The Netflix Luke Cage trailer that hit the world on Tuesday features quite a few scenes with a drug kingpin from the comics: Cottonmouth.
Cornell Stokes (House of Cards’s Mahershala Ali) a.k.a. Cottonmouth, is a nightclub owner in the comics who hires Luke Cage’s childhood friend Willy Stryker as a bodyguard and hitman, calling him Diamondback. Snakes!
It also appears that Cottonmouth is fan of the late, great Notorious B.I.G.:
Here’s the photo that in the years since the death of the rapper, born Christopher Wallace, has been put on everything: t-shirts, brick walls, socks, etc:
But back to the series: Netflix appears to be doubling down on Cornell without mentioning the childhood friend plot. One story from the comic books appears to be intact in the Netflix series, however: Cornell attempts to recruit Luke Cage into his crime syndicate, and when that doesn’t work, he decides to destroy him. It’s possible that this guy, credited as “Shades Alvarez” is the series stand-in for Diamondback, as he appears in several shots standing right behind Cornell.
In the trailer, we see Cornell watching over his nightclub and clapping, punching a guy to death, and circling Luke Cage in a fancy setting before siccing on him four of his muscled goons. It’s also heavily implied that Cornell is the one who sends guys to shoot up Pop’s Barber Shop.
In the comics, Cornell is often styled as an aging pimp with snake-like facial hair. We should all feel grateful that the show runner, Cheo Hodari Coker, decided to make Cornell into a blood-soaked, well-dressed fiend instead of a cartoon.
In addition to “Shades” and Cornell, we get a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard, who, in the comics, goes as “Black Mariah,” which is assumedly supposed to sound like “Black Mamba,” which would keep with the theme of evil snakes. Mariah runs a crime syndicate called “The Rat Pack,” which searches dead bodies — probably left behind by Cornell’s attacks — in order to collect and sell their valuables. She also pushes a drug called Acid Z, which sometimes makes users suicidal. It’s that druggy plot-line that eventually links Luke Cage to Iron Fist, so watch out for those developments toward the end of Luke Cage.
Netflix will probably focus the first few episodes of Luke Cage on Cottonmouth, tossing in Mariah and Shades as minor baddies. Tune in on September 30 to be sure.