It is only a matter of time before fans get their first real look at Mahershala Ali as the MCU's Blade. After the character made his off-screen debut in last year's Eternals, he is set to lead his own solo film, aptly titled Blade.
Marvel's signature vampire hunter is no stranger to the big screen, with three Wesley Snipes-led films around the turn of the century. But this will be a different Blade. One for the next generation. And one that will get to play in the interwoven narrative tapestry known as the MCU.
Bassam Tariq is set to direct the film, but it seems as though he may not have been the first person Marvel talked to about helming the project.
John Wick's MCU Flair
In an interview with Comicbook.com, Chad Stahelski, who has directed all four John Wick movies, revealed that he spoke with Marvel Studios about directing Blade before Bassam Tariq came on board.
Stahelski said that "Marvel was very influential in [his] career" as he "worked for [the studio] many times" early on in his career. He then went into a meeting that took place between him and Kevin Feige after John Wick 3:
"After John Wick 3, he was nice enough to carve out a big chunk of time and have nice talk. He's been a...in a way...a very strong mentor, even though it was a short period of time. I've only talked to him a few times, but he has been very influential in mindset and how to do it."
It was at this meeting that Feige asked the John Wick filmmaker what he would like to take on in the MCU, to which Stahelski responded "Blade would be the one interesting thing [he'd] like to do:"
"And he actually asked me, 'What could we ever do?' I was like, 'Look, I'm not going to lie to you. I don't know if I fit that kind of studio mold, but Blade would be the one interesting thing I'd like to do.'"
Marvel Studios ultimately turned down Stahelski's offer to helm the Daywalker reboot. Upon further reflection, Stahelski has realized that he may not have been the "best choice:"
"I don't know if I would've been the best choice for that in the direction they wanted to go."
But the director notes that if Marvel ever wants to do an "edgy rated R version" to "give [him] a call:"
"I don't know if I would've been the best choice for that in the direction they wanted to go. If you want to do the edgy rated R version, yeah, give me a call. If you want to be non-apologetic, yeah. That's me. But I think they're protecting their brand, they're doing their thing. The individual they selected, I think is a very good director, and I think will do a great job in the direction that I think they want to take the property."
Release the Stahelski Cut
Here is further proof that Marvel Studios know exactly what they are doing. Sure, Stahelski did not end up getting the Blade job, but he was the perfect guy to at least broach the subject with.
The John Wick director may not quite have the tonality that Marvel is looking for, he would have directed the heck out of an action-packed Blade-centric movie. And who knows? Maybe somewhere down the line, an R-rated Blade sequel may make sense in the MCU, and when that happens Stahelski will be there waiting in the wings like a crush at the high school dance.
If the studio wanted a small win out of this they could consult with Bassam Tariq (who got the Blade job) and perhaps bring the John Wick director on to help with the fight sequences that will surely be present in the Mahershala Ali-led epic.
This would be a similar tact that Disney took with the team behind the Raid films who came on to help choreograph the fight scenes seen in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. There will not be the gushing blood and broken bones that Stahelski is used to, but it could be a happy medium if he were willing to do it.
Blade is set to hit theaters on November 3, 2023