One of the joys of "shared franchise universes" like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all of the in-house references and Easter eggs dotted throughout the plot for the hardcore fans to find. Between the comics, the movies, and the TV shows, Marvel's Luke Cage is no exception. Being based in the world of comics means viewers get references from two directions, both from the already established MCU and from the source material. There is at least one major Luke Cage Season 2 Easter egg per episode in this new season. Warning: Spoilers for Luke Cage Season 2 follow.
Before we dive into this list, I want to shout out to the costume designer, Stephanie Maslansky, and her brilliant notion to have DW wear a different Luke Cage/Power Man branded T-shirt in every episode. Those shirts and hoodies were Easter eggs unto themselves every time someone walked into the barbershop and saw them hanging on the wall. I looked forward to every time DW would show up on-screen to see which shirt he had on this time.
So, where have you seen that image before? Or why *does* that line seem so familiar? Let's run down all the best callbacks and Easter eggs tucked away in Luke Cage's second season.
This one's less an Easter egg than a cameo appearance. Todd Bowles is the current New York Jets head coach, though the field they're doing the workout on is the Harlem Jets youth football field. Basically, this scene is a bunch of New York-centric references and inside jokes.
This is the first character crossover episode, with Colleen Wing from Iron Fist, who became close friends with Misty during The Defenders. She shows up as her PT coach and her drinking buddy.
This is the big Daredevil crossover, as Foggy, who became Luke's lawyer in The Defenders, makes an appearance to represent him when Cockroach decides to sue for damages.
This episode is so self-referential. Piranha owns so many props from Season 1, it's like he had access to the prop closet or something. Though perhaps the bullet hole-ridden hoodie, which became Luke's signature look last season, was the creepiest and funniest one.
Luke Cage's first comic was actually entitled Luke Cage: Hero For Hire. As an ex-con, he had trouble getting a job. So Luke went into business for himself, getting paid as a protector. The show having Piranha hire Luke in this episode was golden.
Sticking Piranha's head in a fish tank full of piranhas may have been a visual pun, but it's also a reference to the original character, who had piranha-like teeth and bit his enemies.
The scene with Shades when he goes home to Comanche's mother is touching, but it's also an Easter egg from the comics. Shades and Comanche are long-standing partners in the comics, knocking over the Meachum family as much as they knock around making trouble for Luke Cage.
This one's chock full of Easter eggs, including references to Pete Stokes from the comics as well as Luke Cage's upbringing. And of course, it introduces the partnership between Danny Rand and Luke Cage, which was a staple of their stories in the 1970s and 1980s.
Power Man & Iron Fist was the name of the shared comic for Luke Cage and Danny Rand from 1975 to 1986. This entire episode is basically one long Easter egg from their shared comic.
Bushmaster and Luke Cage are two sides of the same coin. His bulletproof nature on the page is actually from Luke Cage during a fight, not a drug. It was nice to see the show take a moment and acknowledge their characters' similarities.
The appearance of Rosalie Carbone in this episode and the next episode take a character out of The Punisher. Carbone meets Frank Castle and falls in love with him. But when she discovers the truth about who he is, she becomes one of his biggest adversaries.
There's a couple here, but my two favorites are actually outside references. I howled when Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker appeared as himself to discuss Luke Cage. And that ending with the clear Godfather reference with Misty staring at Luke through the closing door as Sugar whispered in his ear was perfect.