Like most superheroes, Luke Cage was introduced as a character with little in the way of family ties. In Season 1, we learned his father, a preacher and upstanding citizen, had an illegitimate son Luke didn't know about. His parent also disowned him when he went to Seagate Prison and didn't seem to believe he had been framed, even though he was innocent. This season dives deeper into the relationship, as Rev. James Lucas arrives in Harlem and starts preaching. So, who is Luke Cage's father really? Is Luke's view of him true, or is it colored by emotion? Warning: Spoilers for Luke Cage Season 2 follow.
From their first meeting, James Lucas certainly seems a rigid man who does not approve of what his son has become. His sermons argue depending on a "Luke Cage" to save the day is wrong, and his congregation should be their own heroes. It's also clear from their first meeting that Luke is in no way ready to even consider what his father might be doing in Harlem, or why he moved up from Georgia, other than to piss him off and be a thorn in his side.
Fans also learn that though Luke's parents disowned him, it was not really his mother's choice. She was dying of cancer. It was James who refused to consider his son might be innocent and dragged her away. It was the last time Luke saw his mother alive.
So, Luke is carrying around a lot of anger and hurt towards his father, both for not being the man he once looked up to, and for taking his mother away. It's not surprising that his view of his father is a little skewed.
Claire, on the other hand, can see the picture more clearly. James didn't just move several states away and build a new flock from scratch in New York City because he hates his son, or wants to make him miserable. He's there because there's an unbridgeable gap between the two of them, one he wants to cross, but does not begin to know how.
Meanwhile, Luke isn't listening to Claire or her wisdom. This is therapy-level stuff he's dealing with, and going out playing the superhero isn't going to fix it long term. He needs to face his anger towards his father head-on, and repair the relationship if he ever wants to start moving on. In response, Luke... punches a hole in her apartment wall, proof, in case anyone needed it, of how right she is.
Can Luke and his father make up the gulf between them and find common ground before it's all over? With not one, but two major antagonists this season hell-bent on taking down Luke Cage, he's going to need all the support he can find. But his traditional standbys, including both Claire and Bobby Fish, have left town, and though Misty tries, she cannot be all the support Luke needs.
Luke Cage's father, for those who are trying to place his voice, is the late actor Reg. E. Cathey, famous for roles like Freddy on Netflix's other prestige show, House of Cards. He was nominated for an Emmy three times for his performance on the series, taking home the win once. He also acted in The Wire, Grimm, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He passed away in February 2018.
Luke Cage Season 2 wrapped filming just before Thanksgiving of 2017. Cathey's passing was announced less than three months later. This role as Luke Cage's father is the last one he committed to film, and the show dedicated the show to him. As a performance, it's a tribute to his legacy and a fine farewell.