A veteran of genre entertainment already, Mahershala Ali has joined the cast of Luke Cage, giving the titular hero, played by Mike Colter, another villain to face down, Cottonmouth. Announced on Marvel.com, the casting is the latest in a flurry of both official and rumored additions to the third Marvel Studios / Netflix collaboration as shooting has been officially underway for the last couple of weeks in New York.
Ali's version of Cottonmouth will be Cornell Stokes, a nightclub owner in Harlem who uses his club for some... less-than-legal purposes.
"Mahershala is an actor of extraordinary range and gravitas. As Cottonmouth he will really let loose," said Executive Producer/Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb in the announcement. "Luke Cage won’t know what hit him."
In the comic books, Cottonmouth was a drug lord whose drugs were used to frame Luke Cage (as his original name, Carl Lucas). He has appeared on and off, including in the storylines "Shadowland" (which focused heavily on Daredevil and the other "street-level" heroes involved in the Netflix series) and "Spider-Island." He's not to be confused with the other Cottonmouth from the Marvel Universe, who dresses up like a snake as part of the Serpent Society.
Mahershala Ali is no stranger to genre TV or film. The actor played a key role in the two-part Hunger Games: Mockingjay films, and has previously anchored super-powered series The 4400 and Alphas. No word on whether or not his version of Cottonmouth will be superpowered, but Ali has shown the ability to handle either having powers, or being around those with powers already.
Marvel's Luke Cage is the third Netflix original series from Marvel TV, and is scheduled to premiere in 2016. It follows Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the latter of which will debut Colter as Cage.