The Marvel Cinematic Universe first extended into the realm of television with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., then continued with the 1940s-set Agent Carter and is developing a third series along with ABC centered around S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Additionally, Marvel and Netflix announced a deal in 2013 to create its own New York City-based corer of the MCU, following The Defenders.
The first series, Daredevil, premiered earlier this year and the next, Jessica Jones, will debut on the streaming service later this fall. Marvel Comics characters Luke Cage and Iron Fist will receive their own standalone series as well before the four heroes unite as The Defenders. With Luke Cage set to premiere next year, the cast is beginning to fill out, now with a potentially major character.
Deadline is reporting that Alfre Woodard (State of Affairs, The Last Ship) is finalizing a deal to play the co-starring role of Minetta, a powerful local politician “who will have an impact on Luke Cage’s life.” Additionally, it’s being reported that the character is a version of the Luke Cage and Iron Fist villain from the comics, Black Mariah.
Woodard joins the previously cast Mike Colter, who will debut as Luke Cage in Jessica Jones when the series premieres in the fall. Southland and Ray Donovan writer/producer Cheo Hodari Coker will serve as showrunner and executive producer of Luke Cage. Additionally, it was previously reported that Power Man villain Cornell Cottonmouth could appear as an antagonist on the series.
Introduced in 1973, Black Mariah was the leader of a group of New York criminals called the Rat Pack, though she didn’t have any notable powers. After a run in with Luke Cage, she turned to drug dealing, but was defeated by Iron Fist, Power Man and fellow Heroes for Hire. She has only made a handful of appearances throughout the history of the Marvel comics.
Based on the description of Minetta, and Black Mariah’s comic counterpart, there’s certainly a way that Luke Cage could blend the characters into a new villain – one that may resemble, at least in broad strokes, Wilson Fisk a.k.a. Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) from Daredevil. Woodard’s Minetta could be a publicly respected politician with a hand in organized crime, similar to Fisk. The series may even pull directly from Black Mariah’s comic run and portray Minetta leading the Rat Pack or distributing a dangerous drug.
That being said, Marvel has not confirmed whether Woodard’s character will be a new version of Black Mariah, and the description of Minetta doesn’t necessarily paint her as a villain. So, Minetta may be an entirely new character, or she may be based on another recognizable name from Marvel Comics. Both Daredevil and Jessica Jones have incorporated major characters from the heroes’ comic books, so it’s more than likely Woodard will be portraying a known figure – it seems to simply be a matter of which.
Daredevil season one is currently available on Netflix. Jessica Jones releases in Fall 2015, followed by Luke Cage season one and Daredevil season two in 2016. Iron Fist and The Defenders will arrive sometime thereafter.