Blade has not been seen on the silver screen since the popular Wesley Snipes trilogy ended in 2004 therefore fans were thrilled to see the character would finally be re-appearing in the MCU when it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2019. Those fans haven't had much to go on since then though with the film industry being thrown into chaos with the ongoing pandemic and Marvel's slate being pushed back two years.
It seems Blade has been set back more than most and the proposed 2022 release date will now almost certainly be missed, with the film entirely absent from Marvel's recent hype trailer. Marvel Studios did offer some recent updates on the project to confirm it is still very much in the pipeline. With the initial details released two years ago now and still a lot up the air about a potential Blade movie, here's everything we know so far.
What is the current state of the Blade franchise?
Blade was a bit of a surprise hit when it released in 1998, comic book movies were still something of a rarity at the time and popular ones even more so. With the exception of Tim Burton's Batman movies that tailed off with Joel Schumacher at the helm, the 90's was home to comic book duds like Albert Pyun's Captain America and the Spawn movie.
Separating from campy costumes and making Blade an R-rated vampire flick was a big risk for the studio but it paid off. The movie also spawned two commercially successful sequels Blade II and Blade Trinity before wrapping up the franchise in 2004. There was talk of a Blade prequel in 2009 as the MCU started to gather steam and when that fell through the series star Wesley Snipes also tried to throw his weight behind a Blade 4 but both ideas ultimately went nowhere.
The series remained shelved until it was picked up by Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige announced this latest iteration of the character.
What is the title of Marvel's Blade movie?
Back in February this year Marvel gave fans a long-awaited update on the state of the project seemingly confirming it had been moved aside to make room for some of the bigger projects in the works that have also been delayed. One thing that was revealed was a title for the feature which will reportedly be Blade, The Vampire Slayer.
Unlike other recent Marvel Studios acquisitions Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, Blade's story hasn't been over-told, with the most recent and only big-screen origin coming in 1998. The film is likely to be an origin story and the title reflects that the only reason the studio likely declined to simply title it Blade, as they've done with other properties, will be to differentiate it from that original Blade trilogy.
When will Marvel's Blade be released?
As stated Blade, The Vampire Slayer will miss its initial release deadline of 2022, likely by some way. The only movies currently on Marvel's slate for that year are Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Marvels. With the rest of the slate stretching through to 2023, it will likely be 2024 at the earliest before the Daywalker hits the big screen.
While no one can say specifics, fans do at least know the filming schedule and it's not good news there either. In March this year, Marvel confirmed that the film would begin shooting in September 2021. But according to reports in May that shooting schedule has now being pushed back again all the way to July 2022, so it could be a long time, still, before the project is realized.
Who is directing Marvel's Blade?
There is no official word on who will be at the helm of Blade, The Vampire Slayer but there are a few key candidates who have linked with the role. Deadpool 2 director David Leitch has already expressed an interest in the position leading many fans to speculate he could get the call. Deadpool 2, an R-rated comic book movie, was a huge commercial success which made Leitch appealing.
If Marvel Studios wanted to take a similar route with Blade, The Vampire Slayer then Leitch definitely has the track record to deliver success. Oscar-winner Jordan Peele is another name who has been heavily linked and his style would seem to suit the property. Peele has distanced himself from the project though saying in an interview it was too soon for him to live out "a filmmaker's dream."
Acclaimed horror director James Wan is the final potential candidate, the director has previously gone on record to say he pitched a Blade reboot in 2013. That pitch obviously went nowhere but Wan has since gone on to direct the successful DCEU flick Aquaman, so he has previous success in the genre and would clearly be on board. With his upcoming DC spin-off The Trench seemingly shelved, he could be in line to make the jump to Marvel.
Who is writing Marvel's Blade script?
Up-and-coming TV writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour has already been tasked with writing the script for Blade, The Vampire Slayer. The news came amongst other announcements earlier the year. Osei-Kuffour has previous experience in the comic book genre having penned HBO's Watchmen series. She was also the writer behind the Amazon Original crime drama Hunters.
Who is in Marvel's Blade?
Back when the project was first announced in 2019 the lead role had already been cast with Mahershala Ali playing the titular Blade. Ali is a two-time Academy Award-winning actor, collecting the honor for his roles in Green Book and Moonlight. Ali was attached immediately having actually pitched the idea of a Blade reboot to Kevin Feige initially.
The actor also comes with some comic book pedigree from both big and small screen, having appeared in two Marvel projects already. He featured as the Prowler in Sony's animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse as well as portraying the chief antagonist, Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes, in Netflix's Luke Cage series.
Will Wesley Snipes be returning in Marvel's Blade?
With Mahershala Ali in the role of Blade, it's clear Wesley Snipes won't be reprising his role and getting the Blade 4 he previously wanted. Snipes has remained committed to attempting to attach himself to the project with cryptic tweets and comments though. Responding to a fan's question in January this year Snipes declared himself 'Blade Forever'.
