Marvel Reveals Two-Time Oscar Winner Mahershala Ali is Blade
When Wesley Snipes starred in Stephen Norrington’s Blade in 1998 as the half-vampire, half-mortal protector of humanity, superhero movies were in something of a middle period. The late 70s through the 80s had brought us some legendary comic-book films, most notably Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman and Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Those films were a touch campy, but also technically brilliant and gorgeously constructed. By the time Blade hit in 1998, superhero films were moving towards realism. Blade felt new. Here was a black actor in the central role, playing a hybrid vampire creature who could hunt in the daylight. Blade led to the best film in its trilogy, 2002’s Blade II, and the less excellent 2004 capper Blade: Trinity. It was only a year later that Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins changed superhero films again. Meanwhile, Blade’s future was dimming. There was a brief a TV series, Blade: The Series in 2006 starring Sticky Fingaz. It lasted for one season. Once the rights to Blade reverted to Marvel Studios, our vampire-hunter seemed to be at eternal rest. Until this past Saturday at Comic-Con.
In a truly momentous day of reveals, Marvel saved their Blade news for late in their panel at Hall H, when they brought two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali onto the stage. Blade has been reborn, and it couldn’t have a better man for the role.
Blade will be an unusual and a potential game-changer for Marvel. The world of Blade is closer to horror than any other current Marvel series. Scott Derrickson has said that Doctor Strange: in the Multiverse of Madness will touch upon the horror genre, but Blade has long reveled in the fact that it deals with blood-suckers stalking their victims in the shadows. It’s also great that Ali will join Chadwick Boseman as a black actor with his own Marvel franchise, giving Marvel two potent characters to lead their own titles, joining Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie as Marvel’s expanding list of diverse supes.
As for who will be directing Blade and what, exactly, Feige and the Marvel brain trust will do with this character is a question for another day. For now, it’s just exciting to know a talent like Mahershala Ali will be resurrecting one of the more interesting superheroes for the studio best suited to reboot him.
Featured image: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 20: Mahershala Ali and President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)