Perhaps the single most exciting announcement from Marvel Studios at San Diego Comic Con, in a presentation filled with exciting announcements, was Mahershala Ali's addition in the role of Blade. This was one of the few genuine surprises to emerge regarding Disney's upcoming plans for the franchise. Blade is better known as a vampire hunter and the protagonist of the action-horror trilogy of the same name starring Wesley Snipes. While his history within Marvel Comics is long, dating back to Tomb of Dracula #10 in 1973, the modern vampire movies are better known and hardly resemble the superhero productions at Marvel today.
It makes perfect sense why Blade would make for a great addition to the current Marvel franchise, though. Leaving aside the fact that anyone would be foolish to turn down two-time Oscar winner Ali, his interest in assuming the role of Blade provides president Kevin Feige and future movies with a Swiss Army Knife of a character, as well as an actor. For all of the vampire and horror trappings that surround Blade in comics and movies, his role as a monster-hunter makes him one of the best characters to crossover and continue to connect the many Marvel movies coming in Phase 4 and beyond.
A Popular, New Genre
One of the most exciting elements from Marvel Studios' Phase 3 was the introduction of new genre tropes. Much of the first two phases provided very similar takes on the same essential superhero story. New directors, sequels, and an audience with a lot of goodwill provided the perfect playground to experiment with new types of movies. Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther both stand out as films as much about their director's vision and interest, as being the next chapter in a superhero drama. The announcement of upcoming films like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness suggests that this will only be continued as the franchise moves forward.
It's that same Doctor Strange title that also suggests an interest in delving into the horror genre with future Marvel movies. It evokes a feeling of Lovecraftian horror, which is likely to reveal all sorts of monsters. The Disney+ series WandaVision is likely to delve into similar terrain, since it has been said to function as a prequel of sorts. Horror is a massively popular genre in movies and has been experiencing a revival of prestige projects across the past several year, so it's about time that Marvel Studios had their own horror-themed superhero.
While Blade is best known for his ongoing war against vampires, as a member of the Midnight Sons and various other supernatural team ups, he has become an all-purpose monster-hunter in the comics. Doctor Strange or Scarlet Witch don't need to be worried about Dracula in order to seek out Blade's help. He's the ideal character to introduce new monsters and a dash of the horror genre to their new stories or any others that might feature something that goes bump in the night.
History's Most Versatile Villain
Simply because doesn't need to only fight vampires doesn't mean that he shouldn't fight vampires. It's all but certain that if Ali stars in a standalone Blade film that he will battle the blood-sucking undead, but that doesn't mean he can't start that war in other movies or Disney+ series in advance. Vampires have remained one of the most interesting and frightening villains in all of modern literature since Bram Stoker's Dracula was published in 1897, and they were popular folklore even before then. While Blade is the specialist in fighting these supernatural villains, that hasn't stopped them from attacking superheroes of all stripes.
At Marvel Comics, Dracula and his undead legions have become a regular foe of the X-Men, leading to many crossovers with Blade and even a romance with Storm. Vampires have appeared in almost every major Marvel hero's story in some fashion, including notable storylines featuring Captain America and Doctor Strange. Vampires, functioning as a spreading curse or affliction more than a single evil plot, are both an ongoing and versatile threat. The question isn't where vampires could appear, but which films would Feige and Ali want them to appear in.
It's possible to imagine vampires being part of a supernatural force of villains in the new Doctor Strange film, or as allies of the Ten Rings in the upcoming Shang Chi movie, or even as an introductory fight for Valkyrie in the new Thor movie. There's no character franchise wherein vampires are a bad idea, given the right script. Marvel Studios has embraced its massive, interconnected, and strange nature with the current slate of Phase 4 movies, so any objections to vampiric (and therefore Blade-related) activity in these movies aren't relevant anymore.
A Fan-Favorite Character
However, the best reason for a character crossover can be found by reflecting on Spider-Man. He's the character most likely to pop-up in books across the entire Marvel Comics publishing line. Peter Parker appears in adventures to space and with Avengers and in every streetlevel series for one big reason: Fans love him. He is universally adored and has been made to fit just about everywhere in the comics.
The same can be said about Blade in film. The original Blade trilogy was immensely popular, outperforming any of the early expectations placed on character in a time before superhero blockbusters were the biggest thing in Hollywood. With limited support, Blade found an avid following amongst moviegoers who loved to watch him kill vampires and do it while appearing like the coolest guy on the planet.
There are lots of solid reasons why Blade could conceivably crossover with any film in Marvel Studio's Phase 4. He makes for an excellent introduction to new horror elements and can showcase a previously unknown vampire threat. However, the most important reason is simply that audiences really adore Blade, as further evidenced by the reaction to Mahershala Ali's casting announcement. People want to see Blade and Marvel Studios can bring him to the people as soon as they find the right crossover project, which could be any upcoming project.