When it comes to Marvel’s on-screen properties, viewers expect a certain level of fan service, with the comics giant’s film and TV projects absolutely stuffed full of Easter eggs, references and callbacks to other films and the original comic books.
“That’s the thing that’s always fun about the Easter Eggs. Luke Cage season one and two are probably the most ‘Easter Egg-y’ of any of the Marvel series,” series showrunner (and longtime comics fan) Cheo Hodari Coker told RadioTimes.com.
“That’s just me being a geek!” he laughs. “I love dropping little references. I love all those little things that you can throw in there that people are going to Google.”
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For our part, to save your Googling, we’ve collected together some of our favourite Easter Eggs and callbacks from the new season below – check them out and let us know what we might have missed.
Note: This article only covers the first seven episodes of Luke Cage season 2 to avoid spoilers. It will be updated at a later date.
Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is a mainstay of the Marvel Netflix series, and her character also has a pedigree in the comics, where she spends her time treating injured heroes under the pseudonym “Night Nurse”.
Her alter-ego gets a big wink in the very first episode of Luke Cage season two, with Claire and Luke (Mike Colter) dancing and enjoying some alone time (while other characters face their own issues) to the strains of Gregory Isaac’s song Night Nurse.
“There’s a line where he says, ‘This heart is broken in two’, which lined up perfectly with the visual that [director] Lucy [Liu] had with Misty sitting alone drinking,” Coker told RadioTimes.com.
“It’s also about Claire of course, so it’s tongue in cheek. I wanted to do it in season one but it really fits season two,” he adds.
“I wanted to use Night Nurse, because there was the rumour that Claire was the Night Nurse – it was kind of a play on that. It’s subtext, but it’s also just a beautiful song.”
While there’s still not TOO much crossover with the main Marvel Cinematic Universe, Luke Cage does have plenty of nods to its fellow Netflix series, with cameos from characters including Daredevil’s Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Iron Fist’s Colleen Wing and Danny Rand (Jessica Henwick and Finn Jones).
We’d still love it if Thor popped round one day just to say hi, but we can’t have everything.
Misty Knight’s (Simone Missick) new robotic arm has a long history in the comics, though originally she got her hi-tech appendage thanks to the generosity of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man.
In this version of the story, though, it’s Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist, who she met during the Defenders mini-series) who uses his cash and technological dealings to hook her up.
While the Marvel Netflix series have mostly given up on connecting much to the movies – Luke Cage has no reference to the shocking final moments of Avengers: Infinity War, for example, which one might assume would affect even these low-level heroes – there are still a few callbacks in this series to “The Incident,” aka the invasion of the Chitauri during the first 2012 Avengers film.
Laws governing the use and sale of Incident-related tech are also noted, which could slightly tie into the themes of 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which saw an unscrupulous contractor (Michael Keaton) selling such items on the black market.
At least one of the Avengers also gets a shout-out in the series, with several drunk stockbrokers speculating whether Luke is actually stronger than the Hulk.
“Who’s tougher – you or the green monster?” one of the guests at a party asks.
However, in what may be a nod to the Netflix series’ habit of not calling the Avengers by their real names – previous descriptions have included “hammer guy,” “the green guy” and “the flag-waver” – one of the other partygoers then complains, “Hey, that’s not his name!”
Finally, the concerns of nerdy MCU fans are being addressed on screen.
Heroes for Hire
On a few occasions Luke describes himself as a “Hero for Hire (or comments that somebody has “hired this hero”), in reference to his original comic book Luke Cage: Hero for Hire and the profit-based superhero company he later set up with Danny Rand.
This was also nodded to quite a bit in the first series, and fans are hoping that a full Heroes for Hire TV series may be on the cards. Given that season two sees Luke and Danny team up to fight baddies once again, who knows? Maybe the idea has some legs.
Luke is also called by his original comic-book alter-ego at one point, as he was a few times during the original series. Frankly, we’d love it if he started calling himself Power Man again down the line.
New character Tilda Dillard (Gabrielle Dennis) is introduced this series as the ex-doctor daughter of Alfre Woodard’s Mariah, who has now opened a shop selling herbs and natural remedies. However, in the comics she has a far darker background.
You see, Tilda is based on comic-book character Nightshade, who uses pheromones and special chemicals to control her enemies and turn people into werewolves (yes, really) and battles Captain America and the Falcon among others.
There’s a nod to this origin in Luke Cage season two, when she sells a series of special herbs to Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) including one crucial ingredient that she later mentions to herself – Nightshade.
Daughters of the Dragon
One of the most enjoyable scenes in the new series comes when Misty Knight and Colleen Wing easily take down a group of thugs in a bar, with the pair teaming up and kicking ass despite Misty’s missing arm.
This team-up, like Danny and Luke’s, also has some basis in the comics, where the pair often come together to fight foes under the name “Daughters of the Dragon.” Another TV spin-off, you say? Don’t mind if we do.
And finally – the Easter Eggs that DIDN’T go in
The first season of Luke Cage attracted a lot of attention for including a sneaky Back to the Future Easter Egg – and according to Coker, there were plans for Lost to get a similar treatment this time around.
“I didn’t get to do it but I was going to drop the Lotto numbers from Lost somewhere,” Coker told RadioTimes.com.
“I was going to put that in there, I was going to have someone else go on a Dharma retreat.”
Oh well – knowing Coker’s love of pop culture, we’re sure there are still plenty of other hidden nuggets for fans to find. Get hunting!
Luke Cage season 2 is streaming on Netflix now