Netflix’s adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s cyberpunk novel Altered Carbon is getting an eight-episode second season. But when it returns, it’ll have a new actor playing the lead role of Takeshi Kovacs — Joel Kinnaman will be replaced by Anthony Mackie, currently best known for playing Falcon in the Captain America and Avengers Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
Altered Carbon is set centuries in the future, in a world where humanity has overcome mortality via a technology that allows human consciousness to be transferred from one body (or “sleeve,” in slang parlance) to another, assuming the client can afford it. The show’s first season is a grim neo-noir thriller that follows a former soldier named Takeshi Kovacs as he’s hired to solve the murder of a prominent Earth billionaire, Laurens Bancroft, who apparently committed suicide. The season, a bloody and violent affair, completely wrapped up the events of Morgan’s 2002 novel.
In the novel, Kovacs (played by Will Yun Lee in his original body) inhabits the body of a disgraced police officer (played by Joel Kinnaman), and leaves Earth and that body at the end of the story once his mission is completed. Because of Kovacs’ identity shift, there was some confusion over whether the show would return for a second season, and if it did, whether Kinnaman would return — he didn’t rule it out. Season 1 creator Laeta Kalogridis will return as showrunner, and will be joined by Alison Schapker (Lost, Fringe, Almost Human) as co-showrunner and executive producer.
The next book in the trilogy is very different from the first
Netflix hasn’t indicated what path season 2 will take, but the recasting suggests that the show might tackle the next book in the trilogy, Broken Angels, to some extent. That novel is set three decades later, with Kovacs as a member of a mercenary outfit fighting in a corporate war on a planet called Sanction IV. He’s recruited to secure a buried alien artifact, a plot point teased in the first season.
If that’s the case, viewers should expect some big changes for the show. Where Altered Carbon was a neo-noir cyberpunk story that focused on the consequences of wealth inequality, Broken Angels is a very different book that moves toward military science fiction and space opera. The third novel, Woken Furies, delves into Kovac’s past.