Mahershala Ali Boards Marvel’s Luke Cage

Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes on Marvel’s Luke Cage, coming to Netflix in 2016

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s casting update comes word, straight from Marvel, that Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, “House of Cards”) has signed on to play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes on the upcoming third Netflix series, “Marvel’s Luke Cage.”

Just called Cornell Cottonmouth in the comics, the character, created by Len Wein and George Tuska, is not to be confused with Serpent Society member of the same name. A pimp and drug lord, this Cottonmouth made his first appearance in 1974’s “Power Man” #19 where he attempted to enlist the services of the Hero for Hire. Naturally, Luke Cage was not into working for a bad guy and the pair became fast foes.

The official announcement from Marvel describes Stokes as “a Harlem nightclub owner, [who] will become an unexpected foe in Luke’s life when Stokes’ criminal activities threaten Luke’s world.”

Mahershala Ali joins a cast headlined by Mike Colter (“The Good Wife,” “The Following”) as Luke Cage. Alfre Woodard (“Desperate Housewives,” “True Blood”) is also set to play the series’ central villain, believed to be gang leader Black Mariah with Theo Rossi attached to play a part that is allegedly the comic book villain Shades. Simone Missick also joined the cast yesterday in the role of Misty Knight.

Created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita, Sr., Luke Cage is one of the most popular street level heroes in the Marvel Universe who possesses superhuman strength and impenetrable skin. He’s also a friend and frequent business partner with Danny Rand, AKA Iron Fist, who will also be getting his own series on Netflix.

Cheo Hodari Coker (Notorious, “NCIS: Los Angeles”) will serve as executive producer and showrunner on “Marvel’s Luke Cage.” Coker is writing the first two episodes of the series that will premiere in 2016, everywhere that Netflix is available.

(Photo credit: Brian To /