While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is most closely associated with its critically acclaimed blockbusters, there's also a ton of content being produced for the small screen. The majority of the MCU's TV programming comes out of Netflix, with five respective heroes leading their own shows. Once The Defenders arrived last summer, it was unclear how each of the heroes would move on in their next seasons. While Jessica Jones zeroed in on its title character, Luke Cage' sophomore season does the opposite. Season 2 of Luke Cage makes the show more of an ensemble project, and it's exactly what it needed to continue capturing fan attention.
Season 2 of Luke Cage is once again set in his neighborhood: the MCU's version of Harlem. Rather than a vague whisper on the street, Luke is a bonafide celebrity and Harlem's hero. This allows the neighborhood to become more of a living, breathing part of the narrative. The quest of power over Harlem sets the backdrop for the show's criminal activity, which Luke and the newly robotic Misty Knight attempt to battle.
The first season of Luke Cage had to give him more backstory, and followed as he attempted to apprehend his long lost brother. While the supporting cast helped move the story forward, they weren't necessarily multifaceted characters. That changed in Season 2, especially when it comes to Luke's nemesis Black Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and her lover Shades (Theo Rossi).
Both Mariah and Shades are given new layers this season, and we learn that there is much more than meets the eye for Harlem's new power couple. Woodard has the potential to steal the entire season away from Mike Colter's Luke Cage, as she plays a relentlessly two faced mob boss with edge and surprising vulnerability. Shades shows new colors in each and every episode, and might be Netflix and Marvel's best villain since Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave.
Mariah's daughter Tilda is also brought into the narrative for Luke Cage Season 2. While she spends most of the season being a tertiary force, she really comes into her own in the last few episodes. It's through scenes with Tilda that Mariah gets to be more real, and it soon becomes clear that her family issues run deeper than we thought.
Of course, many Marvel fans are looking to what happens with fan favorites Claire Temple and Misty Knight. Unfortunately, the latter has way more exciting to do than Rosario Dawson's character. Dawson recently revealed she might be ready to leave the MCU for good, which may explain why Claire is given such a lackluster storyline, especially after her integral role in the show's first season. But Misty Knight is indeed awesome, and fans will get plenty of her cool robotic arm throughout Season 2. Oh and Iron Fist shows up, and he's actually not annoying for once.
In addition to changing the show's supporting characters, Season 2 makes a major change to Luke himself. It's reason enough to warrant a third season, which had to have been a purposeful choice by the showrunner and writers.