Luke Cage and Iron Fist: Heroes on Unemployment

Recently it was announced that Netflix has cancelled two Marvel TV shows. Luke Cage and Iron Fist will not be receiving third seasons. There is a diverse amount of reactions to this news. Theories of a team-up show has arisen as well as conspiracies that the Disney Streaming service will be causing all of the Marvel Netflix shows to end soon. I personally have watched every season of every Netflix/Marvel show, and from purely a fan perspective, I’m pretty shocked. Luke Cage and Iron First’s second seasons were far better than their firsts. Both also ended on huge cliffhangers for the characters. Finn Jones, playing Danny Rand, and Mike Colter, playing Luke Cage, both did a great job bringing these characters to life. I can’t help but look to the past and wonder why I, as a fan, will not get to see the character’s future.

 

The Fall and Redemption of the Unstoppable Weapon

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I will be honest. The first season of Iron Fist was…. really hard to watch. As an actual fan of the comics, I had a lot of high hopes (almost in defiance of the reviews and social justice complaints) and they were not met. The fight choreography was terrible. The story didn’t make much sense. There was little to no special effects, with a show that was supposed to have a fucking dragon. But worst of all, the main character just wasn’t likable. Netflix does not release their viewers stats to the public but it was announced that the first season of Iron Fist is still the highest viewed Netflix/Marvel show, and it was so bad that the next show, The Defenders, saw the worst viewership. Some would argue that the first season was so disliked that it ruined the taste of Marvel’s partnership with Netflix permanently for some fans.

Most people don’t realize how that first season of Iron Fist was created. Netflix had a finite budget for the first ‘phase’ of Marvel shows leading up to The Defenders. We were meant to get one season of each of the four shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) and then we would get a Avengers level show with all four heroes put together. The problem was how massive of a success the first season of Daredevil became. It was so good that the studio rushed to get the second season into production immediately after Jessica Jones. This fucked up the budget. Luke Cage stayed the same because it was already in production. But the studio took all the money meant for Iron Fist and gave it too Daredevil. Then they took half the budget for Defenders, which was already being developed, and used it for Iron Fist. They actually were filming The Defenders before they were filming Iron Fist because they weren’t sure what the hell they were even going to do. So in came Scott Buck.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he is famous for being a killer of shows. Other notable accomplishments include Marvel’s Inhumans, the 8th season of Dexter, and Tremors 4: The 4th Tremors. I will say this earnestly, Scott Buck is, and will likely always be, a far more accomplished and successful writer then I will ever be… but he sucks. He has a track record of writing the shows that no one wants to work on/have a proper budget. So when the studio had issues putting together a season for Iron Fist, they hired Scott Buck to be the show-runner. He was able to get a script in, on time, and within budget. The issue was that no one liked it. I think another major issue was that it wasn’t complete. See, one thing that bothered me about The Defenders was that Luke Cage and Jessica Jones kind of have no reason to be in the show. Because of the huge budget swing and rushed Daredevil season two, The Defenders script was half of Daredevil season two (the parts that would have gone where The Punisher story was shoved in) and half of season one of Iron Fist. So the real first season of Iron fist was gutted apart to fill in gaps. I do think there was value in certain characters and scenes. Ward Meachum, played by Tom Phlphrey, was a personal favorite of mine. And the internet fell in love with Colleen Wing, played by Jessica Hendrick.

Fast forward to the second season of Iron Fist. Did you watch it? If you did, they you would be within the small handful of people. Audiences were so burned by Scott Buck’s first season that most never came back. If they did, they would have been blown away at how good it was. Netflix hired a new show-runner named Raven Metzner. In an interview he mentioned how much work he had to put in to make the flaws of the first season into strengths in the second, and it worked. The character playing Danny wasn’t good at fighting on purpose now and it was used as character development. Davos’ abrupt moral swing was explained with flashbacks. We got an awesome new character called Typhoid Mary. My favorite character Ward got a legit character arc. One thing that I also want to point out is how so many “fans” of Colleen Wing who wanted a ‘Misty Knight and Colleen Wing’ show missed the fuck out. Season two of Iron fist is that fucking show! I wont tell you how the season ends but the last 10 minutes had me losing my mind.

