Out of all the new faces that have joined on for Luke Cage season 2, one character has some fan wondering: who is Bushmaster?
Harlem’s bulletproof hero has a new foe to contend with on this season of Marvel’s Netflix series. Played by Mustafa Shakir, John McIver, aka Bushmaster, is a reimagining of the character from the comic books, offering a fresh take on the villian that features many new and interesting layers.
While Bushmaster hails from Jamaica on the show, he comes to Cage’s neighborhood to start some trouble during season 2. As a Harlem native, Shakir tells Metro that he was very excited to film in his old stomping grounds and enjoys how the series portrays the community. “It’s a nostalgic Harlem in a way,” Shakir says. “But, you know, it definitely gives you all of those warm feelings.”
Spoiler warning: Don’t read on if you don’t want to see any spoilers for Luke Cage season 2.
Luke Cage season 2: Who is Bushmaster?
Although Shakir had nothing but “warm feelings” when seeing his old neighborhood, the same can’t be said for his character during Luke Cage season 2.
Like Harlem’s defender, Bushmaster has super powers, but his origin is different that that of the comics. On the show, Shakir’s character finds out he has abilities when he survives an injection by a doctor as a kid, which left him alive but killed the other children. Throughout the series, fans find out that Bushmaster has a rapid healing factor, increased strength and other abilities that make him a tough foe for Cage.
Bushmaster isn’t really in town to mess with the Marvel hero, though, as his motivations stem from a bloody, family bond with Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard).The crime lord’s grandfather and Bushmaster’s father worked together in the past, but ended up killing each other over a dispute. Bushmaster and his mother tried to escape, but Mariah’ grandmother found them and killed his mom.
So Bushmaster has come to Harlem for Mariah’s head, a mission of vengeance against the series’ other main antagonist, making the character more of an anti-hero than a one-dimensional, mustache-twirling bad guy.
“Definitely anti-hero,” Shakir says. “I love the exploration of the anti-hero.”
In a lot of ways, Bushmaster has many traits in common with Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger in Black Panther. In the film, Killmonger is on a mission of revenge as well as revolution, willing to use any means necessary to accomplish his goals, which are extreme but aren’t entirely nefarious. Bushmaster has similar motivations, hoping to upend the criminal matermind of Harlem and bring the ones who caused his family pain to justice.
“I was watching an interview with Cheo [Coker] and someone asked him, did he and Ryan Coogler confer about certain things? They didn’t. It was coincidence, if you believe in that, that there are some of the same elements in both Black Panther and Luke Cage,” Shakir says of the similarities between the characters. “I think what’s cool is that there is the inversion of it. So in Black Panther, you have Killmonger. He’s the black American going to Wakanda, which is foreign, and I’m playing the villain from a foreign place going to America, so there’s that nice inversion there.”
As for who would win a super powered, Marvel beatdown between Bushmaster and Killmonger, Shakir, of course, is biased towards his character and is down for a trip to Wakanda to prove it.
“I think he would have his hands full with Bushmaster,” Shakir says. “I think he would because they got some of the same fire, which was what Black Panther was just lacking, which is why he got beat up by Killmonger. He just wasn’t half angry. I think, you know, of course, I’d totally be interested in going to Wakanda, playing with some vibranium.”
The actor is also very interesting in returning as Bushmaster should they need his services for Luke Cage season 3.
“Absolutely. Wherever he goes, I’m down to do it,” Shakir says. “I had a lot of fun playing with him. He’s complex enough to keep me from getting bored, so, yeah, yes.”
Luke Cage season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.