making it more powerful. Danny returns to New York and finds his family business being run by the children of his family friend Harold Ward. Ward is aligned with The Hand, a sinister group playing puppeteer to world powers and the sworn enemy of the clan that raised Danny. With the help of Colleen Wing, a martial arts instructor who has been training Claire Temple and unknowingly a student of The Hand, he eventually wrests power from the Rands and removes The Hand from Rand Enterprises. Realizing that destiny has sent him back to the States to fight, Danny takes off with Colleen on a mission to hunt down the rest of The Hand.
Cage Beats Fist
Luke Cage is released from prison with the help of Claire Temple’s friend Foggy Nelson, formerly of Nelson and Murdock. Shortly after his return to Harlem, Luke is visited by Misty Knight who fills him in on what’s been going on in Harlem, including a series of suspicious deaths involving young Black men. Luke’s decision to get involved leads him to a wrong place wrong time run-in with Danny Rand, The Iron Fist to whoever will listen. After Colleen nurses Danny’s wounds, Claire overhears the story about the man Danny fought and decides to introduce them. This leads to an awkward conversation that ends as badly as their first encounter.
Meet You At The Top
They are drawn by different reasons: Jessica Jones investigating a case about an architect who went missing and gets killed by the assassin Elektra, Matt Murdock following Jones, Danny trying to clean out The Hand, and Luke following Danny after finding a connection. But all parties converge on Midland Circle and help Danny fight.
Defending Home Turf
After escaping Midland Circle, the team takes shelter in a restaurant. There they are met by Stick, Matt Murdock’s teacher and a member of the Chaste, the army of the Iron Fist which has been all but eliminated by The Hand. Alexandra, the leader of The Hand, appears to them and asks them to surrender The Iron Fist. In return, she will spare New York. They all deny her proposal and end up fighting forces of The Hand including The Black Sky – the reincarnated Elektra. Seeing the danger New York is in the group agrees reluctantly to join forces and stash Danny away until they clear things up. Elektra finds them, kills Stick and takes Danny. When the rest of the team awakens, they are all in a police precinct with their friends and loved ones in protective custody. Jessica, Matt, and Luke sneak out to go find Danny. Colleen, who feels guilty for having Danny fall in the wrong hands, finds the plans to the building and sneaks out of the station to save him. She wants to continue the plan of the architect to bring down Midland Circle and whatever The Hand is after underground. After a brutal battle, Misty loses an arm defending Colleen and Claire, Luke and Jessica save Danny, and Matthew and Elektra— as well as the remaining members of The Hand— are presumed dead.
What happens next? Tune into the second season of Luke Cage on Netflix, premiering June 22.