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The new trailer for Luke Cage season 2 puts black women front and center

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New villain Bushmaster threatens Mariah Dillard’s hard-won supremacy in Harlem

The first couple of trailers for the second season of Netflix and Marvel’s Luke Cage seemed like they were meant to get fans hyped about the new villains the bulletproof protector of Harlem will be facing. By contrast, the most recent trailer wants to reframe the new season altogether. This time around, it seems like the black women of Luke Cage will be taking center stage.

“You don’t need to be bulletproof to be a superhero,” Mariah Dillard tells a new protegée, likely Tilda Johnson (aka Nightshade). “Black women have always had superpowers, turning pain into progress.”

To the tune of Lauryn Hill’s vocals on Fugees’ “Ready or Not,” the rest of the two-minute trailer is an explicit reframing of the series, previewing a story arc that features everything from Mariah’s efforts to mentor the younger Johnson to the queenpin’s implication that she’s the lesser evil compared to the new villain Bushmaster. His aggressive thirst for power now seems to be defined by its toxic masculinity and threat to female power itself. “Without me, God help Harlem. God help us all,” Mariah intones at one point, in what appears to be a courtroom. In fact, Mike Colter’s titular character, Luke Cage — Dillard’s “dark chocolate Boy Scout,” as she now calls him — hardly appears at all this time. His only lines and appearances lend him specifically to neutralizing the threat Bushmaster poses to Mariah. From this trailer alone, newcomers might think the series was being renamed Mariah Dillard.

Don’t expect the season to actually play out exactly like this very specific cut, though. As we’ve discussed at The Verge before, Netflix has tailored its marketing strategy to do this precise thing: tease shows and movies with a framing based on what various groups want to see from that project. That’s why it seems like, with this trailer, Netflix is saying, “We definitely read all the reviews that highlighted Mariah as the reason to watch the show.”

Luke Cage season 2 arrives on Netflix June 22nd.