Unless you share Luke Cage's invulnerability for spoilers, bookmark this page and return after you've binged every single episode in one glorious sitting. If the reviews are anything to go by, you won't regret it!
Remember how exciting it was when Spider-Man was first mentioned in Ant-Man, or when Loki briefly became Captain America in Thor: The Dark World? Marvel's always prided itself on the ways that each of its live action adaptations connect within one cohesive world, sharing links throughout each of its various movies and TV shows.
Understandably then, fans are eager to see how Marvel's latest venture connects with the other two Netflix shows, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, as well as the MCU at large. While viewers may be disappointed to discover that the Avengers don't appear for a cheeky recruitment sesh in Luke Cage's first season, each of the 13 episodes contain a number of links which firmly establish the hero for hire within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. This Isn't The First Time Harlem's Appeared In The MCU
Much has been made of how Luke Cage is set almost entirely in Harlem, an area of New York City that's inextricably tied with the hero for hire. However, eagle-eyed fans may have realised that this isn't the first time Cage's home has first appeared in the MCU.
As far back as 2008, the location of Harlem was used for the final showdown in The Incredible Hulk, where Bruce Banner fought the Abomination to a standstill outside of the Apollo Theater. While it's unlikely that Netflix had even begun thinking about developing a Luke Cage show at that point, I like to imagine Power Man chilling at home with Pops when he suddenly hears all of the ruckus outside, long before he gained the powers that could have helped him make a difference in the fight.
2. 'The Incident'
Four years later and the final showdown in Marvel's first team up movie, Avengers Assemble, is still having ramifications in the MCU. Now referred to as 'The Incident', the Avengers' shining moment is still remembered by New Yorkers keen to make a quick buck, one of whom is shown selling pirated footage of the battle in Episode 1, which stars;
"...Tony Stark, the big blonde dude with the hammer, the old dude with the shield, the green monster and I don't mean Fenway."
Don't let them hear you say that!
3. Kingpin's Presence Is Felt
As the main criminal element of Harlem, it's unsurprising that the villainous Cottonmouth has connections with mob bosses from other parts of New York City — which is why Daredevil's Kingpin is mentioned quickly once talk turns to business in Episode 1. Understandably, Wilson Fisks's incarceration at the hands of Daredevil has left his peers feeling rather jumpy.
Watch out also for Kinpin's lawyer from Daredevil, Ben Donovan, who reappears in Episode 7 of Luke Cage.
4. Justin Hammer
Tony Stark's rival Justin Hammer may now be in prison after the events of Iron Man 2, but it appears that his criminal endeavours live on in the MCU. Halfway through Episode 1, Cottonmouth reveals that he's bought a huge number of military weapons from Hammer Tech to sell on for more money. Does this mean that Hammer has been released from prison, or his company is simply continuing in his absence?
In Episode 4, the company is referred to by name once again as we discover that they've developed a special 'Judas bullet' in the Ukraine. The bullet is made from some kind of alien metal, presumably obtained during 'The Incident'.
5. Cage's Wife Will Not Be Forgotten
All heroes need some kind of tragedy, and Cage's comes in the form of Reva Connors, his deceased wife who was killed by Jessica Jones while under the mental influence of Kilgrave. Throughout the show, mentions are made of her passing and the effect that this had on Cage, all in references to the flashbacks contained in Season 1 of Jessica Jones.
Luke Cage's show goes one step further though, introducing Reva Connors in a number of scenes when the action flips back to Seagate Prison in Episode 4, before her untimely death.
6. Where's Daredevil?
Daredevil is conspicuously absent in the early episodes of Luke Cage, but this makes sense, as Marvel are keen to give the hero for hire his own chance at the spotlight. However, as early as Episode 1, one particular phrase pops up that's undoubtedly a reference to one of Cage's future teammates in the upcoming Defenders crossover;
Watch this space, guys. I mean, Matt Murdock can't, so someone has to.
7. Turk Returns
Speaking of Daredevil, one of his former enemies appears early on in Episode 2 of Luke Cage. Arms dealer Turk Barrett played an important role in both seasons of Daredevil, working with the Kingpin before Murdock brought him to justice. The last we saw of Turk before his return on Luke Cage was when Daredevil and Karen rescued him and others from the Hand.
- Marvel's Netflix Trailer Reveals That The Defenders Are So Dysfunctional That They Can't Even Save Themselves
- Which Marvel-ous Comic Book Storylines Will We See When 'Daredevil' Season 3 And 'Jessica Jones' Season 2 Hit Netflix In 2018?
- Luke Out! The Reviews For Marvel's 'Luke Cage' Show Are In And They're Bulletproof
8. Where's Jessica Jones?
Despite the complexity of Cage's relationship with Jessica Jones, Marvel has understandably sidelined her character in Luke's solo venture, so he develops his own identity separate from the private investigator. Fortunately though, their shared history hasn't been swept under the rug, as the events of Jessica Jones and Cage's relationship with her are referred to regularly throughout.
One of the most notable mentions occurs early on, when Cage and Pops discuss the time that Jones shot him in the head to wrestle him away from Kilgrave's control. While Luke is basically invulnerable, the hero for hire is still able to feel pain, mentioning here how he still suffers from headaches occasionally in the aftermath of his injury.
Episode 6 also opens with an episode of the call-in radio show, 'Trish Talk', which involves Jessica's best friend Trish Walker discussing Luke Cage.
9. Claire Temple's Appearance Reveals The Timeline Of Luke Cage
Rosario Dawson's nurse, Claire Temple, has become the glue that binds each Marvel Netflix show together. After all, each one of these heroes gets battered during their street fights at some stage, and medical care doesn't come cheap in the US.
One thing that's particularly interesting about Temple's role in Luke Cage is how it reveals the show's timeline in relation to the other Netflix shows, and even explains an injury we first saw on Daredevil.
In an interview reported by CBR, Daredevil himself, Charlie Cox, revealed the subtle link:
“One thing that I thought was really cool is that in the second season [of ‘Daredevil’], we had a scene together and in the storyline we hadn’t seen each other for a long time and it takes place at the hospital. Roasario had — Claire Temple has a cut in her eyebrow. So I was like, ‘What is that?’ Apparently it had nothing to do with our world but it’s part of ‘Luke Cage.’ The timeline had been thought through and worked out so that whatever’s going on in ‘Luke Cage,’ which we don’t know, I don’t know, somehow at some point during that show, the next day she’s in the hospital talking to me.”
10. Stan Lee Cameo
As inevitable as the rising sun, Stan Lee pops up once again in a cameo role for Luke Cage, despite having zero input in the character's creation. Instead, Power Man was first conceived by Archie Goodwin and John Romita, Sr back in 1972. But as per tradition, Stan the Man still makes an appearance, linking Luke Cage with the rest of his cameos in the MCU.
While some of Stan's more recent roles have involved speaking parts, Lee's most recent appearance in Luke Cage is reduced to just a poster image, as can be seen in the image above. Good thing we have Stan the Man looking out for the streets of Harlem. Cage can't be everywhere at once, after all.
Check out Stan's appearance in this awesome Luke Cage trailer, around the 2:04 mark:
While there are those who may complain that the Netflix shows feel like they're still separate from the rest of the MCU, it's clear from this list alone that the likes of Luke Cage are far more connected than they may first appear. I for one am happy that we don't randomly see Spider-Man swing by while our hero walks down the street. Luke Cage needs to stand on its own as a viable show before the four Defenders unite in 2017 and Sweet Christmas, it does exactly that.
Do you think Luke Cage is Marvel's best Netflix show yet?
Source - CBR