Now that the Netflix debut of Jessica Jones is just a few months away, more eyes are starting to turn towards Luke Cage, the third show in Marvel Studios' precedent-setting deal with the streaming service (and the third addition to the Hell's Kitchen corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). By all accounts, the road to team-up series The Defenders is going to be just as entertaining as Daredevil fans have been hoping.
Following the announcement that Mike Colter will play Cage on Jessica Jones, news on the actor's own series went relatively quiet - until recently. At this point, Oscar-winner Alfre Woodard appears to be all but officially locked to play a major role on the show, along with Simone Missick (as Missy/Misty Knight), Theo Rossi (possibly as the villain Shades), and Daredevil star Rosario Dawson (back as Claire Temple) all set to appear, too.
Marvel has now officially announced that Mahershala Ali has joined the Luke Cage cast as Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes. The character, as he is described in Marvel's press release report, is a "Harlem nightclub owner, [who] will become an unexpected foe in Luke’s life when Stokes’ criminal activities threaten Luke’s world." It's unclear at this point if the series' version of Cottonmouth will possess the same superhuman strength and razor-sharp teeth as his comic book counterpart, though Marvel TV Head Jeph Loeb has indicated that he will at least figuratively (if not also literally), with his statement on the news:
“Mahershala is an actor of extraordinary range and gravitas. As Cottonmouth he will really let loose. Luke Cage won’t know what hit him.”
This news falls in line with previous rumors that Cottonmouth would play a major role on Luke Cage, though we're still not sure if he will be the primary villain of the show. Some reports have pegged Willis "Diamondback" Stryker as the main foe that Cage will go up against. It's possible that these two are in league together or even tied to Woodard's character. After all, Daredevil similarly had multiple enemies in play, which ended up being connected to the central figure of Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio). In any case, a piece of the puzzle is still missing.
As for the casting of Ali, the actor has dabbled in genre fare before, having appeared in Predators as well as both The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and its upcoming sequel. On the television side of things, he has appeared in countless shows, including major roles on House of Cards, Treme and Alphas. In short, the actor is exactly the kind of seasoned but underrated performer that Marvel has been snatching up for years.
Daredevil season 1 is currently available on Netflix. Jessica Jones releases in Fall 2015, followed by Luke Cage season 1 and Daredevil season 2 in 2016. Iron Fist and The Defenders will arrive sometime thereafter.