Marvel Studios’ Blade reboot has faced numerous production issues, including changes in directors, writers, and release dates. The studio needs to ensure they get the introduction of Mahershala Ali’s Blade right. The original 1998 Blade film starring Wesley Snipes was a success, despite its smaller budget. Marvel Studios should take note and focus on character and story development rather than relying solely on a massive budget. Blade’s fighting style, inspired by martial arts, and the grounded portrayal of vampires in the 1998 film should be implemented in Marvel Studios’ reboot. Additionally, there is a demand for an R-rated Blade to fully capture the character’s ferocity and horror elements.

Marvel Studios already knows what will work for the upcoming Blade reboot, thanks to Marvel’s previous trilogy that featured Wesley Snipes in the titular role. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige officially announced the development of a Blade movie in the MCU at SDCC 2019, with Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali being confirmed to be taking the lead role. However, the MCU’s Blade reboot has been through a more tumultuous production period than most other projects, having gone through two directors and five writers, and having its release date being pushed back twice, originally set for November 2023, but now expected to release on February 14, 2025, though this could change again.

Marvel Studios has been toying with the idea of bringing Eric Brooks, a.k.a. Blade, into the MCU since it regained the character’s film rights in 2011. Initially, there were suspicions that Blade would be introduced to a Marvel Television series just as Ghost Rider was in Agents of SHIELD, but this never came to fruition. Originally depicted as a human immune to vampire bites in Marvel Comics, Blade was later retconned as a dhampir who uses his unique physiology to become the perfect vampire hunter. Mahershala Ali’s iteration of the antihero is a highly anticipated addition to the MCU, so Marvel Studios needs to work hard to get his introduction right.

Related: What’s Going On With Marvel’s Blade Movie

Behind-The-Scenes Reports Suggest Marvel’s Blade Reboot Was Misguided

Production issues with Marvel Studios’ Blade have recently been laid bare in a report by Variety, which focused primarily on Jonathan Majors’ arrest and its implications on his future in the MCU, but also shined a light on various problems occurring behind-the-scenes at Marvel Studios. In the report, Variety noted an unidentified source familiar with the seemingly-ever-changing script mentioned that, at one point, Blade himself was relegated to a fourth lead in the MCU’s Blade, which became a “narrative led by women and filled with life lessons.” The report also suggested that Mahershala Ali himself had been on the verge of walking away from Marvel’s Blade movie, though this hasn’t yet occurred.

Mahershala Ali himself had been on the verge of walking away from Marvel’s Blade movie.

The idea that Blade wouldn’t have been the lead star in his self-titled MCU debut is ridiculous, especially after Marvel fans have been waiting years to see the vampire hunter enter the established world of the MCU. However, the validity of this report has been thrown into question, as Blade writer Michael Starrbury suggested this narrative was never one attributed to Blade, at least prior to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes that brought Hollywood to a halt in 2023. Whether this report is correct or not, Blade’s production has been undeniably plagued with problems, but Marvel Studios could turn to Blade projects of the past to learn valuable lessons.

Wesley Snipes’ Blade Was The Perfect Model For The MCU

Blade’s first appearance in a live-action feature film came during 1998’s Blade, produced by New Line Cinema and starring Wesley Snipes as the titular vampire hunter. Blade led to a trilogy of movies, with Blade II releasing in 2002, and Blade: Trinity hitting theaters in 2004. Although the Blade trilogy had its flaws, the movies garnered a positive response from audiences, and gained a huge cult following. Blade was a notably dark superhero movie, but achieved acclaim as Marvel’s first successful superhero feature film. It also helped to kick-start the popular superhero cinema era that continues to this day, so Marvel Studios can learn a lot from the 1998 project.

