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Luke Cage (Mike Colter) may have been carted back to Seagate Prison at the end of his stand-alone series, but don’t worry — he won’t be there for long. “It’s safe to say Cage is not going to spend the entire season of The Defenders behind bars,” Colter says, laughing. “He’s been able to come clean and deal with his past… The difficulty with Cage [in the first season] is that he has this secret, he has this thing that he’s been trying to run away from and deal with, and that’s a big burden to bear. That weighs on you, that changes who you are as a person. Now that that’s out of the way, I think we can give him a different approach to life.”
And so, by the time the Defenders unite, Luke will be acting as “the conciliator” for the group. “I’m the guy, the wisdom,” Colter says. “If you want to make sure something works, run it up the flagpole.” It’s a description showrunner Marco Ramirez finds fitting. “Luke is someone who’s, in a very mature way, compartmentalized his life.”
As the mature one, Luke will have a mentor-mentee relationship with Finn Jones’ Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, a.k.a. the newest member of the Defenders lineup. “He’s a young guy. There’s an exuberance that Iron Fist comes with that Luke Cage wants to temper a bit,” Colter teases. “It can’t help but have a wisdom-versus-youth quality… Danny comes out like a bull in a china shop in some ways, and I think Luke has seen the world and knows certain things. It’s a cool combination that’ll work out.”
For fans who are looking for a direct small-screen take on the pages of Heroes for Hire — the comic book title that united Luke and Danny as a crime-fighting duo — they’ll be able to see some of that dynamic, but not exactly what’s been developed in the comics, Colter says: “We definitely want to pay homage to the fanboys, but we want to make it make sense in this time period.”
More importantly, viewers shouldn’t forget that Luke, of all the Defenders, is the one whose identity as a super-powered human has been revealed to the public. “He’s openly walking around as a hero,” Ramirez cautions. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that.” Maybe even enough pressure to get under his unbreakable skin?
Marvel’s The Defenders arrives on Netflix summer 2017.