Alfre WoodardAs I’ve said before, I really like the casting of this series; its premiere date in 2016 can’t come fast enough!

The most recent addition is Mahershala Ali (announced a week ago) who will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, an adversary for the title character (to be played by Mike Colter) to battle against. 

He joins Simone Missick playing a variation of Misty Knight, as well as Alfre Woodard, who we suspected was going to play another Luke Cage nemesis known as Black Mariah; Theo Rossi as Shades (aka Alvarez), a career criminal and a nemesis to Cage; and Rosario Dawson reprising her role as Claire Temple from the Daredevil series.

Marvel sent out a press announcement today adding some detail to Woodard’s character; specifically, Woodard will play Mariah Dillard, a local Harlem politician – and cousin to Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali) – who is looking to bring a new era of change to the streets she grew up on. Her personal life and professional career are thrown into turmoil by both Harlem’s newest hero, Luke Cage, as well as her cousin Cottonmouth’s nefarious acts.

“Alfre has an incredible, unique, and intimidating presence on screen that makes her perfect as a leader of the Harlem community,” said Executive Producer/Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb in the press statement today. “We couldn’t be more excited that an actress as celebrated and talented as Alfre has decided to join us on this adventure.”

Mariah Dillard could still very well be a variation of Black Mariah – the leader of a gang of New York criminals called the Rat Pack. Or maybe the character Black Mariah was before she became Black Mariah the villain.

After a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) becomes a fugitive trying to rebuild his life in modern day Harlem, New York City. But he is soon pulled out of the shadows and must fight a battle for the heart of his city, forcing him to confront a past he had tried to bury.

Cheo Hodari Coker serves as executive producer, showrunner and co-writer of the much-anticipated Netflix series.

Before it premieres, Cage will make his debut on the "Jessica Jones" Netflix/Marvel series which will come later this year – all part of Netflix’s announced strategy that will see the streaming platform release a new Marvel superhero series every six months, each focusing on members of a group of comic book heroes called The Defenders – a kind of street-level Avengers team.

The first in the series, "Daredevil," premiered earlier this year to rave reviews. Up next will be the "Jessica Jones" series, which is now officially dated for November 20, 2015. And after Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage series will follow in 2016.

Each of the above 4 series will be supplemented by a "Defenders" series whose members include all 4 characters: Daredevil, Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. They will join forces in a combined “Defenders” season after each has been introduced with their own first season, which I’d assume will come in 2017 or 2018. 

"Luke Cage" is currently filming in New York City.