Interview: 'Luke Cage' Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker Talks Season Two, Villains, and Music

To date, the TV incarnation of Luke Cage has hooked up with Jessica Jones, buddied with Iron First, joined the Defenders, and even wore that yellow shirt. With all of those boxes checked off, Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker says that there's lots of uncharted and unexpected territory yet to explore in the Hero For Hire's upcoming second season on Netflix.

Chatting with at the premiere of Marvel's Black Panther, Coker revealed that he's feeling extremely enthusiastic about the mostly completed second season, which he says will more deeply explore exactly who Cage is at his core, as well as feature new takes on classic villains like Bushmaster – and maybe a few more familiar baddies as well.

**** Do you have Season Two in the can, all finished?

Cheo Hodari Coker: Yeah, number two is in the can. I can't say that it's finished, because they always pull it away from you as you say, "Let's try this, let's try that," but I'm really excited about it. I really think that Season Two is going to be spectacular, and I hope that everybody else loves it as much as I love it.

Something I like about the prospect of it is that previously, we sort of knew the grand plan leading up to Defenders, but now everything's an open book. Did that help you a lot as far as where you were able to go?

Well, it helped from the standpoint of this season is really about who is Luke Cage and getting much deeper into that, but also finding out different things about Mariah Dillard, also finding out things about Misty Knight, because now I can finally talk about the fact that she doesn't have her arm and getting her new arm and what that entails from an emotional standpoint.

Also, new villains that we have coming out. Mustafa Shakir has been announced as Bushmaster, and so we have a very interesting twist on him. You know, we have Gabrielle Dennis who is playing a character I can't name yet, but also is going to be an important factor. It's just really one of these seasons that I stand back and I'm like, "Oh man, this is just so much fun."

Was there any iteration of the comic book that you took even a kernel of inspiration from for this particular season, any storyline sparks from the source material?

Well, not really – I would say not a storyline as much as, OK, say, a character, like Bushmaster, because of his powers and what that represents against Luke. I mean, we took that inspiration, but there wasn't any particular storyline. But the thing is, what's so great about the world of Luke Cage is that there's so many different villains, the challenge is introducing new ones. And we also have some ones that people have heard of that I'm not going to announce yet, but it's really an interesting season, it really is!

The music in Season One was so great, as we all expected it would be from you. But tell me about where your inspiration came from for the second season.

The music this season's even better. If last season was about introducing hip-hop to the Marvel Universe, this season is really about getting to the roots of hip-hop, which to me are the blues and reggae. And so, without getting too deep into plot, because everyone knows how music ties into the plot for the way that I conceived the show, we explored the entire diaspora of black music this season – in addition to exploring different cultures. It's really a fun season.

And what a great time, too, to be playing with that character – Marvel's got Black Panther coming out, everybody's talking about race and diversity and all the issues -- that must be, as an artist, great to be right in there telling stories as everybody's having this conversation.

Well, the fact that of the matter is, it's like, I'm not alone. And, it's just incredible to see the fact that we're all here [at the premiere] for Black Panther, which as a gig is a dream come true, but also as an African American writer and aspiring director and producer, it's also a dream just seeing how Ryan Coogler came up and doing something like this, watching Michael B. Jordan evolve from when I first saw him on 'The Wire" to now being, you know, a hero like this, and also having had the opportunity to co-write, create too, which is one of the things I did last year. I mean, I just think that this really represents the moment, and I think it's a great moment and I'm just so excited to see the movie.

What's it been like to watch Mike Colter now that he is Luke Cage to the world, and to see how he carries that mantle, you know when he's out and everybody sees him and recognizes him. What's been fun about that side of it?

Well, it's just fun. Mike is just like a fun, goofy guy, but, then when he stops smiling and he turns his head, it's like, "Oh my god, it's Luke Cage!" And so, what's been fun actually, is watching him put on subtle disguises so that he can walk around, but as soon as he takes his hat off or as soon as he grows his hair a certain way, he's Luke Cage. And so it's kind of funny watching him hide in plain sight. But, he's such a great guy and such an incredible actor and such a great partner that the entire experience of working with him and working with everyone has really been great.

How much would you like to get Mike and Chadwick Boseman in a scene together? Just one scene.

I would love that, I really would! I mean, because it would be, like, OK. T'Challa could definitely get on Pop's "free haircut" list.


Luke Cage is scheduled to return on Netflix for Season Two sometime in 2018.