Since “The Defenders” series 1 was mainly Daredevil and Iron Fist centric, it’s only fair that the second series is Luke Cage and Jessica Jones centric. What I mean by that is, the same way Luke and Jess sorta just stumbled onto the conflict with the Hand, Danny and Matt should be the tag-alongs in the next team-up. Or at the very least, they aren’t the main focus.
So with that said, the villains that I came up with that could be the main focus of the next series are:
1) Resurrected Kilgrave. Maybe some Hand dumbasses decided to bring him back for some reason. That’s how Danny and Matt get involved while Luke and Jessica remain the main focus.
2) IGH returns as the main faction with Will Simpson / Nuke as the main antagonist. You don’t just name drop a villainous group and not do anything with them. IGH is coming back, whether it’s JJ season 2 or Defenders 2.
2A) As an addition to note 2, Diamondback can be the co-main antagonist. Noah Burstein could be an IGH scientist and added Diamondback right next to Will. That’d be one way to tie JJ and LC together.
3) Hammer Industries. Shades and Mariah’s connections to stolen Hammer tech come back to haunt them, forcing them to form a truce with Luke Cage. Luke in turn hires Jessica to spy on Hammer Industries and contacts Danny to use his business influence to challenge Hammer. Matt is involved…somehow.
4) The Purple Children. Jessica discovers that Kilgrave impregnated several women during his reign of terror and sets out to track downs the kids. She finds out that several of the kids were born with the same mind control powers and chaos ensues when they join forces. Honestly, this would be a much more terrifying threat than the Hand.
If only for the sake of my sanity, I’m really hoping that the MCU fandom latches onto Luke Cage’s villains as quickly and completely as they did for Kingpin and Kilgrave.
Both Diamondback and Cottonmouth are every single bit as nuanced, unique and complex as Fisk and Purple Man were, only without the decades of exposure and solid fan-bases that the other villains had. A lot of the reason they work so well on screen is because of the writers and directors, of course, but just as much of the credit for making these obscure characters two of the best villains in any comic adaptation to date goes to Mahershala Ali and Erik LaRay Harvey.
And the cherry on top of all of it was Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard, who’s completely unlike almost any other antagonist put to television, let alone a comic book series.
We were basically given three Fisk-level personalities in one season, and I’m doubting that anything Marvel’s done or will do will come close to this, whether-or-not the larger fandom will recognize it…
No matter how tragic their backstories were, they are still assholes and treated as villains in the story.
Kingpin was never taught how to control his anger and he was abused by his hypermasculine, alcoholic father to the point that he killed him. Sad but still an asshole.
Kilgrave was experimented on by his parents and he grew up never knowing what it was like to experience a genuine connection with people. Sad but still an asshole.
The Punisher (yes he counts since he’s in opposition to Daredevil) couldn’t adjust to civilian life and lost his entire family in a bloody massacre. Super fucking sad but still an asshole.
Cottonmouth and Mariah were raised by their abusive aunt and uncle. Cornell was forced to become a gangster and pulled away from pursuing his dreams of being a musician while Mariah was sexually abused by her uncle. The saddest backstory of them all BUT still assholes.
They all have stories that make you feel sympathy for them but the shows wisely never try to redeem them. Instead, their backstories are there to tell us, the audience, why they are the way they are. We’re still going to root for the hero but knowing how the villain came to be makes them more compelling.
Lots of shows and movies should take notes from the Netflix side of Marvel.
(Side note, I really hope that Marvel TV decides to move all their properties to Netflix. Just imagine just how explosive of a villain Grant Ward could’ve been in Netflix land. Same tragic backstory but written in a more consistent way where he’s the clear Big Bad of the show. I know I’m going to get flack for this but he could’ve been a mixture of Kingpin and Kilgrave. As the head of HYDRA, he would have the take-no-prisoners, mob boss mentality of Kingpin while also having the creepy, obsessive, manipulative personality of Kilgrave. I’m sad that he never got the chance to be the Big Bad since he was always relegated to the secondary antagonist role)
I think I’ve hit a tipping point on some of the dialogue surrounding the Women of Luke Cage, specifically Claire Temple and Misty Knight.
There is this current of thought in the Luke Cage tag that they somehow lost power within the show because they had a romantic relationship with Luke. A sort of “AGAIN?!” response that is very much rooted in mainstream feminism and is very much a slap in the face of intersectionality and the reality of WOC characters in media.
It is still incredibly groundbreaking that Luke Cage pulled off two positive depictions of a romance with two different WOC. There is no “AGAIN” to lament.
Each of these women were shown to be strong and sensual and vulnerable and very much in control of their choices and that should be celebrated. Misty had a, very hot, one night stand and walked away from it never looking back and ended the series an ally of both Luke AND Claire’s. When have you seen that?
Claire’s journey was one of self-discovery. She chose to run after the opportunity to change her career in a manner she desired. She chose not to sleep with Luke until she chose to sleep with him. That is powerful. These images are NOT the norm.
Claire Temple, Misty Knight and Mariah Dillard are NOT Jessica Jones or Karen Page. Their lives are different. The rules are different. Please stop trying to fit them into your incredibly limited world-view.