Not only was Blade officially announced by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, but it was also promised that Mahershala Ali would follow the footsteps of Blade Trinity star Wesley Snipes as the titular vampire hunter. However, despite the surprise announcement, it soon became evident that it was a tad premature.
Things were quiet for several months following the confirmation of a Blade reboot until reports revealed that a search for directors and writers began in late 2020. Finally, after nine months of searching, the studio found its director in Bassam Tariq, an up-and-coming filmmaker who garnered acclaim for helming 2020's Mogul Mowgli, starring Riz Ahmed.
Tariq expressed his excitement in a later interview, especially about working with writer Staci Osei-Kuffour. Disney's official press release at this year's San Diego Comic-Con even confirmed that filming would begin in October for the film, making it seem like Blade was finally becoming a reality in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Unfortunately, it may take even longer now that Marvel Studios may have to search for someone other than Tariq to helm the project.
Blade Director Departs
As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Bassam Tariq has abruptly stepped down as director of Marvel Studios' Blade film. This news comes just one week before filming was scheduled to begin for the MCU project.
Marvel Studios issued the following statement on Tariq's departure:
“Due to continued shifts in our production schedule, Bassam is no longer moving forward as director of Blade but will remain an executive producer on the film,” Marvel said in a statement to THR. “We appreciate Bassam’s talent and all the work he’s done getting Blade to where it is.”
Tariq, who will still be credited as an executive producer on the movie, shared the following words regarding his exit:
“Its been an honor working with the wonderful folks at Marvel. We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film.”
Blade's production, which was due to begin this Fall, is now stalled as Marvel Studios reportedly enters "search mode" for a new director, according to THR.
This isn't the first time Marvel Studios has lost a director amid a film's development or production. In 2014, writer-director Edgar Wright exited Ant-Man in the months prior to its planned filming due to creative differences; Marvel replaced Wright with Peyton Reed, who produced a critical and box office success in 2015 and has since been the guardian of the MCU's Ant-Man trilogy.
More recently, in January 2020, Scott Derrickson departed directorial duties on Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness after he and producer Kevin Feige failed to see eye-to-eye on the sequel's direction. Famed horror director Sam Raimi took over Doctor Strange 2's reigns from Derrickson, re-developing much of the sequel from the ground-up and ultimately releasing it in May 2022; the sequel was a financial hit, earning over $900 million, but was not as liked by audiences compared to Derrickson's first film, earning a lukewarm B+ CinemaScore with moviegoers.
It remains to be seen who Marvel chooses as their replacement Blade director, although they'll likely be a filmmaker with more credits under their belt than Tariq who Feige and co. are comfortable jumping into pre-production to start rolling cameras as soon as possible to avoid any more unnecessary delays to production.
Blade is currently still set to release on November 3, 2023, although many fans are expecting this date to be postponed at least a few months as Marvel Studios finds its footing with a finalized script and entrusted director.