ByZane E Sanders, writer at
Writer, movie lover, with a Marvel focus. Podcast "The Gospel According to Marvel" on iTunes. Follow me on twitter: @zaneEsanders
Zane E Sanders

Earlier this year, Marvel fans rejoiced as the front runner for the Netflix series, Daredevil, blew us all away and quickly became a favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with a second season being announced shortly after its release). Marvel has set a high bar for our expectations of this Marvel/Netflix partnership and we are only looking forward to the second series, Jessica Jones, arriving on November 20th and the third, Luke Cage, which is currently in production. Luke Cage will be played by Mike Colter, making his first appearance in Jessica Jones, bringing his character into play before his series own series. Marvel has also recently confirmed Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes and Alfre Woodard his cousin Mariah Dillard. Along with Rosario Dawson reprising her role as Claire Temple from the Daredevil series, they join Simone Missick playing Misty Knight, Frank Whaley has been cast as Rafael Scarfe, and Theo Rossi as Shades a.k.a. Alvarez, who is Cage's nemesis.

Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes
Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes
Alfre Woodard set to play Mariah Dillard, a local Harlem politician - and cousin to Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes
Alfre Woodard set to play Mariah Dillard, a local Harlem politician - and cousin to Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes
Simone Missick playing Misty Knight
Simone Missick playing Misty Knight
Frank Whaley is Rafael Scarfe, a hard-nosed NYPD detective who partners with Misty Knight
Frank Whaley is Rafael Scarfe, a hard-nosed NYPD detective who partners with Misty Knight

Theo Rossi as Shades
Theo Rossi as Shades
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple

While I loved Daredevil and I'm looking forward to the culmination of all 4 Netflix series' in The Defenders, I knew very little about these characters being introduced with Luke Cage, so I've done some digging for all of us (so you wouldn't have to). Obviously, they won't follow the comics exactly, but this is a great place to start for people new to these characters.

Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes

Cornell Cottonmouth was one of New York City's leading crime bosses. His criminal enterprise controlled most of the heroin trade in the City.

When Willis Stryker wanted to frame Carl Lucas (who would go on to become the superhero Luke Cage) for drug trafficking, he stole heroin from Cottonmouth's organization. One of Cage's informants, Flea, eventually discovered this information, but was killed by Cottonmouth's men.

Cottonmouth then tried to recruit Cage into his organization. Cage accepted as a ploy to bring Cottonmouth to justice. To prove himself, he was sent to retrieve a shipment of heroin that had been stolen by Boss Morgan's men. After having infiltrated the organization, Cage gathered enough evidence to bring them down and inform the authorities.

As far as powers go, Cottonmouth was exceptionally strong, managing to fight Luke Cage in a stand-off. He also has sharpened, gold-capped teeth. So, don't get bit by Cottonmouth.

Mariah Dillard

According to an earlier report, Woodward's character is "a powerful woman in local politics who will have an impact on Luke Cage’s life." This name reveal may indicate Woodard is playing an adaptation of Black Mariah, who is a frequent antagonist for both Cage and Iron Fist in the comics as both a professional criminal and a drug dealer.

She has no superpowers, but can apparently use her extreme weight to hit with respectable force. Perhaps, much like Kingpin, we'll see the beginnings of another crime lord running a muck through the city.

Misty Knight

During her tenure as a police officer Misty became good friends with Colleen Wing after saving her life during a shootout. She also became friends with Blackbyrd. Unable to continue active duty after being injured, losing her arm to a bomb, Misty rejected settling for a desk job and instead left the NYPD to start a private investigation business with Colleen; Nightwing Restorations, LTD. The two specialized in missing persons cases, and came to be known as the Daughters of the Dragon for their training in Eastern martial arts and Colleen's samurai sword skills. The Daughters of the Dragon frequently teamed up with Iron Fist and Luke Cage, along with the Heroes for Hire.

Misty is well-versed in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, a skilled detective, an interrogation expert (due to her experience and training as a police officer), and an exceptional marksman. In the comics, due to losing her right arm in the line of duty was provided a bionic right arm by Tony Stark himself. Pretty cool, particularly if they keep that connection.

Rafael Scarfe

Lt. Rafael Scarfe was Misty Knight's ex-partner. Scarfe was a highly competent member of the N.Y.P.D. He assisted Power Man and Iron Fist on numerous occasions. Scarfe often recommended caution to impulsive heroes like Luke Cage.

Scarfe apparently helped save Misty Knight's life when the explosion destroyed her arm, making the two especially close.


Hernán Álvarez and his family were from the Dominican Republic, when he was young they came to the US and settled in Harlem, New York. He always like to wear pair of designer sunglasses.

At some point Shades was recruited into The Rivals. The gang consisted mostly of Carl Lucas, Willis Stryker and his best friend Comanche. They engaged in many gang fights with The Diablos, a rival gang. He also committed petty crimes and worked for a crime lord named Sonny Caputo. He was later arrested along with Comanche and sentenced to Seagate Prison. He and the other inmates were tortured by the ruthless Billy Bob Rackham.

Shades and Comanche broke out of Seagate Prison. They have done so because after years of abuse by guard Billy Bob Rackham led to Rackham's dismissal from Seagate prison, and the two have broken out to track him down and seek revenge... Shades and Comanche returned and became hoodlums for hire who clashed again with Cage and his new partner Iron Fist. Despite their past association, Shades and Comanche indicated they would kill Luke Cage if ordered to do so.

A skilled fighter and later equipped with a visor that emitted powerful blasts. So, bad Cyclops... got it.

There you have it, folks! I'll be trying to keep up with all Marvel/Netflix news as I hear it, so follow me for more on that.

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