Luke Cage season two may be about “the bulletproof black man with Barack’s easy smile, Martin’s charm and Malcolm’s forthright swagger” – but other characters aren’t quite so invulnerable.
As season two opens, character Misty Knight is facing up to her new status as an amputee after losing her arm during the climax of The Defenders.
Set photos for the new season have revealed that as the show progresses, Misty will gain the incredible ‘bionic arm’ that fans of her character in the comics know and love – but that feels a long way off as season two begins.
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That character arc plays a key role in the Netflix series, but it begs the question: how did the show actually film Misty’s missing arm?
Behind the scenes on Luke Cage season 2: Actor Simone Missick waits as Misty Knight’s ‘bionic’ arm is adjusted before filming (Netflix)
In the video below, showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and director of the opening episode Lucy Liu explain how they worked with actor Simone Missick to make her character’s pain come alive – and the tricks they used to make the final result convincing.
Director Lucy Liu explains that when she was first planning out her episode, she hadn’t even seen what had happened to Misty Knight at the end of The Defenders, and it was only late in the day that her injury was revealed.
“I hadn’t seen The Defenders at the time, it had not been released,” she says. “They were very secretive about releasing any information, but finally they showed me a scene of what had happened and how it had happened.”
Once that piece of the puzzle was established, it was time to get to work.
“I think to me the arm is the crux of why she is in the state she is in when we see her in the first episode,” Liu says. “What we want to capture is what’s happening emotionally with her. That’s what we tried to focus on.
“We very carefully planned out scenes where, if we were going to shoot her, we would do it from the right side, or if we do a wide [shot] she would have a green sleeve on. When we do the close-ups, we wouldn’t need that,” Liu explains.
Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick prepare for a scene in Luke Cage season two. Director Lucy Liu explains how they would film from one side to make sure that Missick’s right arm wasn’t in shot (Netflix)
Liu explains that as an actor herself, she knew that it was important for the process to be as “seamless” as possible.
“The most important thing was to make sure it didn’t interrupt what the actor was doing,” she says. “And I know not a lot of people are not as focussed on that, but to me coming from the acting side of the world, it was very crucial for me to keep it seamless.
“It starts to really mess with your mind [as an actor] when you get focussed on that, because you start thinking, ‘If the audience is looking at that one button that’s missing, then I’m not doing something right.'”
Later episodes will show how Misty’s prosthetic arm (above) is engineered, but for showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, it was vital to ensure that the character’s early experience rang true.
“For me everything has a rhythm and has a music,” he says. “And so knowing that we were going to use the Gregory Isaac song ‘Night Nurse’, there’s a line where he says ‘This heart is broken in two’ – which lined up perfectly with the visual that Lucy had visualised with Misty sitting alone drinking.”
He adds, “It was the way that Lucy shot it, and how Simone Missick acted it, that you could see just how forlorn and broken she was at losing this part of herself.”