Here’s something weird: after actress Nabiyah Be confirmed her Black Panther character would be Harlem-based Nightshade/Nighthawk, the villain is now slated to appear in the second season of Luke Cage, played by a different actress. Sorry, true believers! It’s not all as connected as we once thought.
The Marvel Netflix shows, which share only referential connections to the Marvel Studios films, are considered part of the larger “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” even if some folks have had trouble reconciling the likes of Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage, Civil War) and Enver Gjokaj (The Avengers, Agent Carter) showing up as different characters on the big and small screens. The next big point of confusion – or perhaps not, we think we know what happened here – is Gabrielle Dennis of Rosewood fame joining Luke Cage as Tilda Johnson, a “brilliant, holistic doctor with a complicated history in Harlem.”
The Deuce’s Mustafa Shakir also joins the cast as John McIver, described by Marvel as a vengeful Harlem leader. Comic fans may be familiar with his turn as superhuman Bushmaster, though this seems to be the character’s first appearance in the MCU. As for Tilda Johnson? Well, Be’s tweet confirming the character’s Black Panther appearance, which was up for quite some time, has recently been deleted whereas the news of Dennis playing her on Luke Cage comes to us straight from Marvel.
Marvel proper and Marvel Studios don’t exactly see eye to eye; you may recall their 2015 split, which has been nothing but good for the movies since they’re now directly under Disney’s Alan Horn, and while Nabiyah Be’s role may not be particularly extensive, it was a nice bit of comic lore that seemed to flesh out Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, at least on this side of the release date. If Luke Cage is set to feature Johnson in a larger capacity, then it stands to reason the character’s “official” appearance will take place on the small screen.
It’s entirely possible there wasn’t much communication about this beforehand – both X-Men: Apocalypse and Logan cast different versions of Caliban independently of one another, so it’s not unheard of – and upon learning that a minor role in Black Panther had been given a designation reserved for a more substantial part on Netflix, the Marvel Sniper Squad likely asked for the tweet to be deleted (her sister's tweet about it is gone as well). For all we know, the character may not even be named in the film, so completists can still have their cake when it comes to this barely connected inter-media canon! The “MCU” is just the movies for me, but follow your bliss, man.
Luke Cage season 2 premieres 2018.