Here’s Why Marvel Flipped the ‘Luke Cage’ and ‘Iron Fist’ Premieres
Soon to be four seasons into Marvel’s Netflix Defenders with the release of Luke Cage, the comic company offers little insight into its scheduling process beyond two seasons a year. At one point, Marvel even thought Iron Fist should follow Jessica Jones, of which Luke Cage’s showrunner now says they opted to “follow the momentum.”
A lengthy Complex profile of both Luke Cage star Mike Colter and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker offered a bit of insight into the scheduling-swap, which also reportedly owed to Marvel needing time to hone its Iron Fist vision. According to Coker, his own approach to Cage and Colter’s breakout performance significantly upped the timetable.
Colter’s buzzed-about characterization of Cage provided an unexpected anchor of that triumph—suddenly, a solo Cage series was on the fast track. According to Coker, Marvel and Netflix had originally slated martial arts superhero Iron Fist as the next character from the Defenders—a loose federation bringing together Marvel’s more street-level heroes like Daredevil, Jones, and Cage—to get his own series. Coker had worked up a treatment capturing his vision for the show that was turning heads; meanwhile, Colter had proven a popular breakout on Jessica Jones. For once, the internet pretty much agreed: No one could play Cage better than him. “Marvel went from, ‘We’re gonna take our time’ to ‘Let’s flip it and do Luke Cage first,’” Coker says. “‘We’ve got this great concept and this guy is leaping off the screen, let’s follow the momentum.’”
Of course, it’s difficult to surmise if Marvel’s original Netflix plan had always intended to include second seasons for the Defender series, which ended up separating Jessica Jones and Luke Cage by a second Daredevil run anyway. Marvel also altered its plans to include a Punisher spinoff, which itself remains opaquely scheduled sometime between 2017 and 2018, amid Iron Fist, The Defenders, Jessica Jones Season 2 and Daredevil Season 3.