Bushmaster In The Luke Cage Comics Is Way More Than A Super-Villain
Luke Cage already faced Cottonmouth and Diamondback in the first season of his Netflix show. And in Luke Cage Season 2, out June 22, a new villain emerges — John "Bushmaster" McIver, played by Mustafa Shakir. The Bushmaster in Luke Cage comics has connections to already-established characters like Misty Knight, Iron Fist, a.k.a. Danny Rand, and Dr. Noah Burstein.
As shown in Season 1, Dr. Burstein is responsible for Luke's powers. Those powers that make Luke so invincible, like his bulletproof and unbreakable skin, Bushmaster also has. However, he doesn't share Luke's hero mentality. And if the Marvel comics are any indication, Shakir's Bushmaster will be a formidable foe.
There are actually two Bushmasters in the comics, as Comic Book Resources noted. But the first was John "Bushmaster" McIver, who was introduced in Iron Fist #15 in 1977. He grew up on a Caribbean island with his little brother Quincy (who eventually becomes the second Bushmaster). As an adult, John Bushmaster runs the European branch of the crime syndicate Maggia. He wants to spread his organization to the U.S., so he heads to New York City. That's when he meets Misty, who is undercover as Maya Corday as a way to infiltrate Maggia. She has to feign romantic interest in Bushmaster although she is dating Danny Rand at the time.
When Misty finds out that Bushmaster plans to kill Iron Fist, she blows her cover. Bushmaster then contacts Luke Cage (or, "Power Man") to bring Misty back to him. As Syfy noted, Bushmaster blackmails Luke into doing this by capturing Claire Temple and Dr. Burstein. While trying to find Misty, Luke and Iron Fist meet for the first time, so Bushmaster in the comics is actually the bad guy who set these two superheroes up.
Luke, Iron Fist, Misty, and Colleen Wing all join forces to get Claire and Dr. Burstein back from Bushmaster. But knowing that he wouldn't be able to survive a fight with Luke's Power Man, Bushmaster forces Dr. Burstein to conduct the same experiments that he had done on Luke Cage. Dr. Burstein performs the experiments on Bushmaster at Seagate Prison — and Bushmaster ends up becoming even more powerful than Luke.
Despite his elevated powers, Bushmaster is seemingly defeated in the battle with Luke, Iron Fist, Misty, and Colleen. Of course, he comes back again, but the experiments have led his body to turn into metal. He becomes a metal statue and doesn't bother Luke again until he manages to evolve in another way.
In the 1992 Cage comics, Bushmaster's son tries to get his own powers. Cruz McIver becomes superhuman, but he awakens his father in the process. Bushmaster is even more powerful than before with super size and he becomes Power Master. As Power Master, he kills his son and tries to kill Luke. But Iron Fist intervenes and puts an end to John Bushmaster/Power Master apparently once and for all.
As the Luke Cage Season 2 trailer shows, Bushmaster will already have his abilities when he meets Luke. And not only does Bushmaster have Luke's power to survive bullets, but he has a more nimble fighting style. Shakir's version in Luke Cage is also specifically from Jamaica and seems to have a connection to the neighborhood where the series takes place. He tells Luke, "Harlem is mine."
In an interview with DigitalSpy, Shakir insinuated that Bushmaster is in Luke Cage for longer than Mahershala Ali's Cottonmouth was. He said that viewers will "really get to know" Bushmaster and added, "I stick around for a good portion of it." So even though the Marvel version of the character isn't the person who sets up Luke Cage and the Iron Fist to become vigilante pals, this menacing figure will be playing perhaps an even bigger role in the Netflix show than he did in the comics.