If you thought algebra and physics were complicated, that's nothing compared with trying to keep up with the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The shows and various movie franchises make a point of referencing each other from time to time, but that doesn't mean they always get released in order, especially after the events of Avengers: Infinity War. (Spoilers for the film ahead.) So figuring out when Luke Cage Season 2 takes place is more important than ever since it'd be quite the plot twist for half the population in Harlem to sudden be wiped out.
For those in need of a refresher — or who have somehow managed not to get spoiled about the ending of Infinity War — here's what you need to know: Thanos managed to collect all six of the infinity stones, snapped his fingers, and ended up essentially making half the population of the universe fade into dust, as if they never existed. It was a shocking cliffhanger, to say the least, and something that can hopefully be undone with the help of Captain Marvel, given the pager message Nick Fury sent her way before he too disappeared into thin air during the post-credits scene.
Marvel fans won't know how this tragedy will play out until the follow-up film, Avengers 4, gets released in May 2019. But where do the events of Luke Cage's second season fall into this complicated timeline? There are a few helpful clues out there to help fans piece it all together.
Thus far, when it comes to Marvel shows on Netflix, they tend to happen chronologically in the order they're released. For example, Iron Fist is set to appear in the second season of Luke Cage. Viewers already saw these two characters meet and strike up a tentative friendship during the first season of The Defenders, which aired in August 2017. That means their interactions in Season 2 will be sometime after all that drama they had to endure at the hand of, well, The Hand. However, it gets a bit more complicated when you try to factor the Marvel movies into the timeline as well.
Nothing has been confirmed as of yet about when, specifically, Luke Cage will be picking up the action. Obviously, it'll be some time after the events of Season 1 and The Defenders, since Luke seems to be enjoying the celebrity benefits his past heroics have reaped. But when it comes to matching it up with the events of Infinity War, it appears that this particular storyline is taking place before Thanos gets his hands on those stones.
If you go back and watch the Season 2 trailer, nowhere in there does it indicate or even hint at the fact that 50 percent of the population has disappeared. That seems like a major plot development to skip over. Plus, what are the odds that none of the people in Luke's life disintegrated into dust? Half of the Avengers got taken out by the snap of Thanos' fingers, so odds are Luke would've felt the weight of that loss as well — that is, if he himself didn't disappear into nothingness.
Of course, it's possible Thanos wasn't mentioned in the trailer simply to throw fans off the scent, but it feels unlikely. Other members of the MCU have been mentioned on Marvel Netflix shows before, though only briefly — just as if to wave at viewers and say "yes, we're all part of the same world." But something as apocalyptic as millions of people disappearing would definitely steal focus away from Luke to an almost unhelpful degree. How is anyone supposed to care about a new villain in Harlem when there's a much more pressing matter to deal with — like saving Peter Parker?!
So your best bet is to go into this season assuming that these events are taking place after Jessica Jones Season 2 and Season 1 of The Defenders, but before Infinity War. If only Luke had the gift of foresight. Then he could go downtown a bit and warn Tony Stark of what's coming.