Once upon time in the distant year of 2019, Marvel Studios held a pretty momentous Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con. With Avengers: Endgame in the rearview mirror and Spider-Man: Far From Home presently raking in cash at the box office, everyone was wondering what was coming next for the MCU. The Phase Four slate seemed bountiful at the time: Shang-Chi and the Eternals were getting movies, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster was primed to return as the Mighty Thor in Thor: Love & Thunder, and supporting characters like Sam Wilson’s Captain America and Scarlet Witch would be getting their own Disney+ shows.
As if all that weren’t enough, Kevin Feige announced that Mahershala Ali—previously Cottonmouth in Luke Cage and having then won an Oscar for Green Book—would be playing Blade, the vampire hunter famously played in live-action by Wesley Snipes during the 2000s. It’d later be revealed this Blade flick would be hitting on November 3, 2023, with These Birds Walk director Bassam Tariq at the helm and working off a script from Watchmen writer Stacy Osei-Kuffor. And with Ali already having made a voice cameo in Eternals’ post-credits scene, it seemed like it was high time for the character to show up in the MCU.
Instead, things have gotten fairly complicated, and Blade has ended up being one of the MCU’s most weirdly cursed productions. Tariq departed the project in 2022 (due to both schedule conflicts and alleged creative differences), causing the film’s production to be paused. Directing duties later went to Yann Demarge (Lovecraft Country), this time using a rewritten script from The Witcher’s Beau DeMayo. True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto was brought on for rewrites this past April, and production (for a film now coming in September 2024) was ground to a halt the following week due to the WGA strike alongside countless other Hollywood productions, including fellow MCU films Thunderbolts and Deadpool 3.
More recently, a Variety report from earlier in the week outlining the MCU’s troubled 2020s claimed Ali was looking to bow out of the project over script issues. (One such claim was that Blade was essentially a fourth lead in his own movie; then-scribe Michael Starburry later said that idea wasn’t present in his one-page rewrite for the film.) Michael Green of Blade Runner 2049 fame (and more recently Blue Eye Samurai) has reportedly now been brought on to write the film—it’s unclear if he’s working wholly anew or working off of the versions of previous writers’ scripts. What’s more, Marvel is reportedly looking to give the film a modest budget of less than $US100 million, definitely a far cry from the $US200 million it normally spends on its films. At time of writing, the only thing that hasn’t changed about Blade is its casting: Ali continues to be attached, along with Pearl’s Mia Goth, Aaron Pierre (Brother), and Delroy Lindo (Crooklyn).
We likely won’t have specifics on what’s been going on with Blade; at least, not until a larger outlet gives the whole scoop a handful of weeks before the movie’s release. Still, it’s fascinatingly messy to see a movie starring one of the most straightforward B-listers Marvel has—a guy whose entire deal is just wearing black leather while stabbing vampires in the face—have so much baggage attached to it. Maybe at this point, he would’ve been better served with another TV show?
Marvel’s Blade is currently slated to release on September 6, 2024.
Want more entertainment news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and DC releases, what’s coming to cinemas in Australia this year, and everything streaming this month across all platforms. Check out our dedicated Entertainment tab for more.