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Luke Cage’s Mahershala Ali may bring his villainy game to Alita: Battle Angel

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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.


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.