Luke Cage

Thanks to Mahershala Ali’s sumptuously layered performance in Luke Cage, Cornell “Cottonmouth” has emerged as the rich, Corinthian leather of Marvel bad guys. Ali’s scene-stealing work in the Netflix series makes it unsurprising that casting directors are looking to tap Ali as a villain in their own projects. Case in point: The Hollywood Reporter brings word that the actor is in talks to join the cast of Alita: Battle Angel as Vector, the villainous racketeer and fixer of Motorball games.

Based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series, Alita: Battle Angel is a long-simmering passion project of James Cameron, Hollywood’s patron saint of long-simmering passion projects. Having decided to dedicate the remaining years of his life directing an indeterminate number of Avatar sequels, the project was given to Robert Rodriguez. Since then, a number of actors have jumped on board, including Jackie Earle Haley, Deadpool’s Ed Skrein, and Christoph Waltz. And because this story is ostensibly about a scrapheap cyborg assassin, and not just four really bad dudes, Maze Runner’s Rosa Salazar has been cast as the eponymous battle angel.

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Ali was previously best known for his work on House Of Cards, and since departing the series, has lined up a considerable roster of projects. In addition to Luke Cage and the Free State Of Jones, Ali also has Moonlight hitting theaters October 21, and Hidden Figures opening January 13.