Luke Cage season 2 is full of your usual treasure trove of Marvel Comics Easter eggs and references - but it also contains quite a few references to the music and cinema of black culture, as well. Ice Cube's 1995 cult-hit comedy Friday managed to get a reference in the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton, and manages to prove its continued staying power with a hilarious callback in one of Luke Cage season 2's most pivotal moments.
WARNING - MILD SPOILERS follow!
In the opening of season 2 episode 4, "I Get Physical", Luke is out for a nightly stroll around Harlem, when he's suddenly ambushed by Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir). After a very quick scuffle, Bushmaster lands a hit on Luke that takes the bullet-proof hero down, hard. Luke is knocked clean out, but when he wakes up, the camera is looking upward from his POV, at the crowd of onlookers gathered around him. The shot is a reference to Friday's climatic moments, when Craig (Ice Cube) knocks out neighborhood bully Deebo (Tommy Lister). Deebo wakes up to the very same kind of POV shot of neighbors (including Chris Tucker's Smokey) all looking down at him. In this MCU version, we get Luke's biggest fan and hype man, D.W., looking down at him, saying "Damn Luke, Shabba Ranks laid you out!" which is a direct play on what Tucker's Smokey says to Deebo.
While the actual scene and reference are meant for laughs, this moment in Luke Cage season 2 is actually a major pivotal moment for the hero. Luke's swagger comes from being Harlem's bullet-proof hero, confident that he's able to withstand any kind of blow that comes his way. In the season 2 premiere, he shakes off an exploding truck and Judas bullet with nary a scratch - but when Bushmaster rocks his world, it fulfills the warning that Luke's lady, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) tried to give him: that there would come a day and instance where someone figured out how to him, and that day would change his entire sense of self.
As for how Bushmaster gets his incredible powers - we've already broken down that origin story HERE. Suffice to say, Bushmaster's presence in season 2 opens the door of possibility that Luke isn't the only black man out there with extraordinary genetic potential, brought to the surface by ruthless experimentation. Given where season 2 leaves things, it will be interesting to see what other threats are waiting out there to strike at Harlem's Hero.
Luke Cage season 2 is now streaming on Netflix. Iron Fist season 2 will follow it at a date TBA; The Punisher season 2 is also in production.