The first season of Marvel and Netflix's Luke Cage was very much a story of two halves, caused in no small part by the sudden, and surprisingly early, death of the central villain Cornell Stokes a.k.a. Cottonmouth. Played by two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, the character's mysterious, tortured back story intrigued audiences, making it even more shocking when he was suddenly killed off about halfway through the season. Well, in his response to a fan on social media, Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker has explained why this had to happen.

"We only had him for 7 episodes. That's why he agreed to do the show."
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So, by the sounds of it, Cottonmouth's early demise was due to a scheduling issue rather than a creative choice, with Ali only available to shoot seven episodes of the show before moving on to other projects. The Netflix show's take on Cottonmouth was a lot more grounded than the character in the pages of Marvel comics, with Mahershala Alicarving out a villain much more complex than the title superhero. Sadly, Coker's hands were tied, and thus ends the story of a bad guy who could have been every bit as compelling as Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin.

Ali is hardly done with Marvel though, with the Moonlight actor set to take on the role of Blade in the upcoming MCU reboot. So far, Ali is the only actor attached to the Blade movie, with the project more than likely still in its early development. The movie is not a part of the MCU's upcoming Phase 4, which has now been pushed back due to the ongoing global situation, giving the studio plenty of time to line everything up. It is believed that Blade will show up somewhere in Phase 5, along with Black Panther 2 and Captain Marvel 2, though it is unclear when exactly that will be.

With Ali all set to take over the day-walking mantle from Wesley Snipes, the latter has previously released a statement after the news was first announced last year. "To all the DAYWALKERS losing their minds right now, chillaaxx," Snipes said to those who took issue with him not being brought back. "Although the news comes as a surprise, it's ALL GOOD. Such is the 'business' of 'entertainment!' Much peace to the MCU crew - always a fan. Honor and respect to the grandmaster Stan. Congratulations and Salaam to Mahershala Ali, a beautiful and talented artist whose expressions I look forward to experiencing for many years to come. Inshallah, we will someday work together. Most importantly to my loyal fans, the incredible outpouring of love is overwhelming. I am grateful for the never-ending support. So, 'nah fret nah worry, it's not de end of de story.' Welcome to the Daywalker Klique."

Outside of comic book movies, Ali has recently signed on to portray boxing legend Jack Johnson in an upcoming six-part limited series for HBO. The series, titled Unruly, has been described as an unapologetically black, no-holds-barred telling of the life and boxing career of Jack Johnson, the world's first black heavyweight boxing champion. This comes to us from Cheo Hodari Coker's official Twitter account.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge