It was over two years ago, per THR, that Mahershala Ali was unveiled as the man who would succeed Wesley Snipes in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Blade reboot. Since then, news about the feature has only come in trickles, and as with all Marvel blockbusters, this early in the process anything without an official stamp from the studio should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. However, in a new interview, Ali talks about how he feels following Snipes’ iconic performance.
Mahershala Ali spoke on Jake’s Takes this week, mostly about his upcoming sci-fi drama Swan Song. But host Jake Hamilton didn’t let Ali go before asking about the Blade reboot. Specifically, Hamilton asked the Oscar-winner what he looked forward to the most in “exploring” Blade, and how his version of Blade would differ from Wesley Snipes’. After considering for a moment, Ali answered that he looked forward to “earning it.” He explained that “there’s an anticipation for it, there’s an excitement for it that he owns, that Mr. Snipes owns.” He added that he’s excited to “get going and do the work.” You can see the interview below.
In November, Snipes offered his own thoughts on what Mahershala Ali should do to fill his boots. Mostly, Snipes’ advice focused on the physical aspects of the role. He warned that Ali needed to get in the best shape that he could, and that he should do his best to avoid injuries. Otherwise, he said, “enjoy it while it lasts.” Snipes also said he and Ali have spoken since news of the casting emerged, and the former made it clear he harbored no ill will.
It is too often forgotten in discussions of the beginning of the modern fascination with superhero movies how crucial a role Wesley Snipes played — two decades before Mahershala Ali was cast — with 1998’s Blade. While Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Fox’s X-Men films are rightly credited with helping usher in the current state of Marvel dominance, Blade beat the first X-Men film by two years, and Raimi’s first Spider-Man by four years. While the vampire hunter wasn’t as well known a quality in Marvel Comics as Spidey or the X-Men, Snipes’ performance — with the martial arts skill of a monster-slaying Bruce Lee coupled with the stoic cool of Batman — went a long way to change that. The film spawned two sequels though sadly the third, 2004’s Blade: Trinity, has proven to be one of the worst-received superhero movies in the last, well, ever.
A bit of news from last month could hint at how Marvel is achieving what’s likely to be one of the most obvious differences between Mahershala Ali’s Blade and the films Snipes starred in. A twitter user posted what they claimed to be an official Marvel Studios description of the Blade reboot. Along with stating principal photography on the film would be done in Atlanta in Summer 2022, the description also says the hero will be “fighting monsters of all kinds.”
Not only does this mean Mahershala Ali’s hero will fight more than just vampires, but it could explain how Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige plans to keep the film family-friendly. Except for comedies or parodies, most vampire movies are rated R — just like every single one of Snipes’ Blade films. Meanwhile in February, Feige confirmed that Marvel currently has no R-rated films planned beyond Deadpool 3. Maybe the Motion Picture Association of America takes a much more friendly view of killing monsters who aren’t vampires (particularly ones who look less like real people)?