One of the best surprises unveiled at Marvel’s Comic-Con panel was that Mahershala Ali is set to star as the titular vampire slayer in an upcoming Blade reboot. Once the excitement had waned a little, though, folks started to realize something: wait, how can Ali be Blade in the MCU when he’s already played Cottonmouth on Luke Cage?
Followers of Marvel’s Netflix output will remember that Ali appeared on LC‘s first season as crime boss Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Before fans start tearing their hair out over this apparent universe-breaking discrepancy, though, here’s an important reminder: Ali isn’t the first actor to have more than one role in the MCU.
In fact, he’s not even the only actor in Luke Cage to do so. Alfre Woodard first appeared in the MCU as a grieving mother who confronts Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War. Just a few months later, though, she played a much bigger role as Mariah Dillard on LC, the equally crooked cousin of Cottonmouth.
While this sounds like there’s simply a divide between Marvel-Netflix and the movies, there are a couple of stars who’ve played two characters in two different films as well. Lauren Haddock is most recognizable as Meredith Quill, but she also portrayed a young autograph hunter smitten with Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. Kenneth Choi likewise appeared in the same film as Howling Commando Jim Morita, but later played Peter Parker’s high school principal in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The difference is, however, that both Haddock and Choi’s characters have been retroactively connected – Principal Morita is Jim’s grandson while Haddock’s first character is Star-Lord’s grandma. It’s much harder to explain away Ali and Woodard’s dual parts, though.
Of course, if you wish to see this as confirmation that the Defenders aren’t linked to the MCU, after all, you can. But either way, Ali’s new gig as Blade isn’t actually as damning as it appears at first.