Here’s Who Alfre Woodard Plays in ‘Captain America: Civil War’
This post contains spoilers for ‘Captain America: Civil War’
You may be reading that headline thinking, “Wait, Alfre Woodard is in Captain America: Civil War?” She is, though Marvel only officially revealed that little casting tidbit today. In an e-mail sent to press inviting coverage to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War premiere in Los Angeles, Woodard was listed as one of the film’s cast members who will be in attendance (you may remember a similar slip revealed both Linda Cardellini and Julie Delpy’s participation in Avengers: Age of Ultron). The immediate reaction would be that Woodard is making an early appearance as Mariah Dillard, the Luke Cage villain she’s playing on Marvel’s Netflix show. It would be one of the first and strongest connections between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Marvel Netflix Universe. Except that’s not who she’s playing.
According to sources, Woodard has a small, but pivotal role in the beginning of the film. She’ll be playing the mother of an American citizen who was killed during the Battle of Sokovia in Age of Ultron. Her character has a confrontation with Tony Stark where she lays both guilt and blame at him for the death of her son. It’s this encounter that convinces Tony to back the Sokovia Accords that would regulate The Avengers and other “enhanced individuals.”
UPDATE: I have confirmed with the film’s writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, that Alfre Woodard is NOT playing her Luke Cage character in Captain America: Civil War. When I asked them over the phone they both responded with a definitive “no” before explaining. “She was cast initially on Robert [Downey, Jr.]’s suggestion to play the character of Miriam. It was only after that we found out she was going to be in Luke Cage…She absolutely is not the same person.” I have also confirmed that Woodard is credited as “Miriam” in the film’s credits, based on the character Miriam Sharpe from the comics, who confronted Tony Stark at her son’s funeral.
It may seem weird to cast an Oscar-nominated actress to play two separate roles within the Marvel universe, but this may speak to the growing divide between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV. Despite actors’ willingness to appear across platforms, the crossovers from film to TV have been limited since Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2014. Going by when the projects were filmed, it would seem that Woodard was first cast in Civil War, which wrapped principal photography in August of last year, before being cast in Luke Cage (her role wasn’t announced until later that September).
The distance, both literal and figurative, between the two departments has grown ever since Marvel Studios crawled out from underneath the thumb of Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, moving to the Disney studio lot on Burbank and reporting directly to Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.
Still, it’s not the first time an actor has played different roles in Marvel films. Ray Stevenson was both The Punisher and Volstagg in Thor: The Dark World (though only one of those was a Marvel Studios production). Enver Gjokaj played both a cop in the original Avengers and then later Agent Daniel Sousa in Agent Carter. But, none quite to the level of Alfre Woodard, a highly recognizable actress in two major projects from a company that likes to promote synergy. It’s beginning to look like we’ll never see Daredevil and Luke Cage play alongside Captain America and Iron Man.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters on May 6.