Marvel Studios takes a stab at a darker tone in Blade, where Mahershala Ali takes over from Wesley Snipes in the reboot produced by Kevin Feige. Announced by the Marvel chief during last year's San Diego Comic-Con, Disney is now actively seeking Black behind-the-camera talent for Blade — and the hunt is on for writers. The two-time Academy Award winner — who jumpstarted Blade as a feature film reboot with a phone call to Feige — says the vampire hunter, who is half-vampire himself, is a "little bit darker" than the bright-costumed crime fighters currently populating the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"I did this Marvel show for Netflix called Luke Cage. 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 they were trying to find a way to remake and put it back together," Ali told The Tight Rope. "And it was exciting for me to get to be in that Marvel space and TV, but for me, my goal had always been film. But also being able to participate in television in a very specific way that had real meaning, but my larger goal was to be able to really navigate between film and television."
After urging his agent to look into Marvel's plans for Eric Books, the Daywalker known as Blade, Ali learned of "a long process of them speaking about, at least in the television division, really wanting to make it a TV show again," he said. "But not necessarily. [Marvel was] trying to acquire the rights still, and some things kind of going on."
It was his role as Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes in Netflix's Luke Cage "that sparked the idea," Ali said, "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 sort of ushered in this era of Marvel and DC, sort of like comic book stuff."
"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 back to high school," Ali continued. "People use to joke and say that we looked alike and all this stuff. Sometimes people try to throw a little dig on you, they call me his character name. They call me Shadow from [Spike Lee jazz drama] Mo' Better Blues or whatever, right?"
Remarking he's inspired by Snipes' work, Ali added, "I just brought it up as someone who really wanted to take on that [Blade] role and tackle that." On what drew him to the Marvel Comics character, he said, "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."
Snipes welcomed Ali to the role in a statement to ComicBook.com, calling his successor a "beautiful and talented artist whose expressions I look forward to experiencing for many years to come."
Marvel's Blade has not announced a release date.