One of the biggest problems facing Marvel Studios’ recent and upcoming projects is the massive budget given to each separate project. In Variety’s report, it was suggested that Phase 4’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law cost roughly $25 million per episode, which was a sobering realization. Marvel movies of the past have proven that projects don’t need a huge budget to be successful, and 1998’s Blade is the perfect example of this. Blade was produced on a budget of only $45 million, and despite totaling only $131.2 million at the box office, Blade worked tirelessly in creating a violent, dark, cool, and frankly, heavy metal, addition to Marvel’s live-action repertoire.

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently suggested that the budgets for upcoming Marvel Studios projects will be smaller, which could mean that the MCU’s Blade budget will be trimmed – although probably not as trimmed as 1998’s version. This smaller budget will perhaps force Marvel Studios to put more focus on character and story, streamlining every piece of the Blade puzzle. This will work in the film’s benefit, as Marvel Studios can repeat the building of Blade’s mythology that 1998’s movie developed so well, as well as putting Marvel Studios’ Blade’s strong cast, including Mia Goth, Delroy Lindo, and Aaron Pierre, front-and-center.

Lessons Blade’s 1998 Original Can Teach The MCU Reboot

By looking back at 1998’s Blade, Marvel Studios can learn some valuable lessons about how to make its own upcoming Blade reboot even stronger. Currently, many are worried that Blade’s tumultuous production period will be reflected in a disappointing narrative and poor character development for Mahershala Ali’s debut in the MCU. This doesn’t need to be the case, however, especially after Marvel Studios has recently confirmed that post-production periods will be longer, budgets will be smaller, and more attention will be given to content quality over quantity. The original 90s Blade was great in many ways, and the MCU’s version can benefit from its success.

Blade Was Inspired Heavily By Martial Arts

Taking inspiration from other fighting forms has worked well for the MCU in the past, probably because, after so many projects across five phases of the MCU, viewers are desperate for something original. Perhaps the best example of this came during 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which implemented elements of Taekwondo, Tai Chi, Muay Thai, and Wing Chun, among several others, allowing Simu Liu’s MCU debut to stand out from the crowd. This can be implemented in Marvel Studios’ Blade just as it was in the 1998 film, as Eric Brooks’ more graceful fighting styles are the perfect juxtaposition to his more brutal activities.

Blade Grounded Its Monstrous Characters In Realism

Previous depictions of vampires on screen had often been campy and unrealistic to the extreme, but 1998’s Blade brought the mythical species into the real world with a huge amount of power. Grounded in the real, Blade’s vampires were terrifying, but very human, and these themes should continue into Marvel Studios’ upcoming Blade reboot. This made vampires into a much more mature and accessible species, moving away from the versions of vampires seen in projects such as 1994’s Interview with the Vampire, and subsequent franchises such as 2008’s Twilight.

Marvel Studios’ Blade Should Be R-Rated

Marvel Studios is set to bring much more mature heroes and antiheroes into the MCU in several upcoming projects, which has given birth to the company branching out into R-rated projects in the otherwise family-friendly MCU. Marvel’s Echo on Disney+ will be the MCU’s first TV-MA project, while 2024’s Deadpool 3 marks the first R-rated feature film. There have been calls for Blade to be produced as an R-rated project, too, which would allow for Eric Brooks’ ferocity and savagery to be felt to its fullest impact – just as it was during Wesley Snipes’ adventures as the vampire hunting antihero.

Blade Needs To Repeat The 1998 Movie’s Horror Elements

1998’s Blade was inspired heavily be horror movies of the era, which subsequent projects both in the MCU and in other Marvel movie franchises have tried to replicate. Most recently, 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was billed as the MCU’s first horror movie, but this didn’t come to fruition. Werewolf By Night’s classic horror elements were brilliant, so perhaps Marvel Studios can lean more heavily into these aspects to bring Blade’s full impact to the franchise. Having Marvel Studios’ Blade be R-rated would certainly help implement this level of horror and dark comedy, so there is still hope for Mahershala Ali’s MCU debut to pack a powerful punch.

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 Marvel Studios can learn lessons from 1998’s Blade.  Read More