The third series to emerge from Netflix’s set of Marvel TV shows was Luke Cage, and it was met with uproarious approval from fans and critics alike. One creative decision in the middle of the season, however, left many scratching their heads. Spoilers ahead!
The premature death of the show’s scintillating villain, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, at the hands of his ruthless cousin Mariah, was one blip on an otherwise superlative series. The final few episodes focused instead on the more personal dynamic between Luke and his destructive half-brother Diamondback. Actor Mike Colter spoke recently about the surprising choice to kill off the character everyone seemed to love to hate on ESPN’s First Take.
“The decision to do that was done way before we started production. It’s a lot of people that’s involved in this. When you do it on paper… here’s what it is. It’s like running a play in football. You do it in practise, it works, looks good. In the game, it doesn’t work, and all of the sudden in retrospect, it seems stupid. Because what you have is – all the series have a bad guy. And usually by the end of the season everybody’s going “well, we’re tired of this bad guy and we think the bad guy should’ve been – we should’ve been able to resolve this in ten episodes, in eight” – so in theory you’re going, wow, you bring another baddie in, if the baddie is good and people are you know, enthralled by this guy, now you’ve reset the series in a sense, and now people are in another direction, and they don’t know what’s going to happen. You basically knock them on their heels. It’s like running a trick play on an onside kick and you start the second half. These things work, but when they don’t work people go “aww, that was ridiculous.”
Cottonmouth was played by actor Mahershala Ali, who recently stunned audiences in his role in the award-winning film Moonlight. His take on the character of Cottonmouth is what made the villain so captivating, and undoubtedly why many questioned his departure.
The critically acclaimed Marvel series Daredevil seasons 1 and 2, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are now streaming on Netflix. Iron Fist and The Defenders will be released later this year.