According to Variety, Marvel is in the midst of its most intense and existential crisis yet, and Mahershala Ali is the latest person to feel the bite.
The studio has been plagued by several issues in recent years, not the least of which has been the ongoing controversy surrounding sexual assault allegations against Jonathan Majors.
Having set his character, Kang the Conqueror, up as a major villain, the studio is now struggling to figure out how to rework the franchise without him.
Of course, before Mahershala Ali became involved in this period of Marvel history, the studio was already receiving criticism from audiences over the quality of visual effects being produced for its films and television series.
Plus, there were issues from visual effects artists over the working conditions under which those effects were produced.
The practice of rewriting movies by means of visual effects alterations has not only taxed the artists producing the films but has lowered the quality of both the effects and the stories they’re telling.
The decline in quality of Marvel products in recent years has had a far-reaching effect on the franchise.
Mahershala Ali Coming As Blade At Wrong Time
Unfortunately, Mahershala Ali, who shined in an earlier age of Marvel as Cottonmouth in the Luke Cage streaming series, has found himself in an era defined by bloat and decline.
One of the other major problems Marvel is facing is the problem that is plaguing Disney generally: a glut of product that is dampening viewer interest.
In the genre of comic book characters and science fiction, fandom is the engine that drives every production; disengage the fandom and you’ve lost your way.
He Was Supposed To Be Blade
Mahershala Ali was set to star as Blade in the new reboot of Marvel’s vampire character, which was originally going to be released this year.
Certainly, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA going on strikes have had the industry-wide effect of installing production, but Blade was in trouble even before writers and actors took to the picket lines.
The new film has been through as many as five writers, two directors, and one shutdown, which took place 6 weeks before production.
Shifts In Blade Story
At one point, Marvel’s new Blade movie was actually de-emphasizing Mahershala Ali, moving the Oscar winner into the position of fourth lead behind female characters who had been imposed onto the story.
The wild shifts in story, focus, and cast positioning had reportedly led Ali to want to leave the project. At the time of this writing, Marvel chief Kevin Feige has retooled the project once more with the Oscar-nominated writer of Logan, and Ali is still attached for a 2025 release.
Mahershala Ali’s Reduced Interest
Mahershala Ali’s flagging interest in Blade is quite understandable as Marvel continues to battle demons of its own making, rooted in half-finished scripts being rushed into production by a crowded release schedule that is leading to audience fatigue and financial losses across the board.
What The Future Holds
For now, the two-time Oscar winner is still set to take over the role originated by Wesley Snipes in the ’90s, but further mismanagement on Marvel’s part could conceivably change that.
As we await the ever-nearing end of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the clear hope is that when Hollywood gets back to the business of making movies, Marvel, Disney, and others will do so more wisely than has been the trend.