Major spoilers for Luke Cage Season 2 ahead. Can someone please check on Luke Cage? After taking over Harlem's Paradise, he's on a somewhat concerning path. Will Luke be a villain in Luke Cage Season 3? As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely, even for "Power Man" in the Netflix series.
At the end of the season, the incarcerated (and later, deceased) Mariah Stokes offers her club to Luke to run in her absence. It's clear that her daughter Tilda Johnson is not right for it, but why Luke? What seems like an act of good could be Black Mariah's final nefarious scheme. She says wants it to go to someone who loves Harlem as much as she does — but predicts that Harlem's Paradise will corrupt Luke Cage just as it has its previous "monarchs," so to speak.
Has Luke ever been a villain in Marvel comics? Not really, not unless he was framed or under some kind of mind control, as he was in Jessica Jones Season 1. He should be palling around with Danny Rand right about now, starting a team called "Heroes For Hire," or at least reuniting with Jessica. They are married in the comics, lest anyone forget.
"You know the story of the sirens," Mariah says in the finale. "The beauty of their voices compelled men off course to crash against the rocks. The club will be his siren. He'll be lulled by its' song. Lulled by so-called greatness. The preacher's son will think he can use the roost to change things. To control it. But in the end... it will change him." Change him, it has, and in a relatively short period of time.
Initially, Luke turns down the offer and asks that the Paradise be burned to the ground. But sure enough, the barber shop closes (after D.W. boots Luke and Sug out) and Luke sets up at the club, taking meetings with crime bosses in VIP downstairs. Misty's final glance is ominous as all get out — and when Claire Temple arrives off-screen, Luke tells his new right hand man to have her go home.
Even earlier in the Season 2 finale, Luke actually said the words "Make Harlem Great Again" which is... not awesome. There is no place for Donald Trump and his campaign slogans/philosophies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No place at all. It's no wonder D.W. kicked Luke out of the barber shop. That someone can improve Harlem from this position is a concerning line of thinking for anyone, particularly the neighborhood's hero.
Sure, it seems like Luke has kept crime down — or at least kept an excess of guns and drugs out of Harlem. But what's the cost? Where's the corny reluctant hero fans fell in love with? Can Danny, Colleen, Jessica, Misty, Foggy, and Claire rally to fix this? The fact that Luke may be breaking the law isn't the problem, all vigilante heroes do it. Morals and justice are never black and white in comic book stories, and every hero forges their own path. Luke isn't as much of a violent anti-hero as The Punisher yet, that's for certain. It's the fact that, whether he sees it or not, Carl Lucas has become more like his enemies than he ever set out to be.
The members of The Defenders are really in a dark spot right now. Matt Murdock is still presumed dead. Jessica Jones lost her mother and her best friend. Now Luke is ruling over Harlem with a cold, exacting eye as a crime boss. Maybe this is why Misty will be in Iron Fist Season 2 as well — to ask for his help and friendship.
Whether he is an all-out villain in the as yet-unannounced Luke Cage Season 3 or still struggling to maintain that balance, it certainly sets up an interesting trajectory for the series and the franchise going forward. He didn't even look happy at Harlem's Paradise. Maybe that's what matters most of all.