Fans of Netflix’s Marvel shows were shocked and outraged this weekend when it was officially announced that Luke Cage would not be returning for a third season, and mildly upset that the same was said for Iron Fist a few days earlier. But the adventures of Luke and Danny might not yet be over — if Netflix takes a page from the most successful comic starring the two of them: Heroes for Hire.
[Editor’s note: This post will contain spoilers for Luke Cage season two and Iron Fist season two.]
The cancellation of both shows leaves characters and supporting casts in a sort of limbo, waiting for their stories to be resolved. Luke Cage ended with Luke acquiring the nightclub Harlem’s Paradise and setting himself up to take over Mariah Stokes’ territory — not too dissimilar from when Matt Murdock became Kingpin in Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Daredevil run. Meanwhile, Iron Fist ended on a significant cliffhanger, with Colleen Wing inheriting the mantle of the Iron Fist and Danny Rand setting off to learn more about the history of the Iron Fists with Ward Meachum after he discovered the chi-empowered guns of a previous Iron Fist, Orson Randall.
While their separate shows may be cancelled, bringing Luke and Danny — as well as Colleen and Misty Knight — together to create the Heroes For Hire is a logical step
While neither show proved to be quite the critical hits that their sister shows Daredevil and Jessica Jones are, both second seasons of Iron Fist and Luke Cage showed their lead actors growing into their roles and ended on thrilling cliffhangers which left viewers wanting more. And that’s not dissimilar to how things went for Luke Cage and the Iron Fist when they debuted in Marvel Comics in the early 1970s.
Luke Cage, created by Archie Goodwin and George Tuska, was inspired by blaxploitation movies such as Shaft and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song — while Iron Fist, created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, was inspired by kung-fu action movies like Enter The Dragon and Fist of Fury. Luke’s series lasted 49 issues, while Danny’s made it just 15. Instead of cancelling both titles however, Marvel rolled them into a new series: Power Man and Iron Fist, beginning with issue #50 (picking up its numbering from the 49 issues of Power Man) by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. And Misty Knight and Colleen Wing were there right from the beginning.
There have been several incarnations of the Heroes For Hire since, but it’s always contained some combination of Luke, Danny, Colleen and Misty — except for when Deadpool briefly stole the name and they had to sue him to make him change it. And given how much things have changed for all four characters by the end of the two shows, bringing them back together for a follow up mission just makes sense.
Luke Cage even tested the waters with its season two episode “The Main Ingredient” which saw Danny team up with Luke in his quest to find Bushmaster’s supply of nightshade, and it was easily the most likeable Danny Rand has ever been. That episode and Misty and Colleen’s awesome bar fight earlier in the season, there’s plenty of proof that a Heroes For Hire series has legs.
Marvel and Disney’s choice of Netflix as the home of its four Marvel Cinematic Universe series showed faith in the platform’s original content, in an era when all Netflix really had to its name was House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black and Hemlock Grove. The streaming world has changed a lot since 2015, but if the end of these shows marks the beginning of the end for that partnership, it’s better to go out on a high-note — celebrating everything great about the Defenders era of Marvel television.
Kieran Shiach is a Salford, U.K.-based freelance writer and one half of Good Egg Podcasts. He is on Twitter, @KingImpulse. He wishes in the past he tried more things ’cause now he knows being in trouble is a fake idea.