‘Luke Cage’: Will Mahershala Ali & Alfre Woodard be awards superheroes for Marvel?

What’s it going to take for Marvel to get some awards respect? Despite critical acclaim for gritty TV series like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” the Marvel universe has yet to make a big splash at major kudos events like the Golden Globes or SAG Awards. This season the studio’s best hope is “Luke Cage,” which premiered this fall on Netflix, and it has two secret weapons in its arsenal: Mahershala Ali and Alfre Woodard.

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Ali is a longtime character actor who has been on a hot streak in 2016. It started with his first career Emmy nomination: Best Drama Guest Actor for his recurring role in “House of Cards.” That was followed by a breakthrough on the big screen: the indie drama “Moonlight,” in which he plays a drug dealer who becomes a reluctant father figure to a struggling boy. That role has earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination from the Critics’ Choice Awards and a win from the New York Film Critics Circle. As of this writing he’s the frontrunner to win the Oscar, too.

In “Luke Cage” Ali plays the villainous Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, a shady nightclub owner. If Golden Globe and SAG voters are impressed by the actor’s recent output it could prompt them to give this superhero series a try if they haven’t already, lending the entire show a crucial awards advantage that other Marvel properties have lacked in the past.

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Meanwhile, Woodard plays Mariah Dillard, Stokes’s cousin, and if Ali has become a recent industry favorite that’s nothing compared to the awards romp Woodard has been on over the years. She’s a 17-time Emmy nominee and four-time winner. She’s also a three-time SAG winner, a Golden Globe champ for the TV movie “Miss Evers’ Boys” (1997) and an Oscar nominee for the film “Cross Creek” (1983).

Woodard is beloved throughout the industry, so her presence lends “Luke Cage” an unmistakable cachet. She’s is such a powerful force that she earned a Best Drama Guest Actress Emmy bid in 2011 for HBO’s vampire series “True Blood,” another show that was not usually awards voters’ cup of tea.

Even without Ali and Woodard “Luke Cage” should be considered a major dark horse contender thanks to its stellar reviews and timely subject matter — its title character (Mike Colter) is a black superhero with bulletproof skin, which resonates powerfully in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. But having awards superheroes in its cast doesn’t hurt either.

Predict the Golden Globe nominations now; change them till December 12

Do you think “Luke Cage” will be a big Golden Globe hit? Be sure to make your Golden Globe predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how this series is faring in our Golden Globe odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on December 12 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Globes taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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