With the ongoing rumors that the likes of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield could appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home, it's not beyond the realms of possibility Snipes' Blade could be incorporated in a more minor role. The MCU is seemingly about to take a detour through the multiverse and it would be a nice nod to the previous trilogy. More likely though if Snipes does appear in the film it will be in a cameo role similar to what Wonder Woman(1984) did with Lynda Carter.
Will Marvel Studios keep the R-rating?
Marvel Studios and parent company Disney don't have a strong track record with R-rated movies and the entire MCU so far has endeavored to keep the more family-friendly PG-13 tone. This begs an obvious question for fans will Blade, The Vampire Slayer be toned down?
While Marvel Studios don't have experience with pushing up ratings other studios have shown audiences do have an appetite for it. Both Sony's Venom and 20th Century Fox's Deadpool received an R rating and both movies were huge commercial successes. Factoring in Deadpool 2, the films made almost $2.5 billion at the box office combined.
Marvel Studios have also previously announced that Deadpool 3, another project now under the reigns of the studio, will remain R-rated as fans of the series feared it would also be toned down. So Blade, The Vampire Slayer could still go either way.
The big thing to consider will be integrating the character into the larger MCU if the film holds a higher rating. This wouldn't necessarily be as big of an issue with Deadpool due to his fourth wall breaking personality which could easily be used to write around the conundrum if they decided to integrate Deadpool at all.
What does Kevin Feige say about Marvel's Blade?
During Marvel's panel at the Television Critics Association, the president of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige weighed in with his thoughts on Deadpool 3 and more adult orientated content within the MCU.
"I think we target everything we're doing now for kids and adults. So I think your question is: more adult or R-rated. You know, other than Deadpool, which has already established itself as a certain genre and a certain rating that we've already said we would not mess with when we start working with Deadpool - which we have. Other than that, we've not ever encountered a story, or a storyline, or a character's journey that a PG-13 or the tone or the ratings that we've been using up to this point has prevented us. We've never been held back by it. If we ever are, then certainly there could be a discussion to be had now that there are other outlets like Hulu, like Star. But that just hasn't been the case yet. We've been able to tell all the kinds of stories we've wanted to with the tonality and the rating structure that we have now."
Judging by these comments it's safe to assume Marvel will target a PG-13 rating first and foremost especially if the film is to have a theatrical release. It may not be what fans want to hear but Feige does leave scope for Blade, The Vampire Slayer to remain R-rated just perhaps not in the format many expect.
Blade limited series
Marvel has recently begun work on expanding the MCU further through original TV series' streaming on Disney+. It's been in the pipeline for a while and the first few examples WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki have all so far been a big hit. There are other TV shows on the slate too with a highly-anticipated What If...? scheduled to premiere in August this year.
The shows have become an integral part of Phase 4 and are expected to carry into Phase 5, allowing the focus to be on characters who've been restrained to supporting roles in the MCU so far. With recent deals struck with other streaming providers Star and Hulu, providing an outlet for even further detached projects. It leaves the door open for Blade, The Vampire Slayer to be transitioned into a limited series.
As Feige seemingly suggested with his comments at the Television Critics Association this would allow the project to be R-rated without compromising the larger continuity of the MCU. Similar to the grittier iteration of The Defenders that ran on Netflix featuring the likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and the aforementioned Luke Cage. Taking place within the MCU but focusing on a smaller scale story within it.
Blade vs. Morbius
The other major possibility for Blade, The Vampire Slayer is to tie it in closer to what Sony is doing in their technically separate but also possibly the same Marvel world. Jamie Foxx will be reprising his role as Electro in Spider-Man: No Way Home so there is at least some continuity established between the two worlds.
There's also rumor that Sony's long-awaited Sinister Six movie could debut within the MCU following the events of the latest Spider-Man feature. There's another obvious tie between Blade and Jared Leto's Morbius that could make room for another cross-over in the future. We already know Spider-Man exists in Morbius' continuity from the trailer.
Fans of the 90s' hit Spider-Man: The Animated Series will be familiar with the story line where Spider-Man and Blade team up to stop Morbius. That series is now streaming on Disney Plus and that episode was in fact titled Blade, The Vampire Hunter. A coincidence perhaps but the breadcrumbs could be in plain sight.
Continuing to spin off that larger Spider-verse whilst keeping it incorporated into the MCU could be tricky but if Marvel Studios can get the balance right it could provide a strong outlet for the future of the Blade franchise. Existing in the same continuity as Venom would also allow the project to remain R-rated.
Marvel Studios has an established history of looking at the bigger picture and whilst they're not in control of the larger Spider-verse as it stands they could have long-standing plans to incorporate both worlds. Morbius is a peculiar character to have his own spin-off after all when there are so many more well recognized Spidey rogues who've yet to make a big-screen appearance. It does beg the question.
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