In a press release today, Marvel executives have officially confirmed that the villains on Netflix’s Luke Cage were, in fact, so bad that the actors portraying these characters are contractually entitled to be cast into other, better roles within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s a little-known fact, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed in an interview, that all actors in Marvel properties have included in their contract a “Bad Role Clause.” This clause essentially states that if the role they play is so lackluster, poorly received, or even potentially detrimental to the actor’s career, then the actor is entitled to compensation in the form of being cast elsewhere in the otherwise-successful and high-grossing MCU franchise. Few Marvel actors have felt the need to invoke this clause, given the high-quality roles, characters, and storylines that characterize most of the MCU, but occasionally, drastic measures must be taken. Re-casting entitlements from the Bad Role Clause had previously been invoked by both Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan for their prior roles as the Human Torch; now, the villains of Luke Cage are entitled to the same compensation.
“I mean, let’s face it,” Feige elaborated. “The first season could hardly decide what it was doing! They set you up with Cottonmouth as a pretty okay villain, until Mariah offed him halfway through. And then they bring in Diamondback as the main bad guy–and he was just ridiculous. Seriously, so generic and cheesy. Who thought that was a good idea?”
The news of the Bad Role Clause entitlement follows the San Diego Comic Con announcement of Mahershala Ali, who played the gangster Cottonmouth on the first season of Luke Cage, being cast as vampire hunter Blade in an upcoming film. The role promises much more positive potential than his previous MCU role. Ali, however, is not even the first of Luke Cage’s villains to take advantage of the entitlement clause. Alfre Woodard, who played ruthless Mariah Dillard–er, Stokes, Mariah Stokes–also appeared briefly in Captain America: Civil War as Miriam Sharpe, the woman who blamed Tony Stark for her son’s death. It is interesting to note that Civil War premiered in May of 2016 while the first season of Luke Cage wasn’t released until fall of the same year, indicating that Woodard knew in advance how bad the show’s villains would be, and chose to take advantage of her entitlement clause right away.
In keeping with the provisions of the clause, three other actors who played Luke Cage villains are also being re-cast in upcoming MCU roles. Theo Rossi, who portrayed Hernan “Shades” Alvarez, will appear as cosmic entity Nightmare in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Erik LaRay Harvey, Diamondback on Luke Cage, will portray the villain Taskmaster in the Black Widow film. And Mustafa Shakir, who played Jamaican gangster Bushmaster in the show’s second season, will appear as Dr. Doom in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot.
At publishing time, Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, and other actors from Marvel’s 2017 Inhumans series are also seeking to invoke the Bad Role Clause and get re-cast with other MCU roles as well, preferably before anybody realizes that they had previous MCU roles to begin with.