 

The Personal Touch of an Immortal Hero

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The Hero of Harlem had a bit of a shaky start but most fans flocked to this show. I remember hearing a second season was green-lit before I even finished the first. Personally I didn’t understand why; I didn’t like the first season. The character seemed to be completely disconnected from his first appearance in Jessica Jones. Also I felt like the season just wasn’t well written. It had a huge build up for a confrontation between the main character and the villain, and then it takes a complete left turn with no satisfaction. Luke Cage is hurt for multiple episodes. The side character of Misty Knight is such a stereotypical ‘mad black woman’ that I grew to hate every moment she was on-screen. They introduce a new villain that the audience is supposed to care about, but doesn’t. And then the last episode has a laughably terrible final fight scene.

I don’t know what happened for this first season. There isn’t some interesting back story or behind the scenes moments. As far as I can find the show-runner, Cheo Hodari Coker, had full reigns to do his show as he pleased. I know I was the odd man with this feeling. Like I said, Luke Cage was a commercial success. Cheo was kept on to do the second season for the show which is why I didn’t watch it right away. Reviews were pretty mixed and honestly after watching the second season of Jessica Jones, I was starting to lose interest in the Netflix/Marvel universe all together. Then one day I had nothing to watch and I decided to put it on. Holy shit was I wrong to be worried. Season two of Luke Cage was possibly the best written season in the entire franchise (other than the third season of Daredevil). The show had multiple compelling villains who were also just compelling characters. The season was all about what it means to be a bad guy and if there really is such a thing. Luke Cage’s character faces a greater development then any other hero in the Netflix/Marvel universe.

Just like with Iron Fist, the season ends on a huge cliffhanger, leaving me to wonder why it was cancelled. What I do know is that the team was working on a third season. It was already given a green light. Reports are that after the cancellation of Iron Fist, Netflix had tried to make changes to the third season of Luke Cage. There is no word of what those changes were but there was a lot of push back. Imagine if you had made two commercially successful seasons with freedom and then after having an established plan, the studio tries forcing things into your script. After several rewrites, the studio wasn’t happy and they cancelled the show.

 

Is There Any Hope For the Heroes for Hire?

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Unfortunately, we probably wont get to see these characters again. Even though it is the show that everyone wants. Literally I remember people asking for the Power Man and Iron Fist team up since the Netflix/Marvel shows even started. What’s crazy is the show really has a chance of working. Imagine Danny Rand, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wong just solving mysteries and kicking ass. All the pieces are there. It could even be the plot of the second Defenders show that will never happen. As of right now there is no mention of a Heroes for Hire show happening. Both Finn Jones and Mike Colter have sent out cryptic tweets that I believe were trying to provoke fan outreach. But I think in this industry we have far too many shows that end too soon to prove that the fans rarely get what they want.

We know that Jessica Jones is working on their third season as well as The Punisher on their second. But beyond that, there is nothing announced. Daredevil season three just came out and is unbelievably amazing, but who knows if we will get a fourth. If there is a sliver of hope, it would be with the Disney streaming service. Many have speculated that this is the actual reason for the Netflix cancellations. Disney has already announced that after The Ant Man and The Wasp, there will be no more Marvel movies going to Netflix. Disney has also announced that they will be generating original content starring the characters from the Marvel Universe, which Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist technically are a part of. I don’t think it’s impossible to see some iteration of the characters moving over to that universe. But for now I’ll just feel bad for the staff, crew, and cast that worked really hard on two shows that brought me some moments of fanboy excitement and joy.

 

Shows watched and sad news reported by: Troy Smith

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