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Luke Cage fans were stunned when the series was cancelled by Netflix after Season 2. Just a week after another Marvel series, Iron Fist, was relieved of its duties by the streamer, Luke Cage got the same treatment almost four months after the new season debuted. The big difference between these two shows is that Iron Fist did not get strong reviews and was also panned by many Marvel fans, while Luke Cage garnered opposite reactions, meaning that its cancellation was way more surprising.
Star Mike Colter offered his thanks to Marvel, the fans and Netflix after Luke Cage's cancellation, but it turns out that he wasn't caught off guard like so many of us viewers. While at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, he spoke to CinemaBlend's Nick Venable and other journalists (after the CBS panel for his new fall show, Evil) about the process that led him to believe Luke Cage might be in trouble.
It was a process that was happening. Season 3 was greenlit. They were in the process of greenlighting scripts, approving stuff like that and it just kept getting delayed, delayed, delayed for a lot of reasons. It’s unfortunate, but I feel like we left people wanting more instead of staying too long. It’s always a possibility that something like that could come around again, just not right now.
While there were reports that Luke Cage lost two-thirds of its audience between Season 1 and Season 2 (amounting to a 59% dip in viewership), there were also rumblings that there was some behind the scenes tension between Netflix and the creative team. Apparently, Netflix wasn't happy with the first scripts for Season 3, and potential changes to the creatives behind Luke Cage couldn't be agreed on. Add to both of those things the fact that Netflix was clearly done being in the Marvel business, and the show was sunk.
As Mike Colter said, the process of getting scripts and other aspects of Season 3 approved kept getting delayed for various reasons, and that does seem like a good reason to assume that something might not be going so well between the show and Netflix. But, he's been able to stay positive about having to leave Luke Cage behind, noting that at least the show was able to leave people wanting more instead of overstaying its welcome.
About preparations on Luke Cage Season 3 getting delayed on a regular basis, Colter did confirm that the whole thing gave him "a feeling."
I think I probably had a little more intel about it, because I felt like the delays and the postponement of our starting was starting to get a little bit habitual. And I had a feeling. So, while that was happening, I was doing lots of little different projects and just working. I’m always the kind of person [who] never counts my chickens before they hatch. Everyone thought it was a guaranteed success, so it was going to just be picked up.
This is a good lesson for everyone, thanks to Mike Colter: always trust your gut, people! Instead of sitting back and relying on the idea that because Luke Cage had been successful, it would surely be renewed for at least one more season, Colter paid attention to what he was feeling when he noticed that plans for Season 3 kept stalling, and just continued to work on other projects.
Mike Colter also noted that while pretty much everyone else appeared to be on the same page about Luke Cage continuing and felt that the future for the show looked bright, he counted on his inner no-premature-chicken-counting nature to carry him through:
We were picked up. We were greenlighted. Everyone at Netflix, everyone at Marvel, so it was a foregone conclusion that we would start. But again, I’m one of those people – I dunno if it’s pragmatic, pessimistic, whatever you want to call it – until I’m on set and I’m filming, I don’t believe anything. It didn’t catch me off guard.
Well, while it was sad to not get any more of Luke Cage, at least Mike Colter wasn't as surprised as the rest of us were about the show ending. As I mentioned earlier, you'll be able to catch more of Colter when his new drama, Evil, debuts on CBS on Thursday, September 26 at 10 p.m. EST. But, if it's Luke Cage you're missing, you can always relive Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix at any time.