Netflix cancelled Marvel's Luke Cage Friday night, but fans are still trying to figure out how a show so close to renewal had its plug pulled. There are reportedly multiple reasons behind Netflix's surprising decision, including creative differences and costs.
"Unfortunately, Marvel's Luke Cage will not return for a third season," Marvel and Netflix said in a statement. "Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem's Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series."
According to Deadline, "creative differences" played a role in Netflix's decision. Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker was already overseeing a writers' room plotting new stories and star Mike Colter was still under contract. However, everything went south late last week.
Coker and his team had already plotted the first half of a 10-episode season, but executives wanted him to go back and incorporate suggestions. Although Coker agreed to make some changes, Marvel's parent company Disney and Netflix were working on a new deal to make Luke Cage's third season 10 episodes instead of 13. This eventually caused "behind-the-scenes turmoil," as Deadline described it, and it all came to a head with Netflix just deciding to scrap it.
Another reason is costs. When Netflix originally made a deal with Marvel in 2013, Netflix did not have a library anywhere near the size it has today, so it was willing to put money down on a show it did not own outright. Now that Netflix is pouring money into its own projects, the streaming giant likely saw trimming the Marvel shows as a way to tighten its belt.
The usual reason for cancellations - low ratings - might not apply for Luke Cage. Netflix does not release viewer data, but Luke Cage's two seasons were well-reviewed. When the first season debuted in 2016, it was reportedly responsible for causing a nationwide Netflix outage.
The cancellation was such a surprise that even Coker seemed thrown aback.
"A lot memories. A lot of individual thank you calls to make. Just want to say thank you to Marvel, Netflix, the best Writer's room, cast, crew, the Midnight Hour, all those who graced the stage at Harlem's Paradise and the most incredible fan base in the world. Forward always," the writer tweeted on Saturday.
Luke Cage starred Colter as the title character, an ex-convict who got bullet-proof skin after an experiment while he was in jail for a crime he did not commit. After arriving home in Harlem, he fought crooked politicians and gangsters to keep his home safe. The series also starred Theo Rossi, Simone Missick, Rosario Dawson and Alfre Woodard.
The cancellation leaves Netflix with three Marvel shows - Daredevil, Jessica Jones and The Punisher. Disney is currently developing its own streaming platform, which is expected to be the home of new Marvel shows.
Photo credit: Netflix