Blade Behind The Scenes Drama Proves Disney Needs To Decide If Marvel Can Get Gory

Disney needs to get out of Marvel's way and let properties like Blade be as gory as they need to be.

By Michileen Martin | Updated


When Stephen Dorff — who plays the villain Deacon Frost in 1998’s Blade —  called Marvel movies “worthless garbage” and said the reboot of Blade would be the same, he had a point. Yes, he was talking a lot of smack for a guy who does way more direct-to-video fare than most former True Detective lead cast members, but he was right in that there’s a good chance Disney’s content restrictions couldn’t possibly allow Ali’s Blade to be anything but worthless. If Marvel isn’t able to make the kind of bloody, glorious mess that a film whose lead character is a vampire hunter should be, then maybe they should just forget the whole thing.

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The Zombie-fied Doctor Strange variant in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Sure, Marvel has already been skirting the edge of more mature content. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was said by some to be more horror movie than superhero flick and Eternals — which fittingly had Mahershali Ali’s first appearance (vocal cameo, at least) as Blade — gave us the MCU’s first sex scene. Of course, last year’s Disney+ special Werewolf by Night had plenty of bloodletting. Not to mention that Kevin Feige has confirmed that Deadpool 3 will be, like its predecessors, rated R. 

Still, so far Marvel’s creators have used the same kind of clever tricks TV directors have used for decades to minimize the blood. Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange sequel may have been at least half horror movie, but most of the gore is left to our imaginations. Werewolf by Night‘s black and white presentation gave the story a lot of license (since, as far as we know, that was water coming out of the titular werewolf’s victims).

As for Deadpool 3, we won’t know how “mature” the movie proves to be until it releases next November, but PR-wise Disney kind of gets a pass it won’t have with the Blade reboot. As part of a film series that began before Disney’s acquisition of Fox, Deadpool 3‘s R rating will in a sense be one that Marvel “inherited.” 

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Ryan Reynolds as the titular hero of Deadpool (2016)

But unconfirmed reports suggest that Disney is unwilling to let Marvel push through the final barrier and let Blade be the gritty, gory, bloody vampire-slaughtering movie it absolutely needs to be. After Bassim Tariq (Mogul Mowgli) dropped out of the film, stories surfaced that the script was surprisingly short for a Marvel feature, only had two “lackluster” action scenes, and that Mahershala Ali was so disheartened by the situation he was considering dropping out of the role.

The good news is that it looks like the Blade reboot is heading in the right direction. Over the weekend, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto had been recruited to give the Blade script a rewrite. If you’ve seen the acclaimed True Detective, then you know Pizzolatto isn’t one to shy away from more violent, gritty stories.

Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali in True Detective‘s third season

But, assuming whatever Pizzolatto writes for the film won’t be watered down, should it have taken this long for Blade to be allowed to be Blade? What’s the confusion here? This guy’s a half-vampire who hunts vampires and he doesn’t hunt them so he can “catch and release.” 

Ever watch the Highlander: The Series? The nineties TV show largely features sword-wielding heroes and villains intent on decapitating one another, but you never actually see any of the head-chops. The director will show you an exposed neck, a guy raising his sword over his head and swinging it down, and a fallen body. The actual cut and the blood are all left to your imagination.

That kind of censor-satisfying trickery won’t work for a Blade movie. It’s 2023 and if you’re going to sell a Marvel blockbuster with a sword-wielding vampire hunter as the lead, we need to see the blood, there needs to be a lot of it, and it needs to look good. When it comes to letting Marvel show the gore, Disney needs to either fish or cut the bait.