When Luke Cage first joined Netflix's Marvel universe in Jessica Jones Season 1, he quickly sparked up a whirlwind romance with the titular detective turned superhero. But by the time his own spin-off rolled around, he'd moved on, first having a brief fling with Misty Knight then falling for his nurse-turned-confidant Claire Temple. And now that the ex-couple will be forced to reunite for Hell's Kitchen team-up The Defenders, premiering Aug. 18, it's worth revisiting why Luke Cage and Jessica Jones broke up in the first place.
Jessica first meets Luke while spying on him at his bar. He catches her and invites her in for a drink, and the two spend the night together. Of course, what Luke doesn't know is that Jessica killed his wife, Reva, while under mind control from Kilgrave, her abusive ex. Realizing that Kilgrave is back (and still guilt-stricken about Reva), Jessica breaks up with Luke. He assumes it's because she can't deal with the emotional baggage of his dead wife, so after he finds out about her past — one crucial detail excluded — the two make up. Eventually, though, Jessica gets up the nerve to tell Luke what she did, and he (rightfully) storms off, furious that she kept it from him and still initiated an intimate relationship.
Later on, Luke seemingly forgives Jessica, but it's actually another ploy by Kilgrave to get to her, as he's been controlling Luke the whole time. He commands Luke to attack Jessica, and amid a violent face-off, she shoots him in the head to stop him. She then leaves an unconscious Luke in the care of Claire while she tracks down Kilgrave, but it ends up being the last she sees of him. When Luke awakens, he decides to leave, and Jessica is nowhere to be found in Luke Cage Season 1.
So, when the two come together in Defenders, it will assumedly be the first time they've seen each other since that fateful night. Still, that doesn't mean their relationship is officially behind them. As fans of the original comics know, Luke and Jessica have an intense and lengthy history, and it seems like the door is open to explore that down the line. As Mike Colter, who plays Luke in the series, said during The Defenders Comic-Con panel last month, per Screenrant:
"The flame is not out, let’s be honest. This is one of those things where there’s a lot of fighting, we have to save New York City, I have to sort this thing out with Danny Rand. We have a lot of stuff going on. I think there’s some progress, I think we make some strides but this is a long form television series that, you know, we could go there now, but then where do we have to go? It takes time."
From the sounds of it, The Defenders won't push Luke and Jessica immediately back together. Instead, it will be gradual — a slow burn that viewers can watch play out for potential seasons to come.