A new villain is making his way to the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he's got Harlem in his sights.
The latest trailer for Luke Cage's second season not only reintroduced us to Mike Colter's suave superhero, it also offered the first glimpse at the main villain: Bushmaster, played by actor Mustafa Shakir.
In Marvel Comics lore, Bushmaster is actually two people: John McIver, master criminal, and his younger brother Quincy, who gained bionic arms and a robotic tail after having lost his limbs in a fire. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Netflix series is going with John, who first showed up in 1977's Iron Fist #15 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.
As children, both John and Quincy grew up on an island in the Carribean Sea, and John was smart enough to stay out of trouble, at least until he became a muscle man for a gun runner on the island. John eventually became a Maggia crime lord in Europe under the name John Bushmaster, and he soon sought to expand his empire to the West, starting in New York. The FBI, Interpol and CIA sent Misty Knight in to infiltrate his organization as Maya Korday, and though she was able to successfully join, she soon lost her cover when he decided to put a hit out on Iron Fist and she opted to save him.
Later, Bushmaster went to Seagate Prison, where he convinced Noah Burnstein to repeat the process that powered Luke Cage on him. It proved to be a success, and he was even more powerful than Luke, but in the midst of their climactic fight, a chemical vat was pierced and an electrical line was hit. Luke clearly survived, albeit without his powers for a while, but Bushmaster? Not so much.
Or rather, that's what everyone thought. Instead, his body continued to mutate into unliving metal, and he quickly demanded that Burnstein reverse the process. When Iron Fist showed up to rescue Luke, who was planned to be used as guinea pig for Bushmaster first to make sure everything worked, his transformation accelerated and turned him into immobile steel. It wasn't long after that his body completely crumbled and a metal skeleton remained.
But even that wasn't enough to keep Bushmaster down, as John's son Cruz came into play later following his father's death during Luke's solo book Cage in 1992. Cruz kidnapped and sent Luke and his father's remains to an island fortress in the hopes of correcting the negative effects of what had become known as the "Power Man Process." He liked his father's plan of getting superpowers and decided to get in on the action, but things went horribly wrong for him. In the process, John was somehow revived and opted to take control of his son's body, going under the title "Power Master" now that he could absorb the energies of others. With his new abilities, he was able to drain the energy from Iron Fist, who showed up to save Luke, but again, it proved to be too much. Absorbing all that energy more than John could handle, and he exploded, never to be seen again.
It's clear from the trailer for Luke Cage season 2 that Bushmaster may have already undergone the Burnstein process, though the footage indicates he may be powered by more supernatural means. whatever the case, the fact that he's able to lay Luke out so easily shows that he's no ordinary human. To beat him, it looks like Luke will have to be more brutal than he usually is -- without losing himself in the process.
Arriving June 22 on Netflix, Luke Cage stars Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi, Rosario Dawson, Mustafa Shakir and Gabrielle Dennis.