Cornell Stokes (Cottonmouth)

cottonmouthfilmFirst trailer for Luke Cage has been released, and it’s pretty awesome. At the end of it, we see the titular hero facing the one that will be the bad guy of the show: Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, portrayed by Mahershala Ali (his younger self, who’ll appear in flashbacks, will be portrayed by Elijah Boothe). Stokes will be the owner of a nightclub in Harlem, and he’ll eventually cross paths with Luke Cage because of his criminal activities in the block. In the comics, Cottonmouth is actually Cornell’s real name, but he is a drug dealer nevertheless. He also meets Cage much earlier in his story: let’s see together.

Cornell Cottonmouth was born in New York City, in the Harlem district. The son of a poor black family, he mostly lived on the streets, where he decided he would have taken the reins of his life… and of others’ as well, standing up from his original poverty. There weren’t many opportunities for a guy like him, and eventually Cornell resolved to join the local criminals, starting from the bottom to raise to the top. He made a name for himself in Harlem by changing his appearance, having his teeth artificially sharpened and pointed and using them to intimidate (and hurt) his enemies and rivals. Eventually, Cottonmouth reached the top as he had wanted to, and became one of the most powerful and influential drug dealers in Harlem, controlling every ounce of heroine entering the block, first, then the entire city. His control over his men was absolute, as he ruled over them with fear, using both his incredible strength and his fearsome teeth to intimidate them; if somebody betrayed him, Cottonmouth used snake poison to dispose of him, a trademark to send a message to whoever wanted to follow the same path. One day, one of his heroine shipments was stolen, but the culprit was immediately arrested for smuggling by the police: it was a former thug from Harlem, Carl cottonmouthcomics1Lucas, who was sent to Seagate Prison, out of reach for Cottonmouth (the real thief was actually Willis Stryker, Lucas’ friend, but the boss never knew about it). Cottonmouth’s business continued as always for some time, until he found yet another nuisance within his organization: one of his men, Flea, was actually an informant for an unknown third party. This time, Cottonmouth hit quickly and lethally as the snake he was named after, and he had him killed with the usual poison. Then, he investigated on who Flea was reporting to, and found out it was a man named Luke Cage… who looked incredibly similar to the same Carl Lucas that had allegedly stole his heroine shipment years before.

Believing that a new rival was rising, Cottonmouth decided to send Mr. Cage his trademark snakes… and was quite impressed the moment his intended target disposed of the poisonous beasts unscathed. Wanting to make a different kind of offer to him, he sent Cage two of his henchmen, Mike and Ike, but they got busted before saying what they wanted to tell him… but not before revealing Cottonmouth’s whereabouts. The boss received the visit of the furious Luke Cage, and the two exchanged some blows… only to realize that their strength matched. Seeing potential in his enemy, Cottonmouth offered Cage a place in his organization, and the latter accepted it. To test his new super-henchman’s loyalty, Cottonmouth sent him to steal some heroine from a rival, Boss Morgan, a mission that Luke easily accomplished, earning his new boss’ trust. One of his most trusted advisers, however, Mr. Slick (gifted with a photographic memory, and used as a “living records keeper” by Cottonmouth), told him that he had still some suspects on Cage, so Cornell devised a trap, putting some fake records in his office. The trap worked out pretty well, as soon after Luke Cage was caught attempting to steal them: enraged, Cottonmouth attacked him along with Slick. During the fight, Slick ended up falling from a window to his death, and only then Cottonmouth revealed to his enemy that he was the actual record keeper, and that all the data Cage was looking for were stored in his mind only. cottonmouthcomics2Cage wasn’t exactly worried by that revelation, as he had collected on his own enough evidence to bring down Cottonmouth’s organization with or without Slick: he grabbed the crime boss and slammed him through an oak desk, knocking him out. When the police arrived, Cottonmouth was unconscious and ready to be arrested, and thanks to the inside job from Cage it was possible to keep him in jail for many years. But he wouldn’t have stayed there forever, and he had all the time in the world to plan his own vengeance.

Cornell Cottonmouth is a vicious and greedy man, a criminal born whose lust for power overwhelms any care for others. Used to dig his way into the underworld from scraps and to count only on himself, he’s extremely determined and strong-willed. He also possesses superhuman strength and durability of unknown origin, and he’s an excellent hand-to-hand fighter; he has extensive knowledge over many different poisons, and in battle he can use his sharp teeth as an unconventional weapon (when Luke Cage broke his original ones, he replaced them with golden prosthesis). The ruthless leader of a fearsome drug empire, Cottonmouth is the undisputed boss of Harlem’s underground, and he’ll do anything to maintain his position.



  1. […] know, she’s a politician who’s trying to clean up the streets of Harlem, but being also Cottonmouth‘s cousin doesn’t help her at all in doing so. From the description she seems to be a […]

  2. […] Not much is known about his role in the show, apart from the fact that he’ll be one of Cottonmouth‘s henchmen; he’s described as “menacing, smooth and manipulative”, a […]

  3. […] Diamondback makes his presence felt throughout the entire season, being the one who provides Cottonmouth with high-tech weapons produced by Justin Hammer; when he finally appears in person, he’s […]

  4. […] appearing in the new Iron Fist trailer, this time the (alleged, you’re never too sure after Cottonmouth) big bad of the series: Harold Meachum, portrayed by David Wenham. Harold will be the father […]

  5. […] who was gathering a team to kill Black Panther. Hamilton joined Boss Morgan, Stiletto and Cottonmouth in ambushing the Wakandian king, but was easily overpowered when Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Falcon, […]

  6. […] Hamilton. Always looking for company, he gladly joined Hamilton, Ray Jones, Lonnie Lincoln, Cornell Stokes and Mariah Dillard. Following Lonnie’s suggestion, he even had his teeth replaced with […]

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