Before Marvel Studios unleashed the MCU, before Sony/Columbia Pictures brought out their “Spider-Man” trilogy by director Sam Raimi, before 20th Century Fox premiered Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” that would birth their cinematic franchise in 2000, Marvel films were modest productions featuring only their lower-tier heroes. Take 1998’s “Blade,” starring Wesley Snipes as the half-human half-vampire undead slayer, and it was popular enough with audiences to see two sequels made. Despite how Blade’s success helped bolster confidence in Marvel movie adaptations, the character was never revisited in live-action since 2004. A new project was teased in 2019 at SDCC, but only now, two years later, did word of a director come up.
Comic Book Resources tells us that Marvel Studios is now making good on its plans to revive the “Blade” movies and, like Spider-Man, integrate it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the future. While a lead star and a scriptwriter were confirmed two years ago, they have yet confirmed a filmmaker to direct until word came out that Bassam Tariq is now in talks to do so. Tariq is a relatively fresh filmmaker, with only two feature-length credits. One is a 2013 documentary, but the other is the highly-reviewed 2020 indie film “Mogul Mowgli,” which he co-wrote with Riz Ahmed.
This time Tariq will be working with Stacy Osei-Kuffour, whom Marvel Studios tapped back in February to write for the hopefully inaugural “Blade” film in the MCU. This new take on the Marvel vampire hunter will be portrayed by Mahershala Ali (“Hunger Games: Mockingjay” parts 1-2 and Marvel-Netflix’s “Luke Cage”), who is picking up the role from a still-interested but now older Wesley Snipes. It will be interesting to learn how this character will fit into the general-admission MCU, seeing as the original “Blade” films (from New Line Cinema) were darkly-themed for more grown-up audiences.
Blade the vampire hunter debuted in 1973 as a supporting character in Marvel’s horror comic book series “Tomb of Dracula,” about Marvel’s take on the already-public domain vampire creation of Bram Stoker, as well as the wide variety of hunters and slayers arrayed against him. The origin story of Blade has him gaining vampire traits when his mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant with him, giving him superhuman abilities but no undead weaknesses (like sunlight) save for blood-thirst. Mahershala Ali is the third actor to portray Blade in live-action, after Snipes and Kirk Jones, who starred in a 13-episode Spike TV series continuing on from the film trilogy.
Production on Marvel Studios’ “Blade” has been estimated to start in mid-2022, and it is uncertain yet whether the film will slot into the current MCU Phase 4 or later.
Image from Lo Mio Es