Talk has been relatively quiet surrounding the upcoming Blade project, which currently has Luke Cage and Moonlight star Mahershala Ali attached as the title role. The film was announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 and was specifically noted as not being part of Marvel's Phase 4.
Some rumblings have occurred since then, such as a previous potential release date of October 7, 2022. However, with recent delays, it is unlikely that the film will actually release on this date anymore even if this were accurate. A director has yet to be announced for the project, though John Wick: Chapter 3 director Chad Stahelski voiced interest in trying to reinvent the Blade character.
Development seems to be picking up steam now, as Marvel Studios is reportedly looking for writers to pen the script for the upcoming film.
The film's star-to-be has now spoken a bit about the project and how past roles led him to the part in the first place...
On an episode of The Tight Rope podcast, upcoming Blade star Mahershala Ali spoke about the upcoming Blade film.
Ali first spoke about how he has been interested in Blade for quite some time, notably since the premiere day of Luke Cage in 2016. He also talked about the development of the project and how Blade may have been a television series from Marvel Television:
So I did this Marvel show for Netflix called Luke Cage, right? And so in doing that show, the day it premiered I had turned to my agent and I had said, what are they doing with Blade? Because I kept hearing that they were trying to find a way to remake it and put it back together, and it was exciting for me to get to be in that Marvel space in TV, but for me my goal had always been film... But also being able to participate in television in very specific ways that had real meaning, but my larger goal was to be able to really navigate between film and television, and so I turned to my agent and I said you know, what're they doing with Blade? And he goes I check on it, and so there was this long process of them speaking about, at least in the television division, really wanted to make it a TV show again, but not necessarily, trying to acquire the rights still, and some thing's kinda going on, so it took a couple of years...
Ali then talked about the inspiration for wanting to pursue becoming Blade, which was a combination of being on Luke Cage and an admiration for the work of Wesley Snipes:
...But it was really my participation in Luke Cage that sparked the idea, married with being so inspired by Wesley Snipes' work, and what he had done, and how much had changed since his iteration of Blade, and how that had really sorta like ushered in this era of like this Marvel and DC sort of like comic book stuff, and so, for me, like I just felt like since they were having conversations about bringing it back into being, I just wanted to be considered for it because I had definitely a connection, at least in my mind to Wesley Snipes going way back to high school when people used to joke and say we looked alike, and all this stuff.
Ali then went on to talk about the respect he has for previous Blade actor Wesley Snipes when stepping into the role, particularly the darker tone that Snipes brought to Blade:
Wesley was someone who I recognized, and yet had an impact on my confidence, and in just me sort of just kinda like standing in my own truth and own strength in a certain way, so I always kind of followed his choices, and really was inspired by his work, and so many others, but Wesley in particular, and so I just brought it up as someone who wanted to, I really wanted to take on that role, and tackle that, and also...I love that it's darker, that's all in terms of tone, he's a little bit darker than some of the other ones, and so that element was attractive to me.
The full interview can be watched here:
WHAT THIS MEANS
From this, it seems that Luke Cage was a key factor in inspiring Mahershala Ali to pursue the Blade project. Ali played the role of Cottonmouth on the show, who was frequently acknowledged as a standout aspect of the series. The show was unique in displaying an African-American hero and aspects of the Black community that are often shyed away from in superhero media. It seems that this prominent focus being possible on a superhero-based property led to Ali wanting to continue this on film.
Ali being inspired on the premiere date of Luke Cage also shows how long he has been trying to pursue this role, demonstrating that he is truly passionate about the project. Ali has continued to play comic-book roles too, having portrayed Aaron Davis' Prowler in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Clearly, Mahershala Ali is willing to do anything he can to land himself a superhero role.
While Wesley Snipes will not be directly involved with Blade anymore, it seems that he will at least serve as some inspiration for Mahershala Ali's interpretation of the character. Ali has a clear respect for his work, so it is likely that his performance will be influenced by Snipes' portrayal of the Daywalker. Ali's acknowledgement of a darker tone could also signal what's to come in his Blade project. MCU films are known to be on the lighter side, so Blade could be the first Marvel Studios flick to really push a darker and more sinister mood.
Blade has yet to receive a release date, but Mahershala Ali will surely give it his all when he takes on the role.