MCU’s Blade Movie Really Shouldn’t Be This Hard For Marvel To Get Right

The MCU Blade movie appears to be having production problems, but it really shouldn’t be so difficult to get this property right. Marvel reacquired the film rights to Blade, their iconic vampire hunter, back in 2012. A decade later, their film studio has put production of their Blade movie on pause after losing Bassim Tariq as the project’s director. Tariq seems to have stepped down after continued shifts in the movie’s production schedule, although he’s remaining on board as an executive producer. Marvel Studio’s Blade has now been pushed back almost a year, to September 6, 2024.

Few Marvel productions face this kind of constant disruption, and it increasingly feels as though Marvel’s decision-makers aren’t sure how to fit the vampire hunter into the MCU. This difficulty seems decidedly odd given director Michael Giacchino just successfully launched the supernatural horror corner of the MCU with Werewolf By Night, a Disney+ Special Presentation that emphasized monsters like vampires and werewolves have been a secret part of the MCU all along — the program even set up a sub-species of vampire tied to Atlantis that traditionally serves as a rival to Dracula in the comics. Given this setup, Blade, who is already well-established as a film character, should be one of the easiest of Marvel’s superheroes to fold into the shared universe.

Why The MCU Is Experiencing So Many Blade Production Issues

Marvel’s difficulties with their Blade movie run back a decade, with the studio appearing unsure what to do with the franchise when they regained the rights in 2012. Speaking at New York Comic-Con back in 2016, Underworld star Kate Beckinsale revealed Marvel had turned down the option of a Blade/Underworld crossover because, as she put it, “They’re doing something with Blade.”

Marvel didn’t seem to have really committed to Blade, however, until Mahershala Ali approached them to ask about the possibility of playing a new iteration of their vampire hunter. Marvel then announced, during San Diego Comic-Con 2019, that Mahershala Ali would become the new Blade in the MCU. Production has continually been delayed, with consistent reports that Marvel decision-makers were unhappy with the script. Marvel typically begins with some sort of vision for a new franchise, and then they hire actors; in this case, the events seem to have happened the other way around, and the studio is struggling to adapt to this different approach.

Will The MCU’s Blade Movie Still Happen?

All these problems are naturally leading to belief that the MCU’s Blade movie will never happen. It seems unlikely Marvel will allow the issues to continue for much longer, though, not least because recruiting Mahershala Ali was a major feather in the cap for studio head Kevin Feige. Ali called Marvel shortly after winning his Academy Award for Green Book, and the Marvel Studios president was clearly delighted. “When Mahershala calls, you answer,” Feige recalled when discussing casting Mahershala Ali as Blade. It seems unlikely Feige will allow this relationship to sour.

The problem may well lie in integrating Blade into the shared universe. This is certainly true on a narrative level; MCU Phase 4 has been heavily criticized for feeling too disjointed, and Blade certainly won’t contribute to the overarching story of “The Multiverse Saga.” It may also be true in terms of tone and style, with Marvel struggling to figure out how to make its more mature concepts fit with their general MCU approach. Werewolf by Night set a precedent, but Marvel doesn’t seem to have been confident about that approach. According to Michael Giacchino, Marvel resisted the monochrome style of Werewolf by Night until “maybe the third cut.” This was a major reason the Disney+ Special Presentation worked so well, and it also ensured Werewolf by Night didn’t get a TV-MA rating in spite of its blood and gore.

If this is indeed the issue — if Marvel doesn’t know quite how to make a brutal and bloody vampire hunter fit with their house style — they need to learn a lesson from Werewolf by Night: relax the house style, and let writers and directors produce something fresh and new. That would be the best way to make the MCU’s Blade film happen. And make it a success. This doesn’t seem that difficult.

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