(Warning: Please do not read if you haven’t finished watching “Luke Cage” on Netflix)
Even after Luke Cage defeated Diamondback in the season finale of his Netflix series, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up. Unfortunately for Luke, most of those loose ends were not tied up in his favor.
Mariah Dillard became the latest crook to walk out of the Harlem precinct unscathed, taking charge of Harlem’s Paradise with Shades in the process. What’s more, she informed Seagate Prison officials that Luke Cage was the escaped inmate Carl Lucas, ensuring that he’d be returned to prison (though Bobby Fish’s discovery of the documents left behind by Mariah will allow Luke to clear his name). Meanwhile, Claire Temple is on her way to her next superhero encounter.
But the big teaser was the final fate of Willis Stryker, who was seen under the care of none other than Dr. Noah Burstein, the man who came up with the experiment that gave Luke his powers. It looks like Stryker isn’t done just yet.
It’s understandable that Burstein wants to get his hands on Stryker. He managed to salvage the data from his barn laboratory after Luke trashed it, and he’s determined to continue finding a way to engineer the next step in human evolution no matter how inhumane his methods. Every test subject before Luke was killed by the experiment because they didn’t have the correct DNA, but since Stryker is Luke’s half-brother, he may have the genes that the Doc needs.
What’s interesting is that in the comics, Stryker never obtains powers. In fact, his history in the comics is short-lived. He is accidentally impaled by one of his own throwing knives early in the “Luke Cage” mythos and is never seen again. That means that if he returns for a future “Luke Cage” season or the upcoming “Defenders” crossover, the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be taking a new path.
It’s possible that Stryker may assume the identity of Warhawk, a villain who was given the same powers as Luke in the comics after Dr. Burstein subjected him to the same experiments.
In the comics, Warhawk’s secret identity is Mitchell Tanner, a Vietnam soldier who gains powers after being seriously wounded in battle. Once he became Warhawk, he took on a new job as a CIA assassin, but the powers turned him insane and forced Luke Cage and Iron Fist to hunt him down.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the same thing happens to Stryker, resulting in Burstein’s lab being once again destroyed by one of his own creations. Marvel has plenty of choices for who the Defenders will face off against, but Warhawk would certainly be a suitable choice.