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Luke Cage Makes the Best Use of Marvel's Shared TV Universe

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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 2 of Marvel's Luke Cage, streaming on Netflix now.

Netflix first plunged fans into its own corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Daredevil in. From there, the streaming service's partnership with Marvel quickly grew, first with the introduction of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, then the arrival of Elektra and the Punisher, and finally Danny Rand, who was the last big Marvel hero to get his own show before the Defenders would assemble to save New York City in a massive event series. These characters quickly came to realize that there were others like themselves out there, street-level heroes barely scraping by, dedicating their lives to helping people. Once the city was saved in Defenders' final act, they went their separate ways, but their world had fundamentally changed. It had gotten bigger, with friends and allies patrolling the same neighborhoods, just a phone call or chance meeting at a local bodega away.

Coming out of The Defenders, The Punisher featured a starring role for Daredevil's Karen Page, but that was as far as that series went when it came to connecting with the greater MCU. For all intents and purposes, The Punisher was its own standalone story. Then came the second season of Jessica Jones, which continued Jessica's story with barely any acknowledgement of the shared universe the private investigator was a part of, save for a few forced mentions.

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But then came Season 2 of Luke Cage, which took advantage of the bigger world the show is a part of. The new season not only features special guest appearances and numerous name-drops, it does so in a manner that feels organic to the story unfolding on screen.

Season 2 of Luke Cage didn't shy away from using the large cast of Netflix's corner of the MCU. Not only do we get appearances from Claire Temple, Foggy Nelson and career criminal Turk Barrett, we also get visits from Iron Fist's fan-favorite Colleen Wing as well as a full episode guest-starring Finn Jones' Danny Rand.

RELATED: Joe Quesada Celebrates Luke Cage Season 2 with Haunting New Art

Each of these characters' appearances served a very specific and important purpose. Claire was partly responsible for fueling Luke's rage and anger that would drive him for the better part of the season. Foggy is brought in as Luke's lawyer when he's sued by a criminal Luke beat to a pulp; Colleen helps Misty Knight cope with the loss of her arm, and Danny Rand visits Harlem to support his friend Luke in his time of need -- not to mention fight by his side as Luke takes on Bushmaster's army of soldiers